Cubista

Cubista
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In this second runner-up from our Cults & Clubs flash fiction competition, the art of Picasso makes visible a hidden secret about ourselves.
Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, 1910, Picasso
Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, 1910, Picasso

We have both eyes on one side of our faces, and misshapen mouths, and noses out of joint. We live in shadows. We eat your garbage. God made us so you can know, in the part of your brain that is intuition and instinct, that the truth of you is out there, hiding in trees, staring. The man Picasso was not afraid of us. In the darkness, in alleys between buildings, in caves far from cities, he found us and took our shame upon himself. He met us in our shadow places. He met us in our hovels. He pushed our hands from our faces, touching us, lingering over dimples and curves. The man Picasso understood why God put us in the world. He drew us as we are. He drew us, never flinching. He named us Cubista. He showed us that we are beautiful. He showed us that we are a sad song to celebrate. He showed us that we have dignity. With his brush he showed us that we are divine. He wept with us all. Is it any surprise that you call this man a genius, a seer, a sage? Is it any surprise that you crown him a prophet and a king? Now we are everywhere. Our faces are in your museums, your airports, your dining rooms. You watch television under our gazes. You would scream if we arrived at your door, but you hang our image where you eat your dinner and where you make love. You cherish our image, despairing, doubtful, suffering. Now we are everywhere. To show you what you are, without the mask. The chaos of being is what you are. Faces twisted and contorted is what you are. All the times you have been walking home, and thought you saw something in the trees, in the bushes, in the rain, we were there. All the times your dog barked at nothing in the night, teeth bared, fearful, ears peeled back, staring into the dark, we were there. We were ashamed. But shame is over. The next time you see eyes and skin that cannot possibly be true, looking out from alleys and gutters and trash, stop, come forward. Reach out to touch us. We are ready to step into the light. We are ready to show you what you have always known but never seen. Your inner image. Your denied selves. Your complete shadows, brought into light. Look at us. Look.

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, our August Book Club pick
Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, our August Book Club pick

We pick the most exciting new titles out there for the Litro Book Club, and you’ll get them sent to you before they hit the shops. You’ll get access to live author Q&As, and the chance to see your reviews published on the site. It’s a great way of meeting like-minded book-lovers too. Join the Club

Michael Shilling

About Michael Shilling

Michael Shilling is the author of Rock Bottom, published by Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company. In 2011, the book was adapted to the stage as a musical by the Landless Theater Company in Washington DC, and is being developed for a second adaptation for 2014. His short stories have appeared in The Sun, Fugue, and Other Voices. He lives in Seattle, where he teaches and works on a variety of narrative pursuits.

Michael Shilling is the author of Rock Bottom, published by Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company. In 2011, the book was adapted to the stage as a musical by the Landless Theater Company in Washington DC, and is being developed for a second adaptation for 2014. His short stories have appeared in The Sun, Fugue, and Other Voices. He lives in Seattle, where he teaches and works on a variety of narrative pursuits.

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