You have grown experienced in the art of laying on a thick dust of facetiousness across the canvas you have inherited. Deft strokes conceal cracks and blurs, simplifying the caustic figures looming over you into a funny anecdote you will joke about during the twenty minutes allotted for lunch with a pressed on smile crimped at your eyes. (You will gesture with feverish energy as you retell the worst night of your life to a table doubling over themselves in laughter, ignoring the phantom pills lodged in your throat.)
You have found that indignation is a vibrant color that draws the eye and envelopes nuances of fear and pain with ease. It is close enough in hue to prevent a careful observer from picking through it, and airy enough to be chalked up to one of your eccentricities. (Alongside it in your palate is absurdity- the image can never be anything other than impressionism if you are to lie to yourself in such a manner.)
An exaggerated impersonation here, a falsetto there- the portrait painted has all your features, but in those moments of brittle quiet with no audience to enrapture you are a stranger to it.
This is not to say no one has suspected- your friends cut sideways looks at each other, chuckling despite themselves and later reaching for your shoulder with barely hidden trepidation to ask if everything is okay. Inevitably, you will counter with a smile- gentler than before, a pastel hue, but no less abstracted and not quite real- and assure them that yes, you are fine. Privately, as they nod with relief, you think you are doing a service. The raw grief and consternation that thrum underneath your skin have all the potency of glass cleaner and the fumes would destroy the masterpiece that you uphold as your life.
i wrote this a little while ago and liked how it turned out