Lines of Paint in My Mind

By Nicholas Voyta Sailer

Written on July 30, 2014

For A Story Each Day

The streets of Raleigh are marked and lined with construction spray paint—the kind that workers use to denote where electrical wires are buried. Where to dig and where not to dig. Where it’s okay to drill and where it’s not okay to drill, where the water lines run and where there’s nothing but plain old dirt. Raleigh is growing and expanding by the minute, and by the time one building is finished, they start tearing up the lot right next to it and start something new.

But for every line of construction spray paint that’s put down, it’s inevitable that they’d miss one, isn’t it? Of course it is. Somehow the line that was supposed to denote where the main water pipe is on our street never got marked. I woke up one morning, turned on the faucet to brush my teeth, and no water came out.

I stepped outside to see a flood of water pouring down our street, turning the road into a shallow river. I looked upstream to see a crew of construction workers staring down into a hole in the ground. One held a jackhammer, one held a shovel and one held a sandwich. I wandered up to them, still clothed only in gym shorts and an old X-Men T-shirt.

“Any idea when the water’s coming back on?” I asked, trying to sound respectful.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” the one with the sandwich muttered between bites.

“We’re tryin’ to get this thing fixed as fast as we can, but it could take all day.”

“What happened?”

“Idiot didn’t mark it. Marked all the other spots but missed this one, so we thought it was clear. Idiot.”

I frowned, looking at the steady spring of water shooting out of the ground. I turned around and went back inside, trying to pretend like I hadn’t missed several vital parts of my morning routine.

While I should’ve been in the shower, or brushing my teeth, or at least on my second cup of coffee, I imagined all of the places where there are missing construction markers, painted onto the ground. The street in front of my house isn’t the only place that doesn’t have markings telling workers where they should be going and where they shouldn’t be going. I’m pretty sure that if there is a God, he had forgotten a couple of spray-painted lines in my life.

No doubt someone as productive as God would be building and growing things all the time, wouldn’t he? He has the entire world to look after, and millions of people asking him for things every single day. It only makes sense that he’d have someone else mark the pavement in the minds of the people he’s working on. And with all of those people, it only makes sense that somewhere there’d be a line that somebody missed.

So when God finally gets to me, he starts building full force, knocking down old ruins and drilling down into the dirt of my mind to secure the foundations of whatever the hell he’s building. The street in front of my house isn’t the only place that’s missing some guiding lines of paint, and so for all of God’s good intentions, he hits the main water line and turns the street in my mind into a river.

My thoughts wash through the street, flooding the sidewalks and rushing over those memories that won’t budge. Secrets I’d buried years ago become unearthed, and those hidden grudges I thought were safe and secure wash to the surface. That time I lied to my dad bubbles right to the top, along with that relationship with that girl I haven’t talked to in years but have wondered about every day since. My mother drifts past, followed by all of the times I ignored her when all she wanted to do was get to know her son. They wash by, and I’m left standing in a soggy front yard, surrounded by fragments of trash and litter I had thought were long gone by now.

I stare at the river rushing through the front lawn of my mind, just wishing I could brush my fucking teeth. I begin to wonder whether or not this was part of God’s plan all along, or whether somebody just forgot to tell him where the water line was.

A Story Each Day is a collection of 365 short stories, written daily by Nicholas Voyta Sailer throughout each day of 2014. The collection was published in 2015 and has gathered more than 7,600 subscribers on Medium.com. The full collection of stories and a special collection of 50 selected stories are available for purchase at www.astoryeachday.com.

Nicholas Voyta Sailer is a writer and film director whose work has been screened at the Cannes Film Festival and Universal Studios. Sailer got his start when he won Best Picture and Best Director at CMF, the largest student film festival in the world. After studying screenwriting in Prague, Czech Republic, and working in Brooklyn, New York, he moved to Boylan Heights in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he runs Praxis, a story, design and strategy agency. See more of his work at www.nicholasvoytasailer.com or follow him on Twitter at @nicholas_sailer.

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