Circle (Story by Risa Peris)

Why must she always do that? Paint on fabric. Paint on the walls. She even painted on the cat’s collar. Always circles. Round and round. I walked into our house and everything spun.

“Honey, honey. I painted the bathroom walls.” She led me to the bathroom and there were circles, red ones, all across the bare walls and even the ceiling. She was dressed in overalls and there was paint smeared on her face, neck, and arms. “Don’t you just love it?”

I didn’t. But what did I know? I worked in a factory boxing dish sets. She stayed home and painted. Sometimes she would go to the church and help them cook for the poor. Occasionally, she would work in a candle shop and that’s where she got the money for the paint.

“Oh, Luis. I love to paint.” She kissed me on the cheek. My dirty cheek spotted by the dust of the factory.

“Have you tried a canvas?” I asked.

“The world is a canvas,” said Acella. “Why must paint be contained to a canvas.”

She had a point. On my walk to work, I passed murals on brick walls. There was one I especially liked on Turner Street. On the left side of an office building was this abstract painting that beguiled me. I don’t know why, but it was as intriguing. Lines, circles, squares. All neon. All balanced.

Work was dull but I thought of the murals and wondered what surface my wife had adorned with circles while I was boxing plates and saucers.

After work, I usually had a beer at Nilo’s. He had pictures of Jazz greats hanging all around the bar. I explained to Nilo my wife’s obsession with painting circles in our house.

“It’s good to have a passion. It’s good to have art. What’s your passion?”

I shrugged. “Looking at murals. Looking at the circles in my home. Actually…maybe not that.”

“Anything else?”

“I used to want to be a writer.”

“Well,” Nilo said in his deep, raspy voice. “Then write. You think these jazz musicians sat around thinking about jazz. Hell no. They just did it. If you’re an artist, you just do it.”

I finished my beer and walked out into the cool night. When I got home, I noticed some smaller circles on the ceiling. Cerulean blue. I went to our desk and pulled a sheet of paper out of the top drawer and a pen.

I wrote: Surrounded by circles. My mind’s a circle. My life is a circle. Each day. I kiss my wife. Eat frosted flakes. Walk to work. Look at art. Work. Get a beer encircled by jazz. Walk home and enter. And there is always more art. More circles. My life is a circle. It’s a good life. I can’t complain. And now I’m a writer. If you just do it then you are. Yes. Life is a circle. Life is art. But you must look and not get angry.

“What are you doing baby?” My wife was smeared with paint again.

“Becoming a writer.”

She clapped her hands. “Now I can paint your words everywhere.” She giggled.

I don’t know why, but I smiled and laughed. Not a bad life. Not a bad life at all.


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