Word on the Street
Writing Contest Winner


by Renée Boileau

Blue. She picked up the blocking-in brush and drew it through the pigment. With a sigh, she began dabbing trees into the background. The urban landscape on her easel seemed remote.

A passerby jostled her, sending a spray of leaves across a lighted street. Annoyed, she switched hands and changed focus. The sleeping form in the foreground caught her attention and she dipped the brush in crimson. The sleeper's hair flowed red.The drone of the crowd brushed against her, colouring her mood grey. A window. The painting needed light. She stepped back, then abruptly tilted the canvas on its side. She picked up a sponge. The sponge scrubbed a square, taking out layers of night. Only faint skeletons of trees and curbs remained.

A group of students rose like birds, leaving an empty table in their wake. She retreated to a chair, dragging it away from the table and chance meetings.

A minute passed. Another. The monotonous breath of the building's air system sucked away her will to finish.

Then suddenly the currents combined and a coordinated flush of stale air ruffled the yellow display cloth under the table next to the easel. It breathed out. A pause. Then it drew in and the cloth snapped up, obscuring the corner of the canvas with the sleeper.

The painter picked up a round brush and planted a yellow sun in the window.

© 2003 Renée Boileau. Used by permission.

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