Painting the Wall

I paint, I clean, I water the plants. The cycle never ends. The dirt accumulates on the wooden floors and I sweep. Then I need to water the plants again, so I go outside and bring back some dirt. So I sweep again. It prides me to make the little house presentable.

The light-shades gather bucketfuls of insects. If you need a source of protein, just grab a step-ladder and set it up in the living room. Every three days there are enough insects to make a meal for a bodybuilder. Every two days, there are enough even for skinny, old me.

Speaking of bodybuilders, my right arm is pulling me off balance because it’s so overdeveloped from painting the Western wall of the house. I’m a twig with a tree trunk sticking out of my right side. The East and North walls don’t seem to take as much abuse from the sun as the Western wall. As you can imagine, I hold the brush in my right hand and for hours it’s up-stroke, down-stroke, up-stroke… I dream of painting each time I finish that wall, and when the recurrent dreams come to an end, it’s time to paint again.

I use a different coloured paint each time. Last time it was an ugly, earthy green. This time I much prefer the deep, dark red. I didn’t choose the colour, and I wouldn’t even change the colour if I had the choice.

The other day there were dinner guests at the house. I was still covered in speckles of maroon paint which made me look like a mass-murderer. Anyone with an ounce of sense could see that I’d been painting, but not these people. I had to stop serving the food and wait in the basement until they left. Oh, I’m sorry. Did I lead you to believe that this is my house?

The next morning I awoke to find a note by my bedroll. “I can see green through the red. Paint it all again. In yellow.” I was planning to water the plants. Instead I found a bucket of yellow paint that had been left for me on the front porch. I had no choice but to begin work. If there was any maroon, or any green showing through, I might have to paint the wall blue the following day.

The day is done and I sit down to my tin of baked beans. I make sure no one is looking and I tip in some of the bugs that I collected from the light-shade earlier in the day. I’m summoned to the front porch. “What is this?” barks the Master. I look at the yellow wall. It’s the yellowest wall I ever saw.

He barks at me again. “What is this?”

I don’t know what to say. He scrapes a huge flake of paint off the wall with a kitchen knife. “I see some maroon there!” He hands me the knife and orders me to clean it and put it away. I’m trapped. He’s trying to provoke me. As much as I’d like to see the knife sticking out of his ear, I resist the urge. He laughs.

The next morning I wake up to a bucket of orange paint by my bedroll. I paint the wall better than ever. I use every last drop, and yet again the job isn’t good enough for the Master. The next morning I awake to the sight of another bucket of paint by my bedroll, but that wasn’t what awoke me. It was the sound of sirens and helicopters that awoke me.

Ah, the police must have seen the name of my captor spelled out on the roof of the house. It would have been hard to miss since it was written in bright orange paint.

T.

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