The Missing Figure

[Flash Fiction Challenge]

Leaning back into the decades-old paint splotches that held the rickety chair togegther, propping one elbow on his cantilevered knee, he tilted his head in complacent bemusement at the easel. “Uh…” he began.

“No, no, don’t even start,” she stopped chewing on her lip-rings long enough to huff and wave a brush vaguely sideways at him. Putting it down to grab some other unidentifiable tool — was that a whisk? — she blurted, “It’s not Zen, and it’s not /supposed/ to be recognizable, it’s all ground, right?” She rolled the whisk in a giant blob of white paint.

He rolled his eyes, sliding his gaze out the window to the smoggy afternoon view of the substation next door, then back to watch her skittering across the canvas. He didn’t think she was wearing a bra, and her thong was poking out over her jeans on one side. “Looks more skyish to me? Like clouds?”

She snorted, pushed her glasses up with a forearm, and had just decided to ignore her friend’s ignorance, when his pants spoke.

“Surprise. Surprise. Sur-” announced his pocket, in the driest, least celebratory, Yankee-est way possible.

Her face lit up that he might actually have an ironic bone, and she turned to smirk at him, trying to snicker quietly while he whipped his phone out to answer it.

“No way!” He grinned, unfolding out of the creaky chair to stand by the window. Concentration lost, she watched his shadow creep down the wall to replace him. “Haha, awesome, man, even-” a brief pause, “That’s what she said! Even the wig? Yes!” a longer pause, “Yeah, I just have to call the lighting guy, and we’re good for tomorrow.”

She stopped listening, and turned back to the canvas. She scowled at it, then grabbed a travel-mug from near her feet. Halfway to the door, she noticed what was growing in it. “Ugh, forget it,” she mumbled, thrusting it on top of a cluttered cupboard, without stopping on her way out the door.

After several more minutes of chuckling, a digression about a certain actor, and promises of beer, he hung up and turned away from the window. “Hey, you wanna come with?” to the now-dark room. As his eyes adjusted, he could make out the outline of the canvas, but that was all.

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