by Rob Parrish
There is sand all over the floor of the apartment. You stand barefoot next to an easel. The canvas shows the beginning of a crude self-portrait. Brushstrokes attempt to capture the subtleness of your face, but your artistic ability is incapable of matching its true form. There is a slight breeze coming in from the open windows that face east.
The breeze grabs your hair and exposes your neck. I inhale and close my eyes at the idea of your scent. When I exhale and open my eyes, the structure of the apartment is gone. Waves begin to crash in where the windows used to be. Sand can no longer be discerned beneath the knee-deep water. I say hello, but you are oblivious to me and continue concentrating on recreating yourself, canvas after canvas.
You are an artist, both on the surface and of my insides. Carve me out as if I am made of oak or stone. I will have no rings or indications of the past. Just blood. Let me drip into the water.
Previous failed renditions of your face float by me. No matter where I look, your painted eyes are on me. Other materials, brushes of various sizes, palettes, mason jars, and printing screens crowd the surface of the rising water.
I pick up one of the printing screens and hold it to my face. Don’t be a manipulator, I say. This is my confession.
You continue to ignore me and throw another ugly version of yourself at your feet, adding to the small mountain of discarded canvases beneath you. Eyes and lips bleed into the waist-high water and the surface is slick with sad attempts at stoic faces.
Constant recreation keeps you above harm. You are the summit.
I want a tattoo of an anatomical heart hoisted in a catapult, I yell, as I try to maneuver through all your expressions toward the base of the mountain.
“The anatomical is so tired,” you answer, without hesitation.
I am neither rock nor wood.
I can no longer touch bottom and am unable to climb up to you. The water is dark and I am covered in your past regret. You ascend toward the cloudless sky and continue to paint. There is no brush or canvas, just my heart and the horizon. My blood is now your painted lips and I am the color of water.
Rob Parrish is an MA student at Mount Mary University with an emphasis in creative writing. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his dog, Coltrane. They both enjoy naps and room temperature water.