Starr was not in a happy mood as she walked out of the house in the early hours. Amidst grumbling to herself she noticed the small feather in the grass along the sidewalk. She bent to pick it up and a small smile creased her fine features as she remembered her grandmother. She looked up to the sky as if searching for her in heaven, then blew the feather out of her palm like a lost eyelash. Starr wished it was her grandmother visiting instead of her parents.
She had invited them down for the holiday weekend since she couldn't afford to be away from her work to make the trip to them. Like any adult child to picky parents, she wanted to show them that she was doing well. Her visual arts degree hadn't been a waste of their money, as they had always feared. She was living independently in a small house on the edge of the city, with a small yard and a small grill on the small deck out back, perfect for summer grilling.
Her dad appreciated that they could have a traditional cook-out, and promptly took over the cooking of the meat. Then after dinner last night her parents grilled her as she expected, but then they devolved into sniping at each other.
Annoyed at the thought, Starr's feet led her toward the city center. She turned onto a more major thoroughfare where she would be soothed by the sounds of the traffic. Soon Starr was humming "Downtown", an oldie she'd heard on her parents' radio as a kid. "Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city," she sang along to the tune in her head and smiled.
Her mind took her back to childhood breakfasts with the radio on and her mom singing along, Starr joining in on bits as she learned from repetition.
Her mom singing.
Her mom and dad fighting.
No. Don't think of them fighting.
Starr had been satisfied with dinner last night - a calm way to show evidence of her maturity. Then as they were talking in the living room the fighting started. She couldn't remember what started it, but neither one of her parents would give an inch. Starr finally excused herself to go clean up the kitchen.
No! Not worth dwelling on it. She was getting annoyed again.
A light, sunshine-y drizzle started as Starr turned another corner. A bakery was a few buildings down the street and Starr felt led in that direction. A few minutes later, she was standing in their doorway looking out at the rain, an artisanal hearty oat loaf in a bag in one hand, and a small cinnamon bun wrapped in a napkin in the other. She nibbled the treat as she watched light streaming through the droplets of water coming down. Or were they suspended in air?
Stepping out, Starr was refreshed by a light mist that soon gave way as she continued down the block. She liked the skyline of her small city, and looked up at it. A rainbow was growing out of the roofs of the highrises and Starr sighed in happiness at another memory of rainbow-watching with her grandma. She turned her feet toward home, finishing her cinnamon bun as she walked. It was time to try to find some inspiration and get something down on a canvas, parents fighting or not.
At home, she sliced off a hunk of the fresh bread for herself in the still quiet house. She knew she needed to paint, but what? An idea began to form and her head angled as she went into her mind to try to trace the thought, untasted bread suspended in one hand in front of her.
In a movement, she grabbed some cheese from the fridge, and hurried up to her attic studio with the bread and cheese on a plate. As she stood in front of the canvas, she heard her mom calling out, "Starr? Where are you?" She didn't answer, but prepped her palette with suitable shades.
"Starr?" The voice was rising toward the attic stairs. "Starr?" Then Dad's voice joined in. "What's happening? Where is she?"
"I don't know. What's this door?" And then they were in. "Oh, hi honey! We're -"
Starr spun around. "I just need some Uninterrupted quiet. That's all. Please."
"There's food for breakfast. Make yourselves at home. I'll be down when I'm done." She pushed them out the door as they peered around her doubtfully at the blank canvas.
In peace again, Starr began sweeping, swooshing, and slashing paint onto the canvas, taking intermittent bites of bread and cheese as she stood back to consider her work at different stages.
Hours later, she stood back to look at a cityscape painting with a fading rainbow above it, glad that her walk had provided her some inspiration. The rain slashed down through the painting like the angry strokes of a madman but she decided she liked the contrast of the peaceful and the chaotic. She had an idea where that angry energy might have come from.
Starr sighed. Time to go down and talk with her parents. Hopefully they'd keep the peace.
Thanks for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! All month I'll be writing flash fiction, with the theme "Audience Participation".
Now it's your turn, lovely audience member. Do you have a writing prompt to suggest? Don't worry about choosing a letter of the alphabet, just leave me a word, a thought, a place, a concept... anything! and I'll add it to the list.
"Uninterrupted Quiet" came from a prompt about artist inspiration provided by Holly Jahangiri of A More Positive Perspective, in a comment left on my C post, here. To be honest, this is not the story I thought I was starting about "uninterrupted quiet"! Funny how that happens.