I picked at the red that was caked under my fingernails using a rough bristle brush. The cold water from the faucet covered my hands, the water in the hotel sink turning a transparent pink before swirling down the drain. I wanted the paint scrubbed from under my skin, my impurities completely purged.

I don’t know why I do it, and honestly, I don’t care to ponder long enough to figure it out. My art is what moves me, captivates me. It’s my way of leaving an imprint on others. Art is creation, so who are you to judge its maker? That being said, I am not meant to be followed, for following me will lead to your inevitable, glorious demise.

Like this fair maiden that lies before me. A hand painted masterpiece, carefully crafted by my own steady hands. Her gentle eyelids were open just barely, her mouth slightly agape. From her intricately designed face to the gentle touch of her makeup. Her hair and carefully manicured nails became the backbone of the canvas. 

Yes, number 17 was perfect. The sharp, scarlet lines across her sternum, the deep, murmuring of the bruises on her neck, the tender stroke of blood that ran down her cheek. Each wound was the paint, the color, and the texture.

Her life, her dim, fading life was the detail I needed for my stunning work of art. I knelt down to wipe the stray tear from her face, her eyes weakly met mine with a soft pleading. Her delicate lips attempted to reason, to bargain with me. To somehow, in some way awaken sympathy within me.  Her right hand reached out to me, touching my knee.

“Please.” She whispered gently. “Please, Dean. Don’t do this.”

At that moment, I saw her: number 1. Her quiet blonde hair, rosy lips just shy of blush. Her eyes were refreshing pools that could conjure the taste of rainwater to the tip of your tongue.

Number 1 was a blank canvas. My first ever painting.

Another tear rolls down 17’s cheek. My sweet, sweet Antionette.

My face hovered over hers. My hand rested on her cheek, my own face softened.

She’s so beautiful.


Her delightful body went limp, her eyes wide with ravishing fright.

At last, my masterpiece had been completed.

Art Credit: Brooklyn Rhea