Paint By Numbers

Sir Julius Vogel Awards 2013: Short Fiction Finalist

A dark piece of pyschological SF. Close to my heart, being the first piece I ever sold to a print magazine. Not a free one to read on the page, I’m afraid, but ASIM is a great magazine and well worth the price of the magazine or a subscription. Available in electronic or print formats.

Alternatively, you can download it for free in audio form from the StarShipSofa podcast.

Here’s a sample:

Everything seems oddly familiar, as if I had seen it somewhere before. Perhaps it is just a place that makes one feel as if they had come home. The table is set for two, everything arranged to suggest the walls had been waiting to receive not just one, but another. The house has been waiting, perhaps, for me.

There are no photos; no fragments of life and memory splintering through the walls, glimpsing at a past I can only imagine. There are gaps, however, as though things have been removed. Like a past erased.

Nor does she have any of my paintings.

This makes me sad, though I cannot say why. My paintings mean nothing, so why should I wish them upon anyone?

There are shelves of books, tales of strange worlds and distant lands, and a small desk where she sometimes sits and writes, making her own worlds, her own adventures. When I ask to read them she blushes and shakes her head. They are not ready, she says, not even for me.

I do not ask her about the empty rooms, the closed doors.

It is summer, and we throw wide the double doors onto the verandah, letting the sun pour in until it sets. The lake glistens silver throughout the day, yet I cannot bring myself to stare at it for long. The sight of it brings me pain, as much as a construct such as I might feel pain, and I look instead to the jawing peaks, the spangled dark, where the snow and the utter silence of space chill my bones.”

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