Ten weeks he’d spent in the hospital, ten weeks learning to shut out all the extraneous input. Ten weeks since he woke up from the accident that sparked something inside his brain that had been locked away from humanity, or perhaps it was just forgotten soon after birth.
He loved to tell people he fell into a vat of radioactive acid. That was much more interesting than the truth, which was complicated and full of medical mumbo-jumbo.
The art museum was supposed to be a quiet outing, a peaceful environment without excessive stimulation.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The paintings… they had… soul. That was not the right word, but it was the closest he could come. No human language had words that could describe what he saw… or sensed, as it went far beyond sight. His eyes perceived more than the usual human range of wavelengths from about 390 to 750 nanometers. And beyond that, some other perception had been awakened in him, some superpower of sense that he knew (though how he knew was a mystery) was innate in all peoples. He knew the paintings. Not in the sense that he’d visited the museum before, which he had, many times. He knew the paintings in an intimate sense. Carnal. Sensual.
“No…stop! I’m fine… don’t move me…” he insisted when his nurse attempted to roll his chair out of the exhibit. He was poised at a Jackson Pollock. Lavender Mist, from 1950. People called the artist’s work infantile; “splatter paintings” that any preschooler could produce.
They couldn’t be further from the truth. He’d known it before, but only as a leap of faith that there was something… something else going on in the painting that was just out of his grasp. Now, with his newfound superpowers, he could finally see for himself just what that something was.
The superpowers did not grant him the words. He had no means of sharing, no means of recording, he could only experience.
He closed his eyes.
Beauty, once seen, is never lost. I don’t remember who to attribute the quote to, but I know it’s true.
The beauty of the painting would never be lost. Or rather, more than beautiful, the humor of the painting would never be lost. But like a joke told without an audience, it remained useless. He could not share the joke with anyone. The only other person who knew… the teller of the joke. The artist, long dead.
Did he see?
He decided that Jackson had to have seen.
It was not knowledge he grasped, it was knowledge he created.
And no one understood that, either.
This post was written for a Write On Edge Prompt that was a photo of the painting in a museum with the guards. I used one of my favorite Science Fiction themes… the idea that there are aspects of our world that we simply do not yet understand.
Concrit is welcome! This is a rough draft, typed directly into the blog as I pantsed it. I love pantsing. Go ahead, depants me… I dare you!
My short story Abandon is in PRECIPICE, the Literary Anthology of Write on Edge. (Edited by Cameron Garriepy)
Abandon is about a woman who uses tattoos to help her through a difficult time. (Women’s Fiction)
My short story In the Closet is in FELT TIPS, the world’s first anthology of office-supply related erotica. (Edited by Tiffany Reisz)
In the Closet is about a woman whose anniversary dinner is cut short, and the voyeuristic AI who helps her deal with her frustration. (SciFi Erotica)