FFftPP: Parisian Street Scene: Montmartre




Dawn breaks through the attic window, past the webs and bluebottles. Too little light to paint by just yet. He’s worked by candlelight before ‒ through a night, a day, another night ‒ falling to his bed when he’s too tired to feel the bugs nip.

There’s no money for candles now. On the table is a crust of desiccated bread, a parched scrap of cheese ‒ unless the rats have feasted as he slept. He’s exchanged a canvas for brushes before – for a good coat when the snow was crusted and brittle. He doesn’t care about francs as long as he has pigment enough to paint the world as he sees it; ochre in the eye of the lavender seller at Montmartre: vermillion in her bloated nose: emerald and ultramarine in a pigeon’s wing as it flaps in a mongrel’s jaws.

Daylight shines Prussian blue on the walls, burnt sienna on the bills marked ‘to the occupant’: he’s learnt never to give his real name when money’s scarce.

Sunlight cuts through the dingy glass – he sees a rainbow.


‘… Parisian Street Scene: Montmartre, going once – twice – sold to the gentleman on the telephone for £32million.’


Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practioner for Roger Shipp’s It’s All In Finding The Right Words.

This was a toughy – totally flummoxed me to begin with. Then I looked at the billboard more closely, at the brightly painted Parisian scene, and the shadow of the Eiffel Tower looming behind.


16 thoughts on “FFftPP: Parisian Street Scene: Montmartre

    1. Thank you so much! Poor old van Gogh has been on my mind, how poverty stricken he was in life, how people have made vast fortunes from his work since he died. When I saw the Eiffel Tower in the background, that was enough to spark a story. Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joy! I was trying to tap into how a painter sees the world, how someone like van Gogh always saw beauty and potential even in the worst circumstances. Thank you so much for reading 🙂


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