Artistic Licence [Flash Fiction]
An irregular drumbeat filled the air, a series of staccato thuds that set Anneka’s heart racing. She felt it in her chest, in her mind, caressing her skin, filling her from head to toe, making her body twitch as she swayed to the primal pulse. As she reached for the door, the trill of a flute joined the beat of the drum, its melody intertwining around the heavy staccato. A smile tugged at one corner of her lips. The place sounded in full swing tonight.
Inside Xanadu, the main lights had been dimmed. A rainbow of spotlights aimed at a large disco ball sent firefly reflections dancing around the room, skimming over walls and patrons alike, painting them all the same regardless of skin tone and gender. Here, they had more in common than they did in difference. They were all artists. All criminals. All risking their lives to express themselves.
Anneka passed by the sculpting area, where men and women worked on thick leathers to protect their bare feet from the chips and shavings of stone and wood, and the squishy coldness of dropped clay. Why don’t you just wear shoes? somebody had once suggested. Much scorn had ensued. Sculpting was best done shoe-less. Everybody knew that.
By the time she’d ordered a drink from the bar, another two musicians had joined those on the stage. She recognised Ted, on the French horn, and Margo, on the cello. At first, discord reigned, the cello and the drums battling each other to set the tempo, the horn and the flute competing for melody. But then, the rhythm settled, the players complementing each other, and harmony draped its soothing blanket over the patrons in the room.
At the painter’s corner, her home away from home, Anneka found her best friend, Neil, offering advice to Keiko on her surrealist painting of a waterfall. She smiled at the purples and blues and whites, triangular forms cascading down a bare drop of brown and grey. Keiko’s work was a masterpiece, but nobody outside this room would ever be able to appreciate it. The diminutive woman’s artistic licence had been revoked six years ago, her nude portrait of the President of Earth deemed unsuitable for the classical direction human creativity ought to take. Ironic, given that the nude form was the most classical of all.
A worm of envy burrowed its way through Anneka’s stomach, as it did every time she saw Keiko’s work. She herself had never even had a licence to be revoked. Unfortunately, Ms. Lindberg, your work does not meet the minimum standard required of public artists. You may wish to refocus your attempts onto a subject more socially acceptable, such as landscapes.
She banished the worm and picked up the spray can. Before her, on the wall, was the image she’d been working on for the past week. A rainbow wrapped around a charred and cracked Earth. Crouching down, she angled her can, spraying her words of defiance beneath the rainbow of creativity.
“Can you picture how it would be if artists were allowed to tell the truth?”
Just a little story for Chuck Wendig’s Friday flash fiction challenge. This story was inspired by AUTOBOTS. I mean, err, INSPIROBOT! That’s where the featured image is from, by the way. Canines still keeping me busy, but having lots of fun.