Neither/Nor by Cristina Vega
He begins to set up his workstation. He brushes his bed with his hands to remove the plaster that sometimes flakes off the ceiling as though it’s shedding. Some of it clings to his hair, eliciting a smile from him as he jerks his hand in his locks and watches the flakes shower on the floor. He spreads a newspaper like a sheet on one side of the bed. A paper cup filled with water serves as his cleaner. His tools are unpacked from a stained pencil case. They’re crude and worn: a chisel with newspaper for the handle and a rust-bitten razor as its edge, held by thread he plucked from his underwear, and brushes made new with a fresh supply of his hair. His paints are made of soap shavings he scrapes with his chisel, and food coloring. He binds the colors with grease he cajoles from the kitchen workers, and smears the crude paints on aluminum foil that he washes in the sink after each session.