Painted Walls

by Will Walton

She dipped the roller in the pan then smeared streaks of pink across the blue wall. Drops of paint ran down like tears. It made her think back to the tadpoles skimming blindly across the top of the water in the stream behind her childhood home. She smoothed down the runs and dipped the roller again. She heard the old hardwood floor creaking, footsteps passing by in the hall—one door being opened and shut and then another.


In here, she hollered.

He opened the bedroom door. She was standing with her back to him, facing the painted wall, holding the roller with her left, her right, contouring her stomach.

Why did you do this?! he asked. We talked about this! We agreed to wait this time!

She turned her head slightly and rested her chin on her shoulder, said nothing. He waited for a moment, then walked out of the empty room and back down the hall. She put on one more row.

After unscrewing the roller from its extension, she dropped it in a bucket of water to soak. She poured the leftover paint from the pan back into the can and beat the lid down tight with the
butt-end of a flathead, then wedged the tip of her middle finger between the label and the handle and watched it rise and fall into the fold of her fingers as she stood up. The drop cloth, she left spread out on the floor, and then walked over to the closet.

She slid the door open, took a breath. Sitting in the back corner, up under a hanging row of tagged clothing, was another can of paint—dried runs of baby blue down its side. She sat the pink on top and let the handle fall to the side.

She was sliding the door closed, and then she stopped.  Put her hands to her stomach. Smiled. It was the second time in a long time—the first came earlier that day, just before she bought the paint.