Captured quickly at the moment, a sketch can linger. It teases the mind with what has been included, as well as left out by the artist. But who is the artist? The one who creates a visual on the page or writes the vision imagined in the mind?
Writers took to their sketchbooks this week to draw stories of those who draw. Enjoy the resulting sketches.
June 28, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is a sketch or about a sketch.
PART I (10-minute read)
Rainy Day Sketches of a Very Small Village by Bill Engleson
There are two tables and five chairs on the General Store porch.
The location affords a front row seat on not much.
I relish looking at not much.
A delivery truck departs.
Our community eats a ton of chips.
I certainly do my bit.
There’s no late June morning sun.
Sprinkles nip the air.
“It’s like autumn,” she moans.
“So, you want to leave?”
“Too cold to people watch. Let’s go home. Check on Trump.”
I grimace, say, “Can’t beat cold weather people gawking. You go. Besides, Trump aggravates my hemorrhoids.”
“Maybe. Tell them that.”
Sketches by Anita Dawes
Looking for something to inspire me, I took a walk through our local flea market and fell in love with a half-finished sketch of a young woman lying on a grave.
I was about to ask how much, when a man standing beside me, said ‘It’s sad but lovely, isn’t it?’
My heart jumped so hard I thought I would join the woman at the graveside.
I turned to see who had spoken, but there was no one standing beside me.
The price was just £40 because it was unfinished work.
Holding it, I could see my grandmother’s signature…
Flash Fiction by Jan Malique
The artist’s model sat on the chair, her face reflecting a series of emotions. The sketch was infused with pathos and great delicacy. He had captured her sense of sadness, the yearning to be her true self. His hand had traced the lines of her face with such artistry and, love.
Love, what a loaded word. They always seemed to fall in love with her. She was Galatea to their Pygmalion. A dream glimpsed in marble and paint. Forever out of reach. Alas, unlike Pygmalion, Aphrodite hadn’t answered his prayers. This Muse was strictly off-limits, for everyone.
Muse Mother by H.R.R. Gorman
My mom taught me she had a superpower: any picture, from a grand work of art to a doodle on the fridge – could transport her. A wave of her hand and she could travel back in time, speak with the artist, and return instantly to entertain me with the tale.
As I got older, I realized she couldn’t do magic. Her power was a wealth of art history knowledge and a sensitivity to visual media. I confronted her about the lie.
She gave me a half-smile and filled up my lemonade. “Leonardo will be disappointed to find that out.”
Sketchy Perceptions by Norah Colvin
He sketched the outline with chalk then filled in the details, outside-in. Curious passers-by gathered as the image emerged. Was the artist a paid entertainer or busker earning a buck? Some pushed coins into children’s hands to add to the chalk-drawn cap. When satisfied with his work, the artist stood in its centre and tossed the cap and contents high. As they fell, he spread his arms and disappeared into the painting. Perplexed on-lookers reported different perceptions. Many said he plummeted into darkness. Some said he flew on gold-tipped wings. Others described him simply as absorbed by his art.
Topsy Turvy by Juliet Nubel
The audience watched in silence as the artist swept huge strokes of white paint onto the black canvas.
They were intrigued to see this man on stage. His act was far removed from the befrocked dancing poodles and gangly prancing singers.
The sketch was taking shape, gradually becoming a beautifully abstract snowy landscape, accomplished in three minutes flat.
As the clapping began, he turned the canvas on its head, revealing the unmistakable face of Albert Einstein.
A loud gasp filled the air.
The artist smiled as his message rang loud: look at things differently and all will become clear.
The Flower by Sarah Whiley
It was the same sketch every time.
All culminating to form a rudimentary flower.
For as long as I could remember, this was the “bored” doodle that I defaulted to.
I briefly wondered why.
I sighed a barely contained, deep exhalation, attempting to communicate the need for a break.
Why was it, that teacher professional development, all about the importance of engagement and best practice, used the exact opposite to inform its audience?
I looked up, hopeful, as the presenter paused.
Disappointingly, she promptly launched into the next diatribe.
Time for another flower…
An Urban Truth by Liz Husebye Hartmann
He shambles out of the park, swaying side-to-side, shyly dominating the Midtown sidewalk. Sun glints in his blonde-bronze pelt, furry toes squashing—or shall we say “squatching”?—his platform flip-flops.
Not that he needs the extra height. At 6’ 10’’, he towers over everyone he passes, including the tiny Russian grandma and her yappy little dog.
He hears a snatch of French Zydeco from a hipster coffee shop, and hops a quick shuffle and turn. He smiles, tipping his head to the babushka. Hot sun glints off his blinding canines.
She nods. They’re old friends, Sasquatch and Baba Yaga.
Beware the Man in Gray Teresa Grabs
The man in gray traveled alone. Always alone. He never stayed long in one town and never carried more than his sketch book and pencil that never seemed to whittle down to nothing no matter how many sketches he made. News traveled fast in these parts. Stories about the man in gray in the dead he leaves in his wake. Women in Empty Gulch saw him coming first and hollered for their children. Shutters slammed shut as he made his way through town. The miners quaked watching him sit down under the oak tree and open his sketch book.
It’s the Eyes by Wallie and Friend
There was no mistaking her pursed lips. It was always dangerous when she frowned at her own work. But for the last week, Annie hadn’t looked at her sketchbook any other way.
He asked what was the matter. It was an innocent question. He didn’t expect to be confronted with his own body.
“Technically, it’s perfect,” she said.
He didn’t know anything about art, and as embarrassing it was to see himself in graphite, he wasn’t about to argue.
His wife’s lips pursed again. She looked hard at his face.
“It’s the eyes. I just can’t capture your eyes.”
Assault in the Forest by Anurag Bakhshi
The sketch artist looked at me skeptically.
“You are saying the assault occurred without provocation?” he asked.
“Absolutely,” I replied unhesitatingly, “I was just walking home, minding my own business, when…”
The sketch artist shook his head and continued, “And you’re sure you didn’t see a face? I need something so that we can send out a BOLO.”
I screwed up my eyes in consternation, trying to grasp at that fleeting memory….the forest…the axe….
And as I finally remembered everything, I shouted,”It was a human female. She was riding a bicycle, and was wearing a red hood.”
Sketchy b FloridaBorne
A hospital bed elevated her upper body. One son took Lorna’s hand. Too weak to pull away, she tried ignoring the unwanted touch.
Strange the things a writer remembers. One of them was her mother’s plea to save “her children,” framed sketches of family life and childhood home, now tucked away in Lorna’s storage shed.
“Now I understand, mom,” Lorna whispered.
“What did you say?” Her son asked.
“Make sure my editor gets my books published.”
Her sons snickered, the same way she had when she’d said the same words to her mom, “We’ll take good care of them.”
The Sketch of Jessamine by Lady Lee Manilla
A sketch from a brother who loves her so
She who left us so early in her life
Siblings she left and grew long time ago
Let her soul be in peace in afterlife
Remember her poems, paintings, and art
Singing and dancing, seeing the wildlife
Her memories lingered on in our hearts
Her brother and sister are doing well
Sang like angel, played piano like Mozart
Jessamine was her name, our belle
Legacy of faith, love, and fun
She moved like she was a gazelle
She brought the light to us like sun
Treasured every moment with her
Picturing Us by Sascha Darlington
I have sketched us in charcoal on stark white. I have obliterated lines, assuaged others. The charcoal coats my fingertips, chin, and cheeks. Lines become blurred as I adjust, change, smooth angles. Your eyes, your smile are not right. I sketch you again, and somehow, my own image becomes fragmented, disjointed, a smear of darkness. Frustrated, I draw myself. Yet, when I peer into the mirror, my eyes haunt me, but I cannot convey this on paper despite my attempts. Ignoring the mirror, I start again. You and me, side-by-side, but somehow, despite numerous iterations, we never come together.
Raw Romance by kate @ aroused
Felt the need to retreat from every day life,
Check in with myself to see what caused strife
Emotional up and downs yet silence was profound
Words flowed unstoppable, expression without sound
Found my true love residing deep within
Not voicing those words would be a real sin
Our loving connection is like most romances
We have moments but then draw even closer
Soul mates forever, passion can’t be denied
Weaving words to share what’s deep inside
Blogging an outlet for those who wish to spy
On our raw relationship bared for all without lie
Words ignite emotions and unite!
A Delicate Erasure? by JulesPaige
Stan wasn’t sure what to make of this woman. A Pen-pal who was sketchy at best. He knew she was married. Why did her husband disappear for weeks at a time. Was the gent in the service? Must be hard when there wasn’t any
family around and young children to raise.
While he knew it was a copy – the drawing of her hand, her wedding band clearly displayed, was placed in an envelope for him to open. Had he wanted more?
Then as Stan got involved with local woman. Written exchanges became less frequent. And eventually, correspondence stopped completely.
Woman Reading by Anne Goodwin
Her province’s a palace, a kitchen, a farm,
the White House, a rocket, a sty.
She’s a thousand years old, she’s black, and she’s white,
she’s a phantom long dead or unborn.
She’s shackled and swayed in the bowels of a boat;
she’s blessed with the freedom to roam.
She’s a boxer, a banker, a beggar, a boy;
a cleric, a cleaner, a crow.
Her lip curls or curves, she wrinkles her brow,
she laughs, wipes a tear from her eye.
Her vista refreshed with each turn of the page;
she’s a citizen of everywhere, a reader, she’s me.
Memory Scars by Patrick O’Connor
The call came in after 9pm and interrupted movie night with my daughters.
My doctor called to tell me I had a brain tumor. I’ve never been so shocked in my life.
The emotions associated with that phone call are etched forever in my memory.
There was a flurry of activity that took place to find the right doctor for the surgery. Six months later, I landed in Los Angeles to get the best care I could find around the country.
Four years after that, I created a sketch of my head scar. I titled it “Scarred Not Broken.”
Part II (10-minute read)
A Neighbor by D. Avery
We’ve met before on this lake. She’s a big one. Today she’s lazing just underneath the surface, her mossy plated shell a hub for four bumpy, clawed legs that dangle beneath her, for the spiny leathery tail ruddered behind, for her massive craggy beady-eyed beak-tipped head. She dives then comes back to the surface, sticking her snout out of the water, taking air in through flared nostrils. Seeing me, she swims silently away. I feel she’s ancient, wonder at her long life, but cannot begin to say what she thinks or feels. Out of respect, I don’t even try.
The Sketch Artist by D. Avery
“Okay, let’s begin,” Officer Mills said, sketch pad in hand.
“He had a round face, with brown eyes.”
“No, describe him. Did he harbor a storm in his eyes? Did his past linger at the edges of his unspoken thoughts?”
“Umm, he was tall… about six foot four.”
“Six foot four?! How tall was he? We need a sketch. Was he simply tall like a tree, or did he walk in that head hunched way that tall people do, ducking through doorways, folding into cars?”
“I don’t know! You’re just writing words! Where’s the sketch artist?”
“Right here, literally.”
Heaven Knows by D. Avery
“Didn’t think it’d be like this. I always heard it was more like a movie, you know, your life replayed for you.”
“I was surprised too. A pile of sketches they hand you. Your own sketches.”
“So, you have to go back too?”
“Ha, you bet I do. Any of us with these skinny little sketchbooks have to retrain and go back for another lifetime. Next time, I’m going to make more time for sketching. For etching deeds and memories.”
“Yeah, they say if you get here with good stories to tell you’re all set.”
“Heaven knows, that’s life.”
A Sketch of Rock Creek by Charli MIlls
From the barn, you can see across the draw that is Rock Creek. Wagon ruts remain visible on both sides. David Colbert “Cobb” McCanless built a toll bridge across the deep cut. He arrived at this road station along the Oregon Trail in March of 1859. Family denies that a woman, not his wife came with him, but records show her signature as his bookkeeper. His wife and children arrived from North Carolina in September 1859. The women know what happened when two years later a young Wild Bill Hickok shot Cobb. But no one thought to ask them.
Escape Cave by Paula Moyer
Sixth grade, spring of 1964. Another homework assignment, staring Jean in the face. She couldn’t make herself do it. It would never be good enough for Mrs. O’Neal.
The box of crayons – “64 colors.” The pad of sketch paper, a hobby store gift. Both sang to her, and soon Jean was drawing. The thing almost drew itself.
The cavern appeared in sketch after sketch. An inverted “V” opened to a secret place with pastel walls, alternating blues, and pinks. Oh, secret, soft cave. Safe cave.
If only this place were real, Jean thought. Mrs. O’Neal would never find me.
Eulogy for Aunt Tillie by Nancy Brady
I remember Aunt Tillie affectionately although she preferred my sisters Sally and Connie more. I think she liked me more once I began wearing glasses. Aunt Tillie was a bit silly, even odd. She always wore dresses and slippers. She loved food, especially collard greens, and haddock, but food had to be served on a platter. She loved puppies and kittens, too, but her favorite pet was her guppy, Freddie. She would watch him swimming around all afternoon long. She was an accountant. Bookkeeping was her life, but she was happiest when reading books, her favorite being Atlas Shrugged.
Traveling the Hayfields with Pop by Roger Shipp
Humping down the stairs and around the backyard, Pop, his cane waggling in front being used to scatter the beagle and the three strays more than for maintaining any semblance of balance, was headed toward the chariot… a ‘62 Valiant… and into the hayfields.
I raced beside him knowing there was no waiting.
Opening the door, I swung from the roof into the backseat.
“Wait!” I bellowed. My fingers had not released from the roof before Pop had slammed the door.
Exasperated, Pop opened and shut the door. Hard.
“Next time, get’ya whole self in.”
And off we went.
Sad Regrets by Susan Sleggs
The devastating, but expected call came just before six-o-clock, her father was dead.
The Uber could only get within two blocks of the extravagant condo high rise because downtown streets were blocked for a jazz festival.
She entered the building with feelings in check and said her goodbyes. The music drew her to the balcony where a large sketch book lay on a table. She sat and opened it.
Sketch after sketch of the street below from each year of the festival. She was in each one but had never been there. Regrets swept her; she should have been.
The Sketch by Eric Pone
Ducky stared at the paper and slowly drew out the neighborhood as he remembered it. He included the storefront the gang used for cover. He drew the small storefront church that was next to it. And he included the trees and other details that struck him. He also drew the little girl who had died in his friend’s arms from a drive-by shooting. “They actually targeted a child…”He got up and lit his first cigarette and thought through what he was considering. He looked out at the harbor and considered the thousand who would die with that nuke.
“The Psychologist” by Goldie
“I’m Sergeant Phillips. This is Ivy.” – he announced walking in and led the blind girl to the sofa.
Ivy was a witness to a homicide when she was 5 years old. She hid, while her family got brutally murdered.
“Do you want her to sketch the assailant?”
I looked at him wondering how a blind girl could describe, much less draw a suspect.
As she drew, the sketch became apparent.
I slowly looked up at the sergeant, but his gaze was already fixed on me.
“She lost her sight in an accident a couple of years ago.”
Sketching Uncertainty by David Wesley Woolverton
Isabelle studied her sketch of her newly found mother. It’d felt almost unearthly to finally draw the woman who’d been a mystery for so long. The eyebrows still weren’t quite right, though. There was also too much white space beside her, demanding a sketch of the still-unknown father. She lowered the pencil to sketch how she imagined he looked, but fantasy would look wrong next to reality. She forced herself to start the circle for the face but stopped half way. In the end, she turned the semi-circle into a question mark and put down the pencil.
Raw Draw by JulesPaige
Emma had enjoyed art classes in High School. So taking one in college seemed the right thing to do. It was after all the easels were set up and the charcoal sticks were distributed that the professor called in the model they were to sketch. This was a preliminary exercise that was not going to be graded. Any style would be accepted.
In waltzed Randy. Emma knew him from watching him practice soccer on campus. She, however, was not expecting him to disrobe… while all the students were adults. Young Emma wondered if she was the only one blushing.
Sketches of Love by Kay Kingsley
Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain played in the background as I poured us another glass of Barolo. With a charismatic smile, he turned dinner into an art form.
All the burners were going, the fan on full blast, steam from the pots flushed his cheeks, his stripped apron danced along with him.
As he danced the moment slowed softening its edges along with the lighting and I was aware that this was an ordinary moment I would cherish forever. The next time someone would ask when was it that I knew I loved him, this moment would be it.
Beautiful Portrait by Kerry E.B. Black
Young, beautiful, filled with a blend of self-belief and doubt, your expectations of the world dazzle you, terrify me.
I remember staring into the future at your age. I, too pictured flashing lights and red carpets, a mansion of admirers and contented philanthropy.
I suppose I’m in the future, and the artist did not sketch the lines as I imagined. Frayed edges and smudges mar success, but I see the beauty in the simple design.
From its frayed brushstrokes came you.
A Hospital Sketch by Gordon Le Pard
‘I will bring a sketch’, he said.
The train left Bristol, maximum speed, the genius on board could command anything. But now he would be tested to the limit.
‘A hospital, prefabricated, weatherproof, well ventilated, easily heated’, designed by the time he reached London. By Bath he had the idea, by Swindon he was drawing, in London he rushed to her house, papers in hand.
“Mr Brunel”, Miss Nightingale.”
“Perfect, this is more than a sketch. When can you have them ready? The ship sails in six weeks.”
“They will be ready in five.”
They saved hundreds of lives.
Forensic Sketch by Chelsea Owens
“You say the perpetrator was female?
“And had dark eyes?”
“Yes, and dark hair. No bangs. Not very thick. Or curly.”
“Mmm-hmmm.” *scrrritchh* “Tell me about her face shape. Would you say she had a long face, fat, skinny…?”
“Oh, not fat. Long, pale, serious.”
*shhhushh* *scrrrratch* “How about the eyes? Dark, yes -but were they large?”
“No. She had small eyes. Close together.”
“Mmmm. And, mouth? Nose? Ears?”
“Umm, very small mouth and long, thin nose. Ears -medium?”
*scrrrrtch* *scrrratch* *shhhhsh* “Hm. Ma’am?”
“This looks like you.”
“Yes, well. I am my own worst enemy.”
Who Gets In by Susan Sleggs
“I’ve never laughed so much at a sketch in my life. The make-up on St. Peter made him look 1000 years old.”
“Can you imagine some woman with big boobs actually telling him they were her reason to be invited into heaven because they were God’s gift and he would enjoy seeing them regularly? I wonder if they were real?”
“And a toilet at the gates of heaven. It didn’t even look odd sitting there or for the Queen to flush it.”
“And a royal flush beats a pair, so the Queen was granted admittance. Ya gotta love it.”
Odd Rancher Out by D. Avery
“Why’re ya askin’ me what the ranch looks like, Kid?”
“I wanna sketch the ranch. Ain’tcha been here yer whole life? Who else should I ask?”
“Ya could ask anyone includin’ yerself, Kid. We all see it. How ya see it is how it is.”
“Huh. Reckon we all see it kinda the same. On account of it bein’ so ironic.”
“I think ya mean iconic.”
“Yeah. It’s a hoot though, ain’t it Pal? Folks from aroun’ the world can come here an’ be a buckaroo, git their old west on. Be literary oddests.”
Don’t Take Yer Guns Ta Town by A. Kidd
The scene an old west town, façaded building, lined dusty street, wooden sidewalks, horses tied up outside the saloon where cider flows like whiskey which flows like water. Trouble simmering like the shimmering high noon sun.
An over-eager wannabe steps out of the saloon to face the notorious Nemmy Cyss. Who would draw fastest? Whose aim would be true?
“No! Kid, what are you doin’? Yer not s’posed ta be drawin’ sixguns!”
“Well, Pal, I know it seems sketchy, but Shorty said ta draw an’ so I figgered…”
“No, read agin, Kid, yer ta sketch. With words.”
In Line, Outta Tune by D. Avery
“This ranch is yer ranch, this ranch is my ranch, from the cookhouse griddle, ta the windswept prairie!”
“Jeez Pal, yer outta tune.”
“Wrong again, Kid, I’m in tune, in tune with this here ranch. Don’t it jist produce an’ provide! Yep, Shorty sure works fer us.”
“Works fer us? Ain’t Shorty boss?”
“Hardest workin’ boss a ranch hand could ever work for, Kid.”
“Yer right, Pal.”
“All we have ta do is play with words, an’ we don’t even Have ta do that.
“I shovel shit.”
“An’ yer full of it. Now git ta work an’ go play.”