Flash Fiction: “Blob” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story using the words leftover paint, mermaid, tide, sun, chilly.

This week’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the kidlit Corgi Capers mystery series. Check it out at corgicapers.com. Book 4 is in the works ?


By Val Muller

Lily sat at the kid table in the corner of Natalia’s studio, poking her plastic paintbrush at her 97-cent watercolors, scowling at Natalie through messy curls. Natalia tried to ignore the gaze as she studied the acrylic painting she’d just completed.

No—not yet. Another brush, just in the upper corner. Just—there.


Natalia started to tear off the waxy sheet of her disposable paint palette, but Lily’s eyes stopped her.

“What?” Natalia asked.

“You always throw away the leftover paint.” She pouted her lips.

“I’m done with the painting,” Natalia said. “Now to pack it and ship it. Another commission, another paycheck. Time is money.”

“But paint is money, too,” Lily said. She looked down at her 97-cent paint set and frowned. “You could give the paint to me?”

Natalie sighed. “You’re only five.”

“Almost six.”

“Almost six, but acrylic is messy.” Natalie studied her painting once more. This one was a commission for a pet portrait. A late cat seated on a royal blue pillow with teal curtains billowing in the background.

“You paint all day for other people, but you’ve never painted anything for me.” Lily’s eyes drilled into Natalia. The girl’s chilly frown froze her heart. Natalie stopped and thought. Was that true? When Lily was a baby, Natalie had so many plans for painting milestones, portraits, tributes…but life got in the way, and commissions paid the bills.

Natalia looked down at the globs of paint on the paper—the globs that usually ended up in the trash. For some reason, Natalie remembered Mrs. Crawford, her elementary school painting teacher, the one who taught her at the after-school studio. It was those classes where she learned to appreciate the textures, the feel, the colors of the paint. It had been her epiphany, her calling into the world of art. It seemed now a lifetime ago, a memory of a rising sun long since blotted out by the ordinary glare of daytime. The commissions, the paychecks, they’d become so robotic, so automatic, like floating from one day to the next on a meandering life raft, hoping the tide was taking her somewhere better.

Lily had by this time dipped her brush in the black paint and was washing over her childish painting—whatever it had been she’d painted; Natalia rarely took the time to really look—with shadow.

“I know I haven’t painted for you,” Natalia said finally. “Yet.”

Lily’s brush froze mid-shadow.

“But I have an idea. From now on, any leftover paint is yours.”

Lily put her brush into the water cup and stared at Natalia, eyes blank as if trying to comprehend a foreign tongue.

“I don’t mean a free-for-all. I mean whatever’s left, I’ll use to teach you to paint. You’re young, but it’s never too soon to start.”

Natalia barely blinked, and Lily was standing next to her, eagerly waiting. Natalia opened her painting pad to a new sheet.

“For our first lesson…” She looked at the blue and teal blobs remaining on the palette. They spoke of the tide. “We’ll paint one of your favorite things.”

“A mermaid?” Lily asked.

Natalia nodded, then placed a paintbrush in Lily’s hand. “This is the grown-up kind,” Lily shrieked.

Natalie nodded again, remembering the first “real brush” she’d held, how cool it felt in her hand, how quickly it turned warm with her body heat, almost as if part of her, the smell of the paint, the sound of the bristles.

“Our first lesson—blending.”

Natalia was always sure to use just a bit too much paint on all her commissions going forward.

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/


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