Canvas 16: Painting In Public

There’s blue paint swirling in my black coffee

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There was nobody around when I first got there. Literally. The coffee shop was closed and I had to wait for the barista to arrive. She was ten minutes late. She said it was because her cat was hacking up a hairball and it was the first time it’d happened. It made her really nervous. I told her I know the feeling and it’s the reason I switched to just using a comb. She didn’t laugh.

She asked why I was carrying a canvas and a silver suitcase. I told her I needed to try something, but that it’d be out of the way and super creative. She shrugged, unlocked the door, and stepped behind the counter.

I set up on one of the community tables in the center. They keep newspapers by the door, usually a few days old, so I grabbed one and laid the paper out in case of spillage.

“What’ll you have?” she asked.

“The usual,” I replied.

“What’s your usual?”

“Medium black.”

With the medium black at the far edge of the table I placed the empty canvas in the middle.

“Looks like you’re going to be making quite the mess,” she said.

“I’ll clean up whatever happens,” I replied. “Blue. This needs some blue.”

As the canvas turned from white to blue people started to funnel in. Some took interest and stood around for a moment or two, others walked by without so much as a glance. I know because I watched everyone as they walked in, easy procrastination is a dangerous temptation.

“There’s blue paint swirling in my black coffee, and I kind of like it. Not the taste, I mean, the way it looks. This feels like where the piece should go. The final destination.”

“You’re going to pour coffee onto your painting?” asked the barista.

“That’d be a waste of precious lifeforce,” I replied. “I’ll mimic the color with another paint.”

An intrigued audience formed as the paints began to swirl together.

“There’s one thing I forgot to mention,” I said, looking over to the barista.

“And what’s that?”

“I’m going to have to leave this here to dry.”

Fiction writer. Coffee enthusiast. Writer of romance, mystery, and humor. Discover more at and

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