by Jake Christie

OCEAN OR SKY.
a story.

The painting took up half the wall – half the apartment, really – and as far as Gary could tell it was either a stretch of ocean or a stretch of sky. He put one foot up on the couch cushion and leaned in, looking for some kind of title on the frame.

The black and blue oil reached off the canvas, sticking up in mountainous gelatinous three-dee blobs. He remembered reading once that oils are so viscous and take so long to dry that paintings in the Louvre could still be smudged.

“Where'd you get this?” he called over his shoulder.

The faucet in the kitchen squeaked off. Brian leaned in from the other room, his shirt soaked through from vigorous dish-washing. “Get what?” he said.

“This painting,” said Gary. “It looks expensive.”

Brian shrugged. He stepped back into the kitchen and the faucet turned on again. How something so enormous, so monstrous, could have made its way into his apartment without Brian being aware of it struck Gary as strange.

He stepped off the couch and backed up until he was against the opposite wall of the room. From here the paint's globs were invisible and the oils looked two-dimensional again. The mysterious ocean or sky from nowhere stretched across the wall in silence, examined or unexamined, and defied anybody to understand it.


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