Prose Fiction

A Refined Palette

X: I’m pretty positive I downloaded a virus.

Y: You downloaded a virus?

X: I mean, yeah, not on download-a-virus.com or anything. I don’t go looking for these things.

Y: What were you looking for?

X: The old version of MS Paint.

Y: Why?

X: The new version’s too flashy.

Y: MS Paint? Flashy?

X: I liked the garishness of the old Paint, the kind on Windows XP. The brush strokes didn’t fade or blend.

Y: Um…

X: So you could just make these bold, solid, ugly lines. And as long as you closed your loops correctly, you could fill your wild shapes completely with any color you wanted.

Y: I’m not sure I…

X: If you wanted more nuance, you could always zoom in and edit the shapes with more detail. I used to make crude Paint edits of my friends’ photos for fun. They always looked cartoony, but I enjoyed using the eyedropper and pencil to blend in smaller patches of colors, pixel by pixel sometimes. The clicking got really tedious, but I found myself attracted to it, this idea that, with enough patience, I could theoretically construct the Mona Lisa. It felt like I was interacting with the smallest possible unit of art.

Y: Why were you on Paint so much?

X: I had a computer in middle school, but no internet.

Y: So you spent all your time on Paint?

X: Yeah. I learned all the tricks. See?

Y: Wait, you’re on it right now?!

X: Don’t you like it?

Y: Huh. It’s actually pretty good. But don’t you have a paper to finish tonight?

X: I’m doing research in another window. Waiting for the page to load.

Y: Dang, that’s some slow internet.

X: I think it’s from the virus.

Y: You downloaded a virus?

X: Yeah.