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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: "Splash" 4-11-13 Deadline (04/04/13)

TITLE: Artful Truth
By Sarah Elisabeth
~4th Place


I stared at the blood red paint splattered on the concrete wall cracked by the weeds growing through it. I hefted the gallon of white and paused. This occasion didn’t deserve white. I set it down and lifted the brown and gray I’d mixed in another bucket. I slung the mix at the wall.


It splattered and dripped in the circle of light that shone from the only streetlamp that could reach under this bridge. As soon as I saw this spot two nights ago, I knew it was the right place. The streetlamp made a round spot on the crumbling wall, a circle of white like Grandmother Moon. She understood what I was doing. She understood the cycles of life. And death.

I set the empty bucket next to the coil of rope I’d stolen along with the paint buckets. Well, I didn’t steal them. The warehouse owed me back pay when they fired me for fighting with the idiot who called me sissy for the long braid that hung down my back. Some people were so ignorant. Even the warehouse boss. He didn’t know about the key I’d already had copied.

The gentle breeze of the mild summer night stopped the dripping of the gray and brown mix. I lifted the yellow paint and, in a smooth arc, sent it flying as an offering to Grandmother Moon.


Davis was my best friend on the Rez three years back. Both at the ripe old age of thirteen, he had wanted me to do it with him. But I was waiting for my father to come back and get me. One day, my father did.

I should have hung myself like Davis.

My father said he would take me to see the world. Turned out the world was full of beer joints and cops.

The yellow paint dripped slowly to the buckled concrete of the old sidewalk. It mixed with the dirt until its true color was distorted. It was lost in the filth.

So intent was I on the colors in Grandmother Moon’s light, I didn’t hear the shuffling feet until they were almost next to me. I tensed, then relaxed. It was just an old black man with a sack over his shoulder. He looked at the mess of paint buckets around me and lowered his bag. It took him a long time to straighten up.

“What you doing, son?”

“Watching paint dry.”

A chuckle. “I guess there are worse things you could get yourself into.” He gazed at my wall creation, the piece of art I would leave behind this night.

He scratched at the stubble on his chin. “Why red?”

“You would not understand.”

“Son, I been around awhile. Give me a chance.”

If only someone had given me a chance, I wouldn’t be homeless on the streets of a city that swallowed me whole. “Red is for my people. For our blood. For the beauty of who we are.”

The black man nodded slowly. “The brown and gray?”

“My hills. My home.”

The man wouldn’t understand and I wasn’t going to explain about our sacred homelands still desecrated by the white leaders, so-called great heroes.


“The sun.”

The paint was stable enough. It was time for the final color. I lifted the largest bucket and paused, wishing the man would leave. This moment finalized all the others.

Splash! Splash! Splash!

I made sure the entire wall of color was covered over with the black paint. Grandmother Moon still shone on it, giving her blessing to my decision.

“Why black, son?”

I stared at my creation. “In the end, it didn’t matter what the other colors were. There’s no beauty in the end.”

We stood for awhile, watching the paint glisten in the light. It was still dripping when the old man bent over. I didn’t pay attention to him until I saw him step closer to the wall, paint bucket in hand.


Splat. Splat.

His throw was weak, but enough to cover the black with white. I couldn’t move, didn’t understand.

The old black man came back to me. “Now you can start over.”

He took a battered pocket knife from his bag and began to swipe and scrape at the paint.

Moments later, he retrieved his bag and walked away. He looked over his shoulder. “With God, our end is His beginning.”

In the white and black paint, he left behind a dripping cross.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Ellen Carr 04/12/13
This is a masterful piece of writing with a lot of depth. You have revealed the reason for what is happening gradually and built up the tension well. Your use of language is beautiful and your story very moving. Very well done!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/12/13
This is such an intense piece. The feelings and pain of the MC was palpable. The character has such a sense of pain, I want to reach through and comfort him. I do wonder if everyone will get the Native American references as they were subtle but I also understand the word count limits you. This MC is screaming for more space to tell his story. I do hope you will consider expanding this as it is awesome and leaves me wanting to read more and more.
Lori Dixon04/13/13
Engaging! Love the dialogue and redemption story. I agree with Shann in that these characters should be expanded! Kind of reminds me of the book,
'The Same Kind of Different'.
Pray about it and see if He doesn't want you to go further with this story! Great job!
lynn gipson 04/13/13
Exceptional. Though I found it painful to read, if it was a book I couldn't put it down. Very well written with such emotional charges. Great Job.
Alicia Renkema04/13/13
I couldn't agree more with the comments that your piece makes one want to know more of this powerful story, this incredible truth of God's colors being one. I got and loved your "Native American" references, however, their history has always had a special place in my heart. I love the way this piece ends, but as you mention with the Lord's endings being His beginnings, your ending here should serve as a beginning for your next piece... Like someone has already mentioned, pray about it. That is the best advice anyone could give. This was not an easy read but a deeply meaningful one. Thank you for writing it.Your language and dialogue in the right places were spot on.
Alicia Renkema04/13/13
I also loved how splash turned to splat -- that was a stroke of genius for "splats" stick better than "splashes" do.
Bea Edwards 04/14/13
Your entry was mesmerizing. A unique tapestry of words and blending of culture. Superbly written with a perfect ending!
Christina Banks 04/14/13
Wow. That's all I can say. This piece is powerful.
Judith Gayle Smith04/14/13
Painfully rivetting. I agree - this is a book in the making.
Myrna Noyes04/15/13
Artful story containing artful truth! :) You painted a great picture with your words! I loved how each color meant something meaningful to your MC, and I appreciated the interaction between the MC and the black man. Of course, the ending was superb! :)
Michelle Knoll 04/16/13
This is excellent. The pain of the MC is felt, deeply felt. The ending is moving. And it begs for more to be told. I hope you are planning to develop your MC and the old black man further, because I see an interesting story developing between them.
C D Swanson 04/17/13
This was so powerful and entertaining at once. I really thought it had a profound ending, with meaning beyond our understanding.

Thanks. God bless~
Myrna Noyes04/18/13
CONGRATULATIONS on your E.C. win for this most-excellent piece! WAY TO WRITE!! :)
Alicia Renkema04/18/13
Fourth over all and a 3rd placing in your level, I am thrilled for you, but mostly for God's kingdom, for I believe this piece has the potential to plant many seeds. Blessing of His joy!
Nancy Bucca04/18/13
Wow, what a creative story and such a great message t the end. Well worth the read. Congrats on coming in 4th.
Beth LaBuff 04/18/13
Masterfully written, Sarah. I'm thankful there was someone to offer him Hope. Super congrats on your Editor's Choice award!
Christina Banks 04/19/13
Congratulations on your EC. Well done!
Judith Gayle Smith04/20/13
Claudia Thomason04/22/13
This story does beg to be expanded. Perhaps it will be a book in the hands of Native American young people looking for purpose if they haven't already found it. Powerful. Congratulations on your EC.