Creative Nonfiction Black Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

My red paints mimic blood on the wooden floor. It finds its way near the fallen paint brushes that lay still next to the empty easel, the canvas now feet away from it.

Looking at the self portrait makes me ashamed in an empty room and I no longer feel worthy of my spilled and wasted turquoise, copper red, or midnight blue.

A quiet room filled with chaos is all I’m left with and perhaps it’s the fumes of the paints getting to me but I can’t fall down and cry so instead I drop down to my knees with a thud and burst out into laughter instead.

Two days ago

The sun is blinding but I pull the drapes back regardless, inspiration can come from the light as much as it does from the dark.

Plus, the sun gave me warmth.

The kind of warmth I fought off from those who cared for me, so in the afternoon and mornings I can feel as if the sun comes around to greet me… but the moon reminds me that I’m alone, a loneliness I intentionally forced upon myself.

An artist must be alone to create. A common lie that swirls endlessly in my mind until I believe it all over again to keep from cursing at the moons mockery.

I sit on my stool, it’s old enough to creak from my weight but young enough to fight another day.

I look to my blank canvas and pick up my paintbrush and move it an inch in front of the canvas.

To not create is to waste away.

I glance at the mirror that stands but a few feet away from my stool, I look at myself and I find new inspiration.

My eyebrows lift as I consider it, my lip curls into a scowl at the thought, I look to my cheek bones, resting low on my face, my judging brown eyes to match my skin and unkempt brown hair, the curls loosing their tight shape and individuality as they clump together.

“Good enough, perhaps.”

I say aloud, the first word I’ve spoken today.

I sigh and finally turn from the mirror, giving my paint pallet and paint the attention.

I squeeze paint from various tubes and come up with a plan inside my head.

It’s never spoken aloud, simply transferred from pallet to canvas.

What else is there to be said.

I pick a color and I intricately brush it along the smooth canvas, the simple fact that it was no longer blank was enough to make me relax.

“Perhaps I underestimated how much character my own face has.” I chuckle in the silence.

I glance from my canvas and over to the mirror ever so often when I can’t display life in the painting as well as I would like.

A reflection of myself and I couldn’t find the life. How concerning.

My cheekbones look lifeless, my hair has no shine, my complexion pale.

I grow frustrated at a self portrait I believed to be inaccurate but then I stop my brush from creating strokes and look once more into the mirror and it makes me wonder if I have any life at all… If my soul and mind are simply creating what is true.

I look from the mirror and back to my painting.

It’s time to paint the eyes.

How can I create life with paint but when I look in the mirror there is no life at all.

I say inspiration can come from the light but all I find within my eyes is loss. I’m hypocritical but my art speaks the truth.

I stare at myself in the mirror as if I’m my opponent and I finally jump from my seat and slam my pallet of nudes onto the table beside me, along with the paintbrush.

I walk towards my mirror which hadn’t been disrupted by fingerprints or dirt since the day I got it, I grab it and turn it around.

Once more I open the drapes but the sun isn’t shining as much as it did the day before. It irked me.

“Don’t change your tune now.” I point to it before I turn around and walk towards the mirror. I turn it back towards me and lean forward to look myself in the eyes.

Attempting to find art in myself that could be portrayed through my self portrait.

I focus on my eyes and I stand back up when I refuse to acknowledge what is lacking there.

I turn and take a seat on my stool, the creak sounding louder today.

I grab my paintbrush and pallet of paint. Once more laying down fresh paint that would be needed.

I aim my paintbrush to the canvas. I look at the eye I painted yesterday and it reaches into my soul in such a way that it scares me.

I missed it yesterday but I see it today.

I see the moon in my eyes, and not the sun. There is no joy or life and I notice it’s identical to what I see in the mirror.

“What could I have expected. I cast everyone out and expect to see fulfillment.”

Once more I stand from my stool and walk away.

I don’t open the drapes today. I don’t even sit nor add paint to my pallet.

Instead, I walk to my easel and look once more at the half finished self-portrait.

“Man can only grudge against two things. Another man or himself.”


I toss the self portrait to the ground. I take my tin of paint brushes and throw them down beside it.

Silent hysteria befalls me.

I take my tins of paint and drop them to the floor. They spread out onto their own paths silently, and it feels as if my rage is all for nothing.

I’m on my knees and the pain is unbearable but I bare it. My arms stiffen as they stay out by my sides and my throat becomes dry as the laughter takes over me.

“This is my self portrait” I hold my arms out along side me and look around the room, rejected paint, wooden floors and walls that desired to be brought back to life but instead were neglected, dirty windows that prevented the curiosity of passers, “What a master I am at knowing myself.”

The moon did not need to mock me this time, for I did it myself.

“Unable to look myself in the eyes and tell the truth.”

I was unwilling to open up to anyone and now this half painted self-portrait screams for me because I would not.

My arms fall and my head follows.

And I whisper.

“What a master painter I am.”

November 17, 2023 22:49

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