I’ve been talking a lot about this new story I’m working on lately. It started as a short story, but it quickly grew beyond that and is becoming a novel. For September I will be sharing chapter 1 from this new novel which I’m currently calling Fire and Feathers. It is about a woman recently graduated from college trying to make ends meet as a portrait painter. But there is something off about the studio space she is renting and the little apartment above it.
Here’s a little sample:
Fire and Feathers: Chapter 1
The drying smears of paint on Gwen’s palette were getting harder and harder to work with on the canvas before her. She stood at an easel set in the center of living room above her rented studio space attempting to add a few strokes to a new painting. This painting would not help with the rent as it was only for her and, once finished, would be quickly relegated to the closet with her other works she kept to herself.
The subject of the painting was the living room wall. That wall had driven Gwen to sign the rental papers for the building. Downstairs was an open space she dreamed of running a successful portrait studio from. Upstairs was an old two bedroom apartment. The plaster crumbled and hung from the walls, exposing the structure and electrical writing beneath, and the floors were stripped of all carpet and linoleum down to the worn boards. Though the wall wasn’t the true subject of the painting.
Every child, at one time or another, is terrified by faces found in the patterns of wood grain and stains. At the age of six two knots in the foot board of Gwen’s bed stared back at her while a darkened line in the grain formed a nightmarish sneer. After this initial discovery Gwen saw hidden faces in every mundane surface and they terrified her. Her parents quickly tired of her running into their bedroom at night and forced her back to her own room after a week of crowded nights in their bed. Like any precocious youth she was drawn to that which she feared and became obsessed with the hidden faces. She saw them in spilled milk on the breakfast table, she saw them in the cheap foam tiles hung above her high school art room, she even saw them in the scars, freckles, and scrapes on human skin. She never lost the unease of so many eyes staring at her from every surface and, in an effort to gain a sense of control over her unease, she began to count the faces, and later record them in drawings and paintings.
Recording them made her feel she had power over the faces instead of they over her, no matter how deformed and menacing and deep into the uncanny valley they were. She never shared these works with anyone, just hid them away. As an adult her private paintings were a continuation of the same ritual.
The wall was filled with faces and she was compelled to capture them all.
I hope you liked what you read here. If you want to read the rest of chapter 1 one it becomes availiable be sure to become a $3+ patron before the end of the month. In the beginning of September the entirety of the chapters goes out to my wonderful patrons.