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Mel Piper

We arrive in grey and white and keep ourselves unseen. Our boots trudge through Trafalgar, willing for the sun to break from its duvet of dark clouds.

It doesn't.

It hasn’t for years.

We shouldn’t be here. The ten of us speak to the security guard, telling them: “We missed Dali.” She ushers us through and locks the door behind us.

We are the last here. I strip hurriedly, throw down my clothes. I remove everything grey until there is nothing but my flesh. It is silent. No one speaks.

I unfasten my hair and stand next to the red.

There is a moment's pause. Then everyone turns.

Noise erupts and everything happens at once. Laughter, shrieks, shouts as the artists descend. I pick up the brush and paint my torso crimson. Someone else paints my left leg yellow. I paint across his neck in turquoise.

Under the paintings of the exhibition, we attempt to recreate them. We mould ourselves into their positions, becoming the splodges and arcs ourselves. I bend forward to create a curve and someone pours blue down my neck, over my hair. It merges with the red across my chest but stays distinct. I join hands with someone else and our shapes become larger, more intricate. Excess paint falls to the floor. Someone lies down under me and catches the drips, creating a paint angel across the floor, their flesh desperately trying to absorb the paint.

The sound crescendos — deafening.

We never attack the art, and we are careful to only cover each other. The art is precious — it is what we want to protect. Looking at my body, I feel alive. I rub the paint into my skin and want to stay like this, dripping in paint and filled with technicolour.

It ends as quickly as it begins, and always sooner than we would like. The paint runs out and there is nothing left. We each take our black towels and rub the colour away. We dress, the colours once again suppressed by the grey. I bunch my hair inside my hat. Someone checks all of our faces before we leave.

Walking home, I pull my coat close. I feel a drip of blue seep down my neck and under my shirt. I should be scared. But I smile.

Mel Piper is a writer based in Coventry. Mel’s work focuses on bringing the weird into the everyday. She is soon to be published in Amphibian Journal and an upcoming Thi Wurd anthology and has previously been shortlisted by Sleek City Press. She has run workshops for adults and children. Outside of writing, Mel is also a keen photographer, her work featured in multiple publications, such as Nightingale and Sparrow and Swim Press.

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