A Painting in the Sea by Katie Lu

A trail of shimmering silver follows the waning moon in its wake. The sea mascerates in the pale light. Sways ever so slightly in the gentle gulf of the night. Minnie Marsh makes her way through the cabin. The bridge of her foot to her toes are like prison bars to the concrete. She floats through the halls. Her husband remains on the bed. He is proud. Proud of himself for caring for his doting wife so well.

Minnie Marsh hates her things. The antique tables with carvings of stark naked babies that dust likes to stick to. The pink roses and that single daffodil that droop and sulk and cry withering petals all over the floor. Shriveled and grey. Her husband buys her many things. Like exquisite paintings of smiling women in dresses. But the painter doesn’t paint the strain in her face or the bruises that sink into her skin under the corset. Her husband gives her ribbons of lavender and ivory to tie in her hair. Ribbons that strangle and rip at her black locks. She only likes to watch the ribbons unravel from her hair. To see a silver hue that hangs onto the black ink that cascades down her back.

Minnie Marsh has many things. Her things are like paintings. Paintings of tables and wilting flowers and women and ivory ribbons. They sit on her floor.

Flat and still.

Joy. She believes joy is not a painting. Joy is an explosion of yellow that’s been dipped in the Tuscan sun. Joy is the dancing of sunbeams and blooming flowers stitched into the dirt. Not torn from the soil at its seams and tossed into ceramic.

In her scattered thoughts, Minnie Marsh has wandered to the cliffside. Her toes dig into the rocks. Wind sails through her. And her white dress flows to touch the moon.

She will sit among the paintings no longer.

She will be her husband’s painting no further.

She flies to the moon. Her arms reach out to touch the sliver of shimmering silver before she seeps into the sea.


Katie Lu is a 14-year-old student living in the suburbs outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She adores writing flash fiction and short stories.

Image: Matthew Henry