Art.

I ran out of canvases. I did not have time for that. I figured I had about ten minutes before the paint would begin to coagulate — but the nearest art supplies store was fifteen minutes away. Fifteen minutes. For a wretched little art supplies store that, I was doubtful, carries the kind of canvas that I needed. It was immaculately planned; it would have been my most flawless work. It would have been brilliant. How did I overlook that one small detail? So small; yet so integral to my plan. I could not stand there lamenting my mistake any longer — there were pressing issues with which to be dealt.

As I hurried to the art store, I could think of nothing else but the piece: the paint, my plan, my mistake. No, it couldn’t have been my mistake. I remember now; a week before, I meant to buy canvases from the store in the city, when my wife came at my door just as I was leaving. Margaret, the unrelenting bearer of bad news and bad luck, it seems.

She came to tell me that her recently-deceased only uncle had made her sister, and not her, the beneficiary of his possessions. I told you of her past, did I not? That she was the bastard child of a lady and a servant. Her mother died upon Margaret’s birth, and her father, generously disposed of when their affair had been discovered. At any rate, she came to appeal to my emotions, and beg for me to take her back. I did let her in, though her pitiful efforts of begging for my forgiveness had not its intended effect. I took delight in her sorrows, and enjoyed her distraught tales. It was then that I began to formulate my plan.

Fortunately, the little art store had one remaining canvas that I was looking for. I immediately ran home after my purchase, hoping that my servant had not yet returned. I told him to take the day off, but nearly to my misfortune, he is a good servant. I was tremulous with terror when I returned.

There, in the soft light of the study lamp, lay my poor Margaret, her naked body in a deathly contortion, an expression of anguish across her pallid face. The sanguine liquid from her empty veins gleamed in the glass jar I had used to collect her blood. It was slightly thicker than it was, but I could work with the consistency.

I shut the door, and began to paint.

[Originally written as a monologue for a theatre class, I have since edited it to read more like a short story. This was written shortly after I read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.]

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Adrienne is an expert on storytelling for branding and impact through video and digital content. She is a video producer and writer.