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For John[]

“There’s nothing as scary as the future.”

- John Irving

Art is a sacred talent that requires a clear head and a clear mind. At least, that’s how I envision it. Therefore, I let nothing cloud my head with unwanted thoughts and feelings.

My schedule is always the same: I wake up, I brush my teeth, I shave, I shower, I get dressed, and I eat breakfast in that order. Knowing what is going to happen in my life gives me peace of mind. It allows me to concentrate on my artwork.

Shortly after eating breakfast, I’d always enter what I like to call “Me Space”: a room in my house in which I sit and brainstorm what to paint.

On this particular day, I continued a painting of a dog I had seen in the park once.

Now, my art is a lot more different than most others. I don’t focus on the abstract; I like to capture the realism of the object I wish to paint. This dog’s features had to be perfect. From the curved, stubby tail to the shriveled face, my brush danced along the blank canvas. I could see the eyes of the pug; the vacant yet somehow soulful look that painted its expression.

Next was the setting. I took hold of my brush, and continued to paint. It was an 80-degree, sunny day in Los Alamos, and I couldn’t let that detail slip unnoticed. My brush changed tempo and time from the waltz of buildings to the tango of a hot summer day. By the time I was finished, the heat of the day was expressed delicately throughout the painting, the dog sweating under the sun’s blistering heat.

It was beautiful. This was definitely an addition to my published pieces. As I collapsed on my living room couch, exhausted from the creative energy expelled into my piece, I looked back at how far I’d come. My artwork has always been criticized. Made fun of.


However, I always had a fair share of followers, even from my first.

Suddenly, images flashed through my mind, the detail of that year too gruesome to bear. Each second I spent in the past was like dissonance in my very soul. John… why did it have to be you? And it all had to happen because of me…

I picked up a brush and forced it to dance a tarantella along a blank space. Anything; I needed anything to get my mind off of him! The brush rapidly scribbled along the canvas, pressuring the trail to become rough and rigid. The colors were splattered roughly onto the vacant canvas, its expression changed from blank to a rigid fury of chaos.

I panted as I gazed upon the finished product. It was a field of a dark rainbow color, with splotches of bright vibrant colors upon it. It resembled something out of a dream. Nothing but garbage and disarray. I needed order! The painting was tossed in my garbage bin, never to be seen again.

Weary from a long day’s work, I trudged through the house, performed my nightly routine, and then passed out in my bed.

“Rick!” “Rick!” “Rick, come on! We have to go!”


I couldn’t see. All I could do was listen.

“Rick, come on! The art convention’s today! You have to get there right away!”

Right… the art convention. What time was it again…?

“Rick, wake up!”

My eyes drifted open to witness John’s dismembered head; his soulless eyes gazing into mine.

“Why didn’t you save me, Rick? Why didn’t you stop me?”

Why weren’t you there, Rick?

I snapped awake, sweating and screaming.

It wasn’t real. He wasn’t alive. It was just a dream.

I lifted myself from the couch, rubbing my eyes. As I looked around the room, I wondered why I wasn’t in my bed.

“Dammit, I must be sleepwalking again…” I muttered to myself. As I checked the time in the room, I noticed that it was still around 3 in the morning. Trudging to my room, I noticed that a light was on in ‘Me Space.’ “Weird, I thought I turned off all the lights,” I thought. As I checked the room, I noticed that the easel had one canvas on it: the painting I threw away. However, something seemed… endearing about it. Almost… magical. It was then that I decided that I should probably show this to her.

I always showed my… questionable pieces to my mom before I published them. She, being a renowned artist himself, would give me advice as to whether it had too much negative or positive space, whether the painting didn’t properly convey the intended image; that sort of thing.

However, it was too early. I needed rest. I sent her a message for a gettogether at breakfast, I turned off the light, got myself a warm glass of milk, and drifted off to blissful sleep once more.

“Rick, come one! We’re gonna be late! Get up and let’s go already!”

John? Late for… what?

“Rick, come on! You were gonna show me your new painting before the art convention today! Show me now! I wanna see it!”

My eyes were pried open by the giddy little hands of my younger brother.

“Alright, alright, I’m up! What time is it?”

“It’s two hours before they show off your first painting in the art convention! I wanna see it now! Show me now!”

“Heh, fine. But only if you let me get up first.”

“Ugh, fine!” John gave a pouty face and stormed off.

I sluggishly rose from my bed, my mind too cloudy to register the world around me. I felt an odd sense of deja-vú for some reason.

I checked the time: 8:33 am. Plenty of time to get ready for the convention. I performed the usual routine; brush my teeth, shower, get dressed, check my messages, read my book, and go down to breakfast in that order.

“Alright, John, I gotta go,” I said, getting my shoes on.

“Can I see it, please?” John begged.

I rolled my eyes. “Fine, but only for a few seconds. I have to go.”

I unveiled my painting to the awestruck 5-year-old.

“It looks great! Good job, big bro!”

It was a painting of a car. I saw a really interesting design on a Ford car, and wanted to draw it. I tried to make it kinda abstract, and I was hoping that I could truly recreate the pattern. As they waved goodbye, and John gave me his signature hug, I departed for the art convention.

“Guys, you won’t believe it! Someone wanted to buy my piece from me!” I screamed ecstatically as I threw the front door open. The energy I received in return was anything but positive. “What’s wrong? Why’s everybody looking at me like that?” Then it hit me.

“W-where’s John?”

His body was found in Main Street. He was crossing when a driver ran a red light. That driver was texting on his phone.

Darkness. I couldn’t see a damn thing in this darkness. Where was everyone?

“Rick… ” a voice whispered in the dark.

As I was about to answer, the words were shoved down my throat. I couldn’t speak.

“Rick… ” the voice continued, “Rick… ”

Louder and louder it grew as the voice went from a whisper to an ear-splitting roar, the darkness no longer holding that lonely atmosphere, but rather a mess of chaos and panic. As I tried to speak, I realized that I was unable to breathe as well! Struggling, grasping for any sliver of oxygen I could obtain, I could feel my strength being siphoned out of me faster and faster.

Silence. The voices stopped instantly. The weight on my chest was lifted, and I could breathe again. Once again, the feeling of loneliness returned to the void, and I was left once again to my solitude.

“What… was that?” I wondered aloud.

Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I whipped around, “Who…”

“You knew,” said the dead face of my brother.

I woke up cold and sweating. The morning sun was kissing the sheets of my bed that now covered my floor. Shivering, I held myself. It was just a dream. Nothing more than resurfaced memories. It was 8:30 am. As I got myself together, I remembered that I needed to show my mom the painting.

However, something just didn’t feel right. That last thing my brother said stuck with me. What did I know? What was he talking about?

“Honey, I hope you aren’t going to keep me waiting,” I heard a voice call from downstairs. Right, I had sent her a message before I went back to bed last night.

“Sorry, I just woke up,” I yelled. Hoping she hadn’t been waiting too long, I got dressed and ran downstairs.

“How long were you waiting for me? Also how did you get in?” I probed.

“Only a few minutes, and also you left your front door unlocked,” Mom responded, giggling slightly.


Dodging the clear elephant in the room now, I asked, “so, do you want your eggs over-easy or…?”

“Sunny-side up, please,” she responded.

As I flipped my egg, I noticed the way it flipped. A perfect white.



“Hey Mom, can I ask you a quick question?” I requested, hoping she knew the answer.

“Sure thing, honey. What’s up?”

“What was the car that killed John?” I asked.

She hesitated, lost in thought, and then replied, “it was a Ford. White paint job. I remember it like it was yesterday.”

A… Ford?

I dashed out of the kitchen, running as fast as I could into Me Space. There it was. The painting. I picked up the canvas and examined it. Every color, every detail. I needed to know. I needed to find it out!

“Um, Rick? The eggs are burning,” Mom said, her voice sounding more than a little worried.

I didn’t listen. I couldn’t. I searched the painting for every color scheme, every hue. Out of all of the colors on the canvas, fire colors were more prominent. Actually, the more I looked at it, the more I saw a chaotic fire.

“Rick, are you alright? The eggs are catching fire. I’m going to put them out, and then I’ll check on you, ok?” she said, her voice sounding urgent.

A… fire.

My mom screamed in pain as I heard the sound of the pan drop onto the floor. I turned to look at the chaos unfolding in my kitchen. The fire was spreading. My mom was on the floor, and I watched as the flames enveloped her as well.

I… killed them. My paintings… killed them. As the flames tickled my skin, threatening to consume me too, I closed my eyes.

Art is a sacred talent that requires a clear head and a clear mind. This was the first time that my mind was so clean, my head so clear.

Written by The Anonymous Crouton
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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Cornco- *splutters and dies* (talk) 14:29, 21 July 2022 (UTC)[]

I think your prose and general quality of writing is improving. That's good, obviously. What's not improving is your ability to put together a coherent narrative. There's so much here that just doesn't work and doesn't make sense. The quote at the beginning is one example. It has next to nothing to do with the story (unless the quoter's name being John somehow justifies it).

The basic premise is fine. There's a guy whose paintings predict the future. Right, okay, whatever. That could work, and it's not what I'm taking issue with. But this element isn't exactly consistent. If Rick's paintings have some sort of causal effect on reality, then why does the first one of the dog never come into play at any point? It's not even mentioned or hinted to past the beginning of the story. What's the point of having that in there if it only serves to break your own established rules?

Rick has a room in his house for "me space". Isn't his whole house basically "me space" if he lives alone? It's not like there's anyone around to bother him. Admittedly, this is a little nitpicky of me, but I think it's worth mentioning. Little things like that can make a big difference in your story.

Rick has a nightmare about his dead brother John where John asks why Rick didn't save him...except there's literally no reason why Rick would've been expected to do so. Like, yeah, he painted the car that killed him, but it's not like he was there. The mother on the other hand, most likely was there, and with the information we're given on John's death (which is not a lot), it sounds like it'd be much more her fault than Rick's.

Also, you'd think Rick would know better than to play along with the second, expositional dream after already going through the first one. The idea that this is a recurring dream just makes it even more unlikely. It would make a lot more sense if they happened in reverse order.

I don't think John's "you knew" comment is ever given any decent explanation. Knew what? Knew that Rick's painting would kill him? Well, clearly not, considering he asks their mother later on what make of car ran him over. I also don't get the significance of the unlocked door or the eggs being the same colour as the Ford.

The ending is laughably dumb. Did the mother somehow die in the amount of time it took for Rick to "turn to look at the chaos unfolding in my kitchen" (despite being in a different room)? Unless he passed out at some point, I see no reason why he couldn't have, I don't know, smothered the flames or splashed water on her or called the police. Anything, really, apart from letting her die and just giving up. It feels so stupid and avoidable.

To summarise, if this is just a first draft, a lot of changes need to be made to make the plot work.

Tewahway (Talk) 15:18, 22 July 2022 (UTC)[]

I do agree with quite a few of the points made by the Ol' Cob.

A few nitpicks of my own would be:

The eggs. Eggs don't really "burn" like most food does. It takes a long ass time to burn eggs, and an absolutely excessive amount of time in exposed heat for eggs to catch fire. I get the link to his wild and chaotic-fire painting, but it would make a lot more sense if it was something like bacon (which has tons of grease that can spatter and cause a fire).

"I could see the eyes of the pug; the vacant yet somehow soulful look that painted its expression." Really liked this part. The description and imagery that it imparts is significant and well illustrated.

"...the dog sweating under the sun’s blistering heat." Dogs don't really visibly sweat. They mainly sweat through their paws. Maybe saying something like "panting in the heat" would make more sense, as that's an easily recognizable feature of an overheated dog.

Didn't particularly like the dream sequences, or the way they vaguely connected to the story. As Corn said, why is Rick responsible? "You knew" doesn't really make sense either, as he straight up does not know about the effect his paintings apparently have.

"She, being a renowned artist himself..." hmmm?

"Louder and louder it grew as the voice went from a whisper to an ear-splitting roar, the darkness no longer holding that lonely atmosphere, but rather a mess of chaos and panic." I enjoyed this description. It's definitely easy to envision.

All in all, this story certainly needs quite a bit of tweaking. There's some good stuff here, and the core of the plot is solid. Keep at it, homeslice.