Saturday, October 26, 2013

Prompt: Reality’s suspended for the art

Thanks to Warren Joyce for permission to use his enchanting image, “Gravity”!

Mariam stretched out on the couch, engrossed the new story by her favorite author. She might have had homework to do, or dinner to start before Mom got home, but surely she could read a couple of chapters first.

Her favorite character was adventuring around the world. Mariam could imagine the small red biplane landing on the dirt strip between the forested and the lush rice paddies. As the story unfolded on her handscreen, the framed art that hung above the couch began to swirl, fading into muddy hues and slowly coming clear. Farmers walked up and down the fields and chanted a steady rhythm, harvesting rice in the rain, shielded by their broad-brimmed hats, the water dripping down around them.

An idea for a sketch sprang to her mind, and Mariam flipped over on the couch, resting the screen against one arm as she slowly swung her legs back and forth, tapping the other arm with each leg as it came down. She drew her fingers together, pulling color bits from the air, and swung them into the screen, drawing the new image she saw in her mind’s eye.

As she drew, the colors glowed in the air around the screen. Lost in her art, Mariam didn’t notice when she rose off the couch. She might have heard the rain from the framed print become louder, but she didn’t pay attention to the clouds floating above her. The farmers’ chanting might have taken on a deep pulsing base from the subwoofers stashed in the corners when her dad wasn’t performing, but Mariam merely hummed the chant beneath her breath.

“Mariam!” Her mother said sharply, opening the front door and tossing her coat and bags on the crowded credenza. Mariam crashed down onto the sofa, the handscreen sliding between the cushion and the armrest.

Her mother stood, hands on hips, surveying the scene with an arched brow that bode ill for free time later that night. She marched over with a staccato tap of her heels and plucked Biggles out of the air, tucking him back in his suitcase by the sofa. With a wave of her hands, the rainclouds faded away, with no sign of the water that had pooled on the ceiling. She walked the length of the sofa and gripped the old-fashioned phone handset. Shaking it at Mariam, she continued with an annoyed tone, “How many times have I told you not to let the phone off the hook? I was trying to reach you, young lady.”

She continued her harangue as she headed into the kitchen. Mariam looked around. The art above her was Monet’s water lillies once more. She pulled the screen out of the sofa cushions and tucked it on the table. With a sigh, she followed her mother into the kitchen and without being asked, started pulling green things from the fridge.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Maize

Time writing:
~20 minutes

October word count:


  1. Prompt: Reality’s suspended for the art

    I turned to watch Raymond carrying in a strange contraption, even odder than most of his ‘art’. It looked like it had started as a stereo speaker: about waist high, it had a large round protuberance on the bottom half, and a pile of wires of tubes and streaming out of the back of the top half. He placed it next to the wall of his display spot, and left.

    I went back to positioning my own sculpture. I should not be so dismissive; my art school roommate also worked with everyday objects, and I knew she put in as much creative energy to her work as I did to my sculptures. But there was just a little bit of me that didn’t quite consider it art if you hadn’t actually formed it yourself.

    Raymond brought in another former-speaker and placed it on the far side of his space from the other. Following him, two large men were carrying a couch. Raymond directed them to deposit the couch in the centre of his space, stepped back, and smiled.

    I sidled over for a closer look. The couch appeared unmodified.

    Raymond beckoned me. “Would you like to try?” He gestured at the couch.

    “What is it?” I asked.

    “A reality suspender.” He patted the couch. “Just sit down right here, in the middle.”

    Time writing: ~20 minutes, very interrupted

    1. Haha - very nice! I was confused by the gender pronouns in the 2nd graph? Was that on purpose? I liked the narrator's conflicted attitude about "art". Wouldn't you love to know what happens when you sit on the couch! :)