Two stories by Sunday Writers’ Club Members
Caroline Stevenson and Connie Phlipot
Creative writing inspired by the Sunday Writers’ Club prompt: Paint Me a Picture of…
Grandma’s Sweater (Benjamin Moore); Divine Pleasure (Behr); Julie’s Dream (Little Greene); Frozen in Time (Benjamin Moore); Elephant’s Breath (Farrow&Ball); Bagel (Behr). These are genuine names of commercially available paint. Choose one as the title for a story or poem – what colourful shade is it and what images does it inspire? Or maybe think about who is painting it on their walls, in which room, and what images or memories does evoke for them
Cloak of Aspiration: The Shade of Household Paint for the Worthy
By Caroline Stevenson
Don’t tell me you wouldn’t bathe in this colour if you could.
Perhaps you do already? Reclining resplendently in the gold-foil suds.
If so, good for you! It’s the reward for tough toil.
Your ancestors had the sense to explore beyond the mud,
same as with oil. And if their sense and status were of elevated ranking,
they sent other folks on their behalf to do the digging.
No one need tell you to “go big, or go home”
when the shade of your home is the quintessence of ambition
and your dreams are always scaling its ever-taller dome,
to never settle being your lifetime’s mission.
If mauve were so desirable, they’d dip Oscars in that shade.
It’s only gold that does justice to earnest wedding vows made.
Spandau Ballet made this precious metal sound awfully catchy.
And true, placed in the wrong hands, it can easily look tacky.
Don’t be put off by those towers commissioned by inadequate baby-men,
our tin of paint’s here to Make Aspiration Great Again.
Slather your walls in it, wear it as a cloak.
Who needs another living room with boring old oak?
An emblem of your style, achievement chartered in a domestic map,
and Lord knows, you wouldn’t be seen dead in a cap.
Sunday Writers' Club Member
Caroline has been writing with Sunday Writers’ Club since day 1. She’s part of the SWC furniture, really (golden furniture, not oak); and we love reading and sharing her writing with the world.
Paint Swatch No. 506 – Grandmother’s Sweater
By Connie Phlipot
Fuchsia… was that what you call it? The pinkness blazed through the front room window, a beacon driving my eyes toward Grandma’s kitchen as I rode past on my way to Sally’s house.
“What was she thinking?” I asked my grandmother’s old friend. We sat drinking tea from pink-flowered cups. A pink that I had thought a touch too bright. Until I saw Grandma’s kitchen. Now the pink of the cups seemed pale, delicate as a fresh rosebud.
Sally shrugged. “She doesn’t always read directions, you know. Maybe she didn’t mix it correctly.”
“Mmm. Perhaps. But then why did she keep painting?”
“You could just ask her. Here take these cookies. Your grandmother loves them. And go over there.” She took a stack of almond biscotti from a pink-flowered serving plate and wrapped them in wax paper.
Sally had been married to an Italian American from outside of Buffalo. After the first few painful years of marriage, she had decided to learn to cook Italian food. American “red sauce” Italian. “The secret to our long happy marriage,” as she always ended the story. No one knew if it was true, but many doubted it. One of our neighbors claimed that Sally had always known how to cook Italian. In fact her grandmother on her mother’s side was from Sicily. And that the problems in their marriage had to do with Sally’s fondness for the caramel haired young man who repaired her car. Nonetheless, Sally’s house, even ten years after Joseph had passed, was always redolent with fennel-spiced sausage and the sweetness of tomatoes slow cooking on the gas stove. I didn’t know what she did with all that sauce until I peeked into her 6 feet tall freezer when I took a bag of give-away clothes to the basement for her. Plastic containers with dates of preparation marked on them from before my birth were stacked on the wire shelves. 1973 — I could see her spooning pizza sauce into containers while listening to the Watergate hearings.
I put the biscotti in my backpack and headed to my grandmothers. The kitchen glowed like a mirror image to the setting sun. I leaned my bike against the cement stoop, knocked lightly on the screen door and went inside. The turpentine smell of fresh paint contrasted unpleasantly with the aroma of Sally’s kitchen. Grandma was sitting on the stool she kept beside the high shelves of her pantry. Her close-cropped hair stuck to her forehead in sweaty ringlets. She wiped her forehead with her apron ties before looking up at me. Her eyes were excitedly bright behind her paint smudged glasses.
“What do you think? Cheerful no?”
I swallowed my questions. “Yes, it’s … yes, it’s very bright.”
“Maybe I should have toned it down with a bit more white, but the more I painted, the more I liked it.”
“I thought you were going for a pale, rose shade.”
“Yes, that’s what your mother suggested. But as I stood in the hardware store in front of all those beautiful colors, I just couldn’t decide on that one.”
Grandma got up from the stool and went over to the kitchen table covered in a rainbow of paint swatches. “You see how smart these paint people are.” She picked up on of the swatches. “Each one goes from a light to a deep shade in the same hue. I think that’s how you say it. Hues and shades. I brought them all home, even ones that I knew I wouldn’t want. She waved one that looked like the shades of a ripening firehose. “Take this. I mean, how could anyone consider this?”
“But this one…” she rooted through the swatches to find the color of the newly painted kitchen. “Here this is it. Grandmother’s sweater, it’s called.”
“Really? I would think that would be something pale, sedate.”
“Exactly.” She held the swatch up against her kitchen walls. She had used the brightest of the hue. “But think about it. Who needs a shot of brightness more than a grandmother? And who no longer has to care about neighbor’s opinions, or even your mother’s. By the way, does she know about this?”
“No, I haven’t talked to her today.”
“Well, good. She’ll hate it, but what can she do about it? I want to be greeted in the morning with this shout of happiness. To open my drapes and let the world out there share this glorious color.”
I handed her the wax paper package. “Okay, so let’s eat Sally’s cookies.”
Sunday Writers' Club Member
Connie draws upon her experiences as a former U.S. diplomat in her short stories, flash fiction and creative non-fiction. Her novel-in-progress is loosely based on her grandparents’ lives as Belarusan immigrants in the coal mining community of early 20th century America.