art by Ron Sanders
by M.K. Hutchins
Prints made Monet's work look flat. Inside the museum, the thick paint shimmered with roundness and ripples.
Inside the painting, I was drowning.
I floundered, spluttering, but I couldn't find the picture frame, let alone the dry museum floor. A single-span bridge of greenish wood arched across the water ahead. I kicked, sending waves through once-still water reflecting clouds. I dragged myself onto the bridge and lay, panting, my wet hair sticking to my back, the rough wood digging into my cheek.
I shouldn't be here. I should be inside the St. Louis Art Museum, still deciding between five more minutes staring at the Monet or filling my growling stomach with some hot fries.
"Are you happy to see the work up close?" a voice asked.
I frowned at the frog hopping towards me. I didn't remember any frogs--talking or otherwise--in Monet's depiction of this bridge. And I'd studied all of Monet's water lily paintings. Spent a hundred bucks for an eight-hour Greyhound ride to come see one, in person, before I started my senior year of high school. Before I had to decide to apply to art school or the local college for something practical. Like marketing.
"It's good you had a connection with this painting, or I couldn't have pulled you in," the frog said.
I sat, trying not to shiver as a breeze picked up. "I'd prefer being put back into the museum, please."
If anything could grant me an epiphany about what to do for college, it would be wandering that palace of art. Once I was safe from talking frogs. And dry. And perhaps full of fries.
"I can't do that."