The protagonist in my next story interacts with a runner on the subway. I sketched this to work out the composition of a watercolor I’m planning for the story. The right side is obviously and unintentionally dark. The reason is I used scrap paper and there is an image printed on the other side. I don’t like that y’all can see it, but I’m OK with it: I’m just going to make copies, do some color sketches, and find a color scheme I like for the painting.
I created this painting for a story I wrote this week. My family enjoyed the story so much, they suggested I enter it in a contest. So, I did. Wish me luck!
I find drawing and painting people really challenging. I regret some decisions I made painting this, but I like the way the principal subject turned out.
I’m planning a watercolor painting for a story I’m writing. The setting of the story is a meeting [yay, meetings!]. I sketched this to work out the composition. The protagonist is the second person (woman) from the left.
Last summer, two men sat at the counter of a plebian diner somewhere between the sounds of cooking in front of them and the clinking of forks on ceramic plates behind them. Daniel frequently stopped at the diner after work. The cold air calmed his body after a long day landscaping in the sun. Eugene only stopped at the diner before his last night shift of the week at the factory. Both middle-aged men sat at the counter hunched over their own business. Daniel thumbed through his phone and Eugene flipped through a marked up sample ballot wrinkled from being frequently taken in and out of a pocket. The woman working behind the counter brought Daniel a plate with two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausage links, and hashed browns covered with cheese. Eugene’s eyes dwelled on Daniel’s plate.
“I want good health,” said Daniel out the side of his mouth as he chewed sausage. Eugene snorted when he suppressed a laugh. “Is something funny?” asked Daniel.
“You might want to get your cholesterol checked,” said Eugene.
“I don’t go to doctors,” said Daniel as he cut through the hashed browns and stuck a piece in his mouth. “If I go, they’ll find something wrong with me.” Eugene turned his head, squeezed his eyes shut, and wrinkled his forehead.
The woman behind the counter surveyed her area of responsibility. She tossed a towel she was holding in her hand into a tub that released the smell of bleach into the air. She picked up a remote, aimed it at a television, and turned it on. A politician appeared on the screen speaking angrily and pointing his index finger at a map of Europe that was superimposed on his right. The woman behind the counter listened to the rant for a minute and then flipped through the channels until she found a baseball game. She tossed the remote next to a cash register and looked around.
“We should be polite to our neighbors,” said Eugene aloud to no one in particular.
“We want foreign allies,” said Daniel.
“That’s right,” said Eugene turning to Daniel.
“…so we can’t be polite,” Daniel finished saying. The expression on Eugene’s face conveyed confusion and regret.
“Sorry?” asked Eugene.
“We need to tell them how it is and what we want, or else they won’t work with us,” said Daniel. He finished chewing his bacon and looked at Eugene. “Do you want a world free from terror?”
“Of course,” replied Eugene.
“Then we need to kill all the terrorists,” said Daniel.
“Well; yes – obviously, killing all of them would do it; but…”
“If you’re going to kill all of the terrorists then you must be able to identify all of them,” interrupted Daniel.
“How do you propose that we identify all of the terrorists?” asked Eugene.
“We have to sort out the terrorists from the non-terrorists,” replied Daniel. “Are you a terrorist?”
“No,” replied Eugene.
“See? Like that,” said Daniel. He wiped his mouth with a paper napkin, placed his knife and fork parallel on his plate pointing to three o’clock, and called the woman behind the counter. She pulled a bill out of her apron and placed it in front of him along with a red and white mint. He looked at the bill without picking it up. “Food costs more and more every day.”
“The economy will get better,” said Eugene.
“Or worse,” said the woman behind the counter.
“Or both,” said Daniel.
“The economy will certainly not get better, honey,” said the woman behind the counter. “It will get worse.”
“Or both,” repeated Daniel as he placed his money on the bill on the counter. “Have a good one,” he groaned as he spun on his stool, stood up, and walked out.
Eugene watched the woman behind the counter. She pinched and scratched at her crotch. Her eyes met Eugene’s when she looked up to see if anyone noticed. She smiled apologetically and said, “Sorry, hon: I have a rash and the itch is just torture. It just comes on all of a sudden. I’m scratchin’ before I know what I’m doing.”
“Do you think anyone is going to vote for that guy?” asked Eugene.
“Who knows?” replied the woman behind the counter.
“Would you vote for him?” asked Eugene.
“That’s a very personal question, don’t you think?” asked the woman behind the counter with raised eyebrows.
“Sorry,” said Eugene.
“You want some coffee?” asked the woman behind the counter as she scratched her crotch.
“No, thanks: just the check,” said Eugene. The woman behind the counter pulled a bill out of her apron, glanced at it, and placed it in front of Eugene. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the sample ballot. He stared at the page and the candidates he circled until someone new sat next to him and startled him. He shoved the ballot back into his pocket and felt the other pockets for his wallet. The woman behind the counter watched as Eugene left his payment on the counter, got up, and walked out the door. She continued to watch him through the window as he stood in front of the store. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the crumpled sample ballot. He looked down at it, clenched his fists around the edges, bit down on the top of the pages, and whipped his head sideways to tear off the pieces.
© 2017 EDUARDO SURÉ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
When Brian was a kid, he placed in a bucket the most interesting looking rocks he could find in his back yard. His back yard was only an eighth of an acre, but his parents landscaped it elaborately and he found beautiful rocks among the mulch. As he searched, he felt a drop of water on his face. He looked up at the sky and then heard his mother shout from the doorway that he must go inside their house. The boy placed his bucket on the ground and ran through the door only seconds before a heavy rain fell. He looked out of a window and watched his bucket fill with water. He then went to his room, found something else to do, and forgot about his bucket and collection of rocks.
When the rain stopped, a mosquito found Brian’s bucket of water. It landed on the surface of the standing water and laid eggs. The mosquito’s eggs floated on the surface of the water for two days. After those two days, the eggs hatched.
One larva among the larvae was extraordinary. Its cognitive abilities were humanlike. If Brian had the same qualities, he would have been called a prodigy. The larva did not know it was extraordinary. No one told it. The larva spent its time like the other larva: swimming in the bucket, feeding, shedding its skin, and visiting the surface to take a breath of air through its siphon tube.
The larva changed into a pupa during its fourth molt. Its time being a pupa was a time of rest. It was a time of reflection. It was a time for the pupa very unlike its larval days when it hungered constantly for microorganisms. It did not continuously crave and consume organic matter. It had time to think. As the pupa flipped around the water, it noticed other pupae. It saw the number of them. It noted they had everything in common. It wondered how, among so many, it could feel so alone.
Two days later, its pupal skin split. The mosquito stood on the surface of the water waiting to dry. Its body hardened. The mosquito saw its own legs. They meant to it greater access to the world. It saw a new world that was beyond the bucket of water. The mosquito felt its wings on its back. It wondered how life could be so wonderful to give him legs one minute and wings the next. When its wings dried, it flew. He could go where he wished: the deck, a flower, a leaf on a tree. It was more freedom than it ever believed it would have.
The mosquito was determined not to lead a solitary life only dedicated to meeting its own basic needs. It would use its intelligence to live a life of greater purpose. It would use its mobility to reach other mosquitos. It observed wasps and thought it would form social groups as they did. It would lead other mosquitos to less risky sources of protein than blood. It would teach them to lay eggs in locations offering higher survivability than puddles. This is the meaning the mosquito wanted for its life.
The mosquito observed a songbird flying in the backyard. This songbird, like other songbirds, was intelligent and had extraordinary vocal learning capabilities. The bird was able to name its children, and its children remembered their names their entire lives. It was a bird who ate mosquitos. It was a bird who may have eaten the mosquito if Brian had not been there. Brian, who left the bucket out where the mosquito was born and developed into an adult, clapped his hands once and killed it.