Father informs me that if I wish to paint my bedroom and satisfy my instinct for decoration, I will have to get down on my hands and knees, brave the poisonous spiders and their webs, then carefully retrieve the glass bottle of turpentine and the dented tins of paint from the dusty, so-called crawl space.
I wanted to color in our house with crayons, Prussian blue and lamp black, but mother managed to convince me this was a very large undertaking, gently suggesting the advantages of a water-resistant paint.
The days were getting longer, and the cuts on my wrists were beginning to form into fine scabs, like thin red ribbons in a prayer missal. You suggested we paint the outside of the house. Painted objects last longer than unpainted ones. We took our time, but eventually we were finished. I was going to run the brushes under the tap, but you snatched them out of my hand and stored them in the freezer, so the next time we paint the house, we will remember the color.
Alistair McCartney is the author of two cross-genre novels The Disintegrations (2017) and The End of The World Book (2008), both published with University of Wisconsin Press. The Disintegrations is the winner of The Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction. TEOTWB was a finalist for the PEN USA Fiction Award and the Publishing Triangle’s Edmund White debut fiction award. Other work has appeared in journals such as 3:AM, Fence, Animal Shelter, 1913, Gertrude and Bloom. Originally from Australia, he live in Los Angeles, where he teaches fiction in Antioch University's MFA program and directs their undergraduate creative writing concentration.