Il Bambino by Sean Cunningham

[1st Prize]

As a very young child, before I could even speak, I would recreate masterpieces on my mother's living room walls, in crayon.

The first – my breakout piece, if you will – was Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, which was hailed as a triumph in my expected progression, according to the baby books.

The second was a only partial recreation – due to the obvious spatial restrictions of living in a terraced, suburban home – of the lower register of the Ghent Altarpiece; this drew the attention of the local papers and I was dubbed 'Il Bambino' for no logical reason.

My third was A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, my favourite of the bunch. By this time, I was national news, turning international, and there was no end to the reporters and photographers barging in to our home.

Next came a series of Pollocks; precise and painstaking reproductions of his most famous works. At this time, an eminent modern art expert accused me of theft, thinking it was the actual piece; this was disproved, of course – I was not yet eighteen months old – and his 'expertise' was thereon discredited. It was upon completion of these that I said my first word, provenance.

I began churning out Venetian classics; Titian, Tintoretto, Bellini, Bellini, Bellini – but I could sense that the magic was fading. As my vocabulary grew, the feel of crayon between my fingers lost its familiarity, like I was losing a part of myself. I tried to stop speaking for a while, to stop speech from eating away at the talent in my fingertips, but the words were still swirling in my mind even when my mouth refused to form them.

The public and critics alike began clamouring for a Da Vinci, or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but I was no longer sure that I could do it. I could say words like reminiscent and defenestration, but I no longer had the touch to capture proportions in an instant, no longer the ability to instil real feeling in to a piece. I could no longer mix the correct greens.

***

Sean Cunningham is a writer from Liverpool. His flash fiction has appeared, or is forthcoming, in other publications such as Fugue, formercactus, Indiana Review Online, Moonchild Magazine, and elsewhere. He can be found on Twitter @sssseanjc.

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