The following flash fiction was written in response to the Van Gogh painting and submitted to the Up The Staircase Quarterly challenge. It didn’t place in the challenge but I thought it good enough to share here.

14 nights, self-catering in the Room at Arles

A holiday company rep snuck Henrik into the painting before the Van Gogh museum opened to visitors. That first day he hid in the darkness behind the door to Gaugin’s room, peeping out through the smallest gap at the patrons filing by.

Stepping out after closing, he took off his shoes and explored the brush stroke texture of the floorboards with his feet, stretching his toes into the dips and trenches left in the floor by the great artist. The room seemed larger inside the painting, its rhomboid dimensions much more apparent when inhabiting the space rather than observing it. The richness of colour began to strain his eyes. He poured cold water from the jug into the basin on the bedside table and splashed his face, drying himself with the towel by the door.

Looking out of the window, he hoped to catch a glimpse of the public gardens of Place Lamartine but there was nothing beyond but the mustard yellow of the panes stretching out into infinity. Taking his hands from the window he left behind white prints, bright against the deep green of the frame. Looking at himself in the mirror he saw the streaks of creamy paint running down his face. The towel on the nail beside the door hung smudged and grey, looking less like a towel than it had when he arrived.

Damn, he thought, there goes my security deposit.