The Reality Institute

Painting by Roberto Figueroa

He stood up from the bed, blood seeping out of his nose, reaching the black hairs of his chest. He sighed, and took several steps forward. The air around him was cold, but he didn’t notice. The blood still dripped, and he sat down.

He gripped the canvas in his hands, and stared at it with dull, green eyes. The blood flowed into his mouth, and with each breath a fine mist shot into the air. At that moment, he turned with the canvas, and faced the bed. Something stirred in his mind, and something stirred under the sheets, and a moan could be heard. He got out several colors, and started painting.

He started with black hair. It covered the pillow like oil in an ocean, creating rainbows locked in crude liquid. A shot of ink seemed to have dripped from the ceiling onto a bluish mass of strewn pillows and stained sheets. He remembered the smell of something, but he couldn’t take the time to put the scent into imagery, so it disappeared. With every passing moment, his painting changed, and he needed to get it all out of his head before it was gone forever.

After the black hair came the bed itself. From under the sheets came an arm, which he painted as brown. He painted this arm in motion. It searched over sheets, as if looking for someone.

And when a face appeared he added it to the black stain. He made sure to color the half hidden eyes blue. Another arm appeared on the other side, and soon her chest was showing. Small breasts upon a slight frame appeared on the canvas, and soon the impression was that a ghost slowly ascended from the bed; a phantom rose, blackened and browned with only a hint of red still remaining in her lips.

The space around the bed and the figure remained the color of the canvas. The painting seemed done with the abruptness and arbitrary nature with which it began. “You’re bleeding again,” the canvas said.

“I’m painting”

“What are you painting?”


“Don’t paint me. I look horrible”

“Too late. You’re already art”

“You’re so pretentious”

“I prefer pretentious to boring”

“Me too. Come to bed”

“Let me get some Kleenex”

And he left the painting. When he came back to it, he found it to be incomplete, but had no way of knowing what to add. It was just a bed floating in space, with a ghost of a woman sleepily beckoning with a tired tongue and pointed breasts.

I’ve got her up in my room right now. She looks good incomplete.

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