Easier Softer Ways

By James Mattise

The furniture put back and the pictures rehung I notice my father has left an unpainted corner. He had gone through the trouble of removing the couches and tables and bringing down the pictures, filling their nail holes and sanding them flush. Where once the walls were yellow and recalled a past time now they hung sheathed in a light gray whose tint shifted throughout the day. But along the far corner behind the chair where he reads himself to sleep the unpainted corner begs attention. “No one will see it,” he tells me as I stare into the corner. He has gone through so much, tried in ways to change, always letting his old ways overtake him; past habits that sit right on the tongue.

The unpainted corner causes me to wonder how thick he laid on the single coat to cover what lies beneath. The way the roller marks fade and undulate into the corner creates a friction between the gray and yellow. From one direction the yellow corner appears to fight back, vibrating its way to the surface to overcome the new gray coat. I ask my father why he didn’t get more paint and finish the job properly. He looks at me again, “No one is going to see it behind the chair.” I am puzzled to see how he has changed, the steps he has taken, the others he now ignores. We stare into the corner together and he further justifies, “This was just easier and if I want to I’ll address it later.”

Through the front door comes my aunt, his sister, who gasps with joy at what my father has done to his home. “Oh brother,” she dotes, “this is so much softer on the eyes.” She says nothing about the yellow corner sticking out, seemingly growing larger behind the chair. My father side-eyes me satisfied with his accomplishment and I swallow my words to not ruin his fleeting moment.

James Mattise is a multidisciplinary artist living in Central Virginia. He studied Filmmaking and English Literature at Virginia Commonwealth University where he graduated in 2013.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Digital pastel and ink)

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