February 15, 2010
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I only came to the art gallery because my friend Clarice had invited me. Clarice belonged to a group of artists that called themselves the Ravens, because, as Clarice explained to me, the Raven is a traditional symbol of creation. The Ravens all share a studio, and twice a year, have gallery shows where people can buy their art. The art is awfully modern, and abstract, and to me, pretty boring. But when Clarice specifically asked that I come, I felt it would be rude to refuse. Clarice was really exited about showing me the other Ravens, and their art. Right now, she was leaning nervously on a wall next to her newest painting, a swirl of color, all spiraling up towards the top. “It’s called Fern,” she told me proudly. “Fern? Why Fern?” I had asked. Clarice looked at me, her eyebrows going up. “Because it is a fern,” she explained in a patronizing voice.
Clarice looked just as she always did, in her knee-high suede boots and denim skirt, but she looked a lot more anxious than usual. She was always anxious in the months leading up to shows, working feverishly to get one last painting done. “I’m going to look at the other art,” I told her. She just nodded deafly, and put one hand over her stomach. Clarice is fond of telling the story of her first exhibition ever, where she threw up from nervousness right before it started. I hoped she wouldn’t now.
I strolled aimlessly around the large airy room. It smelled of paint. I hardly glanced at the art though. It was the artists I looked at. People have always fascinated me. I love to watch people and wonder what their story is. I guess you could call me an expert in people watching. Some people show their souls in their faces, and some you have to look at their eyes to see what they’re like. Some people have mysterious looking faces, that don’t give you one clue what their story is.
Suddenly, one of the paintings caught my eye. I walked over to it. “What’s this one called?” I asked the artist. She had light blond golden hair that was cut to just below her ears and a serious expression. She was wearing a tee shirt that said “I Used Up All My Sick Days... So I Called In Dead.” “Pyromania,” she responded. Her voice was loud and harsh, like she had a sore throat, but was trying to talk normally through it. I stared at the painting, and I don’t know how long I stood there and gazed at it.
It was huge, and it was hung in a little niche in the wall. It was very abstract, and not a picture of anything, but it was clear that the painting was portraying a flame. At the bottom of the canvas was a light blue color, but not sky blue. This was an intense, almost silver color. Then it blended into light golden colors that zig zagged angrily upwards. Next came dark orange, curling and interweaving with reds and golds and yellows, like an intricate glass sculpture. The most amazing thing about the painting though, was not the color, but the texture. The paint was so smooth that it looked like a liquid, a gas. The image didn’t look solid; I felt like if I put my hand on it, it would go right through. It was violent, but had a fierce kind of beauty at the same time. I surreptitiously checked the plaque on the wall next to it. “It’s for sale,” I remarked to the artist. “Yeah, it is.” “And nobody’s bought it yet?” “No, no one.” “I’ll take it.” The artist smiled a small smile.
When I told Clarice I’d bought the painting, I noticed that her worried look slightly deepened, but she said nothing except “I think she’ll be glad to be rid of it.” “What do you mean?” I asked, a little worried myself. “Oh, you know, it was pretty inconvenient to have around…” her voice trailed off and she resumed fidgeting nervously.
About a week or so later, after I’d gotten the picture mounted nicely on the wall opposite my bed, I understood what she meant. One morning after I got up, I noticed that the wall around the perimeter of the frame was charred black. I touched the frame, confused, but instantly jerked my hand back. The metal was blazing hot. I smelled burning flesh.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

cRaZy said...
Feb. 7, 2012 at 5:41 pm
OMG!!!! Awesome story!!! Did this really happen or did you make it up? Either way, I loved it!!! Now I really want to see a Pyromania painting.
the_Horsegirl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 8, 2012 at 11:42 am
Thanks! Nope, this is all fiction :)
CaptainFabulous. said...
Apr. 12, 2010 at 2:44 pm

oooh i really like this story very descriptive and unique

btw thx for posting on my page :DD

Mikey123 said...
Feb. 22, 2010 at 9:23 pm
Wow... so it was like real fire??? Creepy... loved it!!!
Mickie<3 said...
Feb. 21, 2010 at 4:45 pm
WOW!!!! description is awsome an the way you write is smooth and flowing- perfectly written, perfectly written!
the_Horsegirl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 22, 2010 at 9:25 pm
I'm glad you liked my story! Thanks very much.
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