Author: The Stare-Master PM
People never take the time to look at their surroundings. When Kim Miller does, she sees more than the objects in her New York City apartment. She sees her friends, her childhood, and bits and pieces of herself.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family - Words: 1,647 - Published: 01-05-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3089523
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A/N: A vignette written for my creative writing class. The prompt was "a decription of a person or a room".
Kim does not have a bedroom. Her loft apartment has only a single sprawling room, disregarding the tiny bathroom that was tacked on during the process of converting the factory to living space. The floor measures about thirty feet from entrance to opposite wall and twenty-five feet from side-to-side. This space has been resourcefully used, every little nook and cranny put to some use or another.
Connecting the room to the dimly lit hall of the industrial apartment building hangs a narrow door—and it does hang. The hinges, nailed to the doorframe hastily, are bent and breaking. The entire frame slants unpromisingly out from the wall in a way that prevents the lock from completely shutting. Whenever Kim leaves her apartment, she always kicks the dreaded door with contempt, a vain effort to get the handle to latch entirely. Despite the entryway's many shortcomings, the actual wood of the door is beautiful. Without permission, Kim broke out her spray-paints several days after she moved in and set to work. A vivid, lively medley of orange and green blossoms on both sides of the warped wood. Although this clearly violates the building's rules against vandalism, the land-lord has not acted upon this infringement and—in all likelihood—never will.
Opposite the mess of a door is a wall of windows. It isn't, technically speaking, a wall at all. The windows span from corner to corner and reach from floor to ceiling. Although the mass of glass racks up quite the heating bill during winter months, the view they command is the primary reason that Kim rented the apartment. Through the purple smog that snakes up from the far-below streets, a panorama of the New York City skyline displays itself majestically. How stunning this view can prove to be when the great expanse of sky is stained with red and the only thing interrupting it are the blue-black shadows of the city's very tallest buildings. In the morning, the eastern wall running parallel to the hallway keeps the apartment in a soothing shade soaked with quiet. Even the traffic noise seems to drift past the room, failing to penetrate any cracks in the walls and seep into the studio. Come three in the afternoon, however, the dazzling sun spills into the hideaway, stirring the air and illuminating a plethora of dust motes. Although she has never fully become conscious of the fact, Kim often sits on her yoga mat and stares into nothingness, her eyes settling on the floating particles as they catch the liquid light and make their unrushed descent to the hardwood floor. It is at times like these that the sun becomes a living, breathing entity, spilling into the studio, dripping viscously down the walls, seeping between bookshelves, and even brushing Kim with its feather-light touch. This very light that exists only in her room, sifted through a layer of purplish smog and filtered past lucent red curtains, shows itself in a delicate shade of fuchsia.
Warped, sagging bookshelves line the two walls perpendicular to the windows, interrupted only by the door to the hall. These bookshelves, practically distended with the weight of books and art materials, protrude from the wall nearly two feet. Kim found the furniture already present when she moved in, disintegrating and not worth the effort of moving. Instead of selling and scrapping them, she piled her multitude of books on to the shelves. How indispensable they are now, repositories for not only her leftover paint but also her old Polaroid photographs and crayon doodles. Unframed, these grainy pictures hang from the edges of the bookshelves, held up by scotch tape. Kim uses scotch tape for everything—ripped papers need scotch tape, broken water bottle lids are held shut with scotch tape, rips in her blue beanie-bag chair are mended with scotch tape.
Her childhood needs scotch tape, too. She rips a piece of the clear adhesive off of its roll and neatly closes the rips in the aging photographs, effectively sealing the past she wishes did not exist. One such photograph has so much tape covering its surface that any light coming from any direction will create a white glare, obscuring the actual picture. But Kim doesn't need to see the picture to know what it shows. Before she falls asleep every night, Kim stares at the photo. Two little girls, about five and eight, are bent over a grouping of raspberry bushes. The eight-year-old's tongue protrudes ever-so-slightly from her lips and her gaze is fixed on a single point, presumably a concentration of the red fruit before her. The five-year-old, although posed similarly, seems distracted, smiling widely at something far in the distance. Kim knows that this little girl is looking at her father walking down the road from a mailbox, newspaper in hand, cigarette clamped fashionably between thin lips. On good days she merely glances at it, a habit deeply engrained in the recesses of her mind. But when something has gone wrong—a painting ruined, a lecture botched, some sort of mistake made—she stands before the photograph, suspended both in time and space, her subconscious tugging her toward that moment all those years ago, toward that little raspberry bush, but her logical mind keeping her rooted to the here and now.
Canvases lay strewn about the floor. Visitors that come and go—the landlord, a few colleagues, a distant relative or two—always think (but never comment) that Kim's apartment is an absolute mess. However, they know that, being an artist, Kim has an excuse for the state of her living space. Cleaning for her means stacking unfinished, finished, and partially finished works in a corner and kicking leaking tubes of paint into a pile. Three easels always sit in front of a bookshelf that remains partially empty and infrequently used. Each is occupied at any given time. The wooden frames are caked with dried paint and ink, and the three lopsided legs on each make the easels tip to one side or the other. Although this means that her canvases are also tilted, Kim opts not to fix this little detail. The slightly tilted faces and landscapes that come into being under these circumstances seem to possess more character, more pulsing life, than any others that she has created. Over the five years that this studio-apartment has been her home, the hardwood flooring has come to resemble a bright, chaotic mural. An especially large stain of yellow blooms on the floor, its tendrils snaking haphazardly in something of a spiral. This particular mark came into existence while Kim was juggling groceries, art supplies, and the door. Without thinking about the possible fiasco that could ensue, she had refused to put down any of her plastic bags, supporting them with her knee as she fought to get the ancient door past its catch. Twisting to gain more leverage, a bag had slipped off of her upper leg and broken open at the sudden tension. A paint jar had come tumbling down. The little glass container shattered with explosive force and shot paint in every direction, including Kim-ways. Splattered with yellow and very aggravated, Kim had dropped her other bags down and let the door stay open, wanting to find a dustpan to gather up all of the glass shards. Whenever she looks at the yellow, however, she smiles and knows that she made the right choice by leaving the spill to dry. Along with other various spots and lines, the yellow adds to the already-colorful room.
Kim's bed sits in a corner, headboard resting just below the windows. The frame is old-fashioned metal, rust beginning to form on its feet. She changes her sheets once a week, but her down comforter always stays. Even in the summer months she curls up under it, if not for warmth then for comfort. The thick, soft blanket has a bright pattern: uneven red, blue, and orange stripes cut the material into distinct sections. Although the comforter was worn even before she went off to university, the thought of leaving it behind never occurred to her as she moved into the new apartment. Many nights are spent burrowed under it reading and drawing. When rain pounds relentlessly on the wall of windows, Kim likes to hole up under the thick, downy blanket with her sketch book. The more personal of her artwork is drawn at these times. With the familiar scent of her comforter and the warmth that it radiates, her thoughts tend to stray in the direction of the past. Memories waft to the surface of her consciousness like bittersweet wisps of smoke. Although this habit yields incredible artwork, the images left etched on the backs of her eyelids frequently drive her out from under the covers, off the bed, even out of the apartment and into the streets. So, in a certain sense, having a bed at all can be problematic. When Kim was looking for apartments, one of her conditions was that the place couldn't have a bedroom. In her opinion, bedrooms are a waste of space. She doesn't need a separate place to sleep since she doesn't have any set sleep schedule. Kim paints until she can't keep her eyes open. Then she lies down for an hour or two, eats a snack, and continues painting. In a sense, her bed, her books, all of her possessions, pale in comparison to the three easels. Kim doesn't need her bedroom, doesn't need her books, doesn't even need her childhood, because she paints.