I think I wrote this the night before a chemistry exam I like bombed. I wasn't worried about not studying because in that class the amount of work I put into preparing for a test had absolutely ZERO correlation to the grade I got.
Non-chem related Story:
The man paused before the glossy steel and glass doors. He squinted at them, fumbled for his glasses in the pocket of his shirt, and wiped the film on each lens carefully away. Around him, stoplights and storefronts glowed with unnatural color against the darkening and empty streets and sky. A few soldiers melted out from the navy shadows and shifted past in wilted green uniforms.
He mopped damply at his brow. It was twilight but the city air lay thick and heavy, the last tired breath expelled from the blaze and pavement of a passing day. He pushed at the doors. They gave way so smoothly that he nearly felt propelled into the airily chill room. A white and silver easel propped at the entrance displayed opening and closing times, while above them, the letters “MANN GALLERY OF ART: SPECIAL EXHIBIT”. On his left a curved marble desk extended from the wall to form a pale blockade around a thin and stiffly sitting woman with precisely folded hands and a sheath dress. He looked at her curiously.
“You may place your bag by the rail if you wish to come in”
She motioned toward the area vaguely. The man shifted on his feet, nodded, and pulled the worn strap of a bag from his shoulder down to where she had indicated. There were no other bags.
“Hours are until 8, sir, the gallery is down the hallway and to your left”.
“Alright, I’m surprised you’re open at all, thanks then”.
He turned and walked carefully down the hall. It was an illusion, the way that the space inside the building felt so much larger than it had seemed from the outside. Even the air around him seemed to expand effortlessly against the tall white walls and arched ceiling. The chandeliers above splintered their light and cast their reflections into the liquid polish of the floor below. The man felt like a dusty smudge exhaled from the streets into the sterilely sacred atmosphere of the building. He rounded the corner quickly and nearly knocked into an elderly gentleman.
“Oh I’m so sorry! I…”
He stuttered his smiling apology but the gentleman interjected—
“No harm done, don’t worry lad, no harm done, it is easy to think you’re alone in here, and usually one is, now”
The man must have been somewhere in his 60’s but he was thin and his eyes peered brightly through horn rimmed glasses with a wry camaraderie that made one feel a part of some very witty inside joke. He wasn’t tall but he held himself confidently and elastically within an impeccably tailored tweed suit. At this moment he smiled and drew himself up, resting one hand lightly on a wooden cane whose head was carved into that of a duck.
“But say, what do you think of this piece of art?”
He swung an arm round to indicate a massive canvas on the wall.
“I’ve been admiring it for quite a while now and I’m good friends with the artist, which makes me partial. But I’d really love to have a second opinion”.
The canvas was white and stretched across with what first appeared to be a sprawling black web.
The man leaned closer and realized that what he had taken for fine lines were actually long strings of miniscule letters and number, intricately laced together. He squinted at one particular strand that read, “…0200moved1-3mNE2-4SWcontinued10-13mNE…”
“Well, I’m no art expert, but it’s interesting. What is it? Does it mean something?”
The older man’s lips curled back into a smile against porcelain teeth.
“A good question, because it most certainly does mean something. Rather, everything. This, my friend, is the portrait of a man”.
He paused for effect.
“It doesn’t look like much, I know, but this is truth. This is beauty. Stripped to the bone of everything unnecessary. The marriage of science and art, this is how we know…” He laughed. “Oh dear I must be confusing you. And you must think I’m crazy. Do you think I’m crazy?”
The younger man laughed nervously in return.
“I don’t know. But this doesn’t look like a portrait to me. It’s a tangle of lines and letters and everything else. I like this other one better”.
He pointed to another canvas on the wall, beside the first. It was painted in bright colors and showed a man standing in full sunlight, pointing directly to something outside the frame. The older man chuckled slightly.
“aha, yes, but did you know that both of these paintings are of the same man? Very different representations of course, but I believe that both of them are portraits”
All I know so far is that one of them DIES at the end due to the gallery being bombed.
The End for now!