Tension
rating: +6+x

"Why do you create art?"

The man sitting across the table blinked his eyes, nervously adjusting his fedora. He nervously sipped his coffee, sugar-filled and stuffed with cream, and nervously patted down his trench coat. He looked at the woman who had asked him that question as if she had grown three more heads.

"Excuse me?" he asked, nervously.

"You heard me. Why do you create art?"

The man let out a laugh. It wasn't really a laugh though, more as it was an exhalation of incredulity disguised as humor.

"Why do I create art? Why is the sky blue? What kind of question is that, right?"

The woman frowned at him, putting down her dark coffee, sugarless.

"It's a very serious question, one that I will ask again. Why do you crea—"

"Okay, okay, I get it, Jesus. You don't have to say it three times."

The man pushed his glasses up on his nose, and if you had been there you would have sworn a beam of light had caught it at just the right angle to light up both lens and make him look cool for a second. But, that didn't really happen, and it just looked kind of awkward.

"I create art because I want people to see it."

"No, that's wrong. Try again."

The man lifted an eyebrow. "What do you mean, 'that's wrong?'"

"Try again." repeated the woman, with an oppressive air of firmness.

The man swallowed his pride and tried again.

"I create art because it's fun, and it's a nice byproduct that other people can enjoy it."

"No. Try again."

The man was visibly sweating now. The tension in this humble cafe was rising by the second. He felt as though he should really take his trench coat off, but then he'd just look even more awkward than he already did. He sat there and contemplated for a moment, before shaking his head and sighing in exasperation.

"I create art because I fucking can, okay? Is that what you want? Did you want me to adm—"

"No. That's wrong. Try again."

He was completely taken aback at this. He thought this was an interrogation or something, that his new associate was trying to get him to admit the "truth" of his little organization. He had always thought himself that nobody around here really knew why they were making their art, and he never found it necessary to beg the question "Am I Cool Yet?" because he thought he knew he never would be.

So why now was she still pushing him further? What more could she possibly want out of him? An exposition? His life story? A breakdown of the causation of every single action he had ever taken in his life? He didn't trust this woman enough to tell her all of that!

"Hello? I told you that's wrong. Try again, please?"

The man spoke after several minutes of internal debate.

"What is it exactly you want from me?"

The woman seemed amused by this question.

"Nothing major. I just want to know what I'm getting into before I decide to join your little group."

Ah, right. He'd almost forgotten he was supposed to be the interviewer here, not her. She was just a nobody, joining their group. So why did he feel so oppressed by her? This frail little woman holds no power over me, he thought. He puffed himself up and tried to make himself look like the big macho man he always wanted to be, but he forgot to breathe in the process and started coughing instead.

He looked up at the woman, who was merely looking back down at him. Her expression was completely unreadable, and that terrified him.

"You want to know what you're getting into?"

"Yes. I want to know why your group creates art, and I don't want an excuse like 'because you can.' You're all unique people with your own goals, so I want to know yours. Why do you create art?"

The man sighed, a deep and heavy sigh, as recognition finally dawned on him. She didn't want to know why his group made art. She didn't want to know why he thought he made art. No, she wanted to know why he really made art. It was a stupid reason, a selfish reason, and he didn't want to spill it, but by this point, he just wanted to get out of there more than anything and rationalized that this would be the best way to do so.

"I create art because I'm insecure and I want to project my insecurities onto others. I want everyone else to feel just as insecure as me. I know, it's a selfish reason, and you can laugh if you like."

He waited tensely.

But no mockery came.

"That's great to hear. I'm glad you've finally come to terms with yourself. Now then, do you want to hear why I create art?"

The man took a few moments to process what she had just said, filled with anger for a brief moment. But then, he decided to drop it and take the easier path of continuing this conversation.

"Why do you create art?" the man said, smirking at the sudden swap of positions.

"I create art because I want to give other people meaning where there is none."


The interview concluded, and the man in the trench coat and the yet to be described woman walked out of the unknown coffee shop.

The woman turned to the man with a start, as if she had forgotten something. Which as it turns out, was exactly what had happened.

"I completely forgot to ask! What kind of art do you make?"

The man paused for a second before he stammered out, "M-music. I like to make songs. It's a good way to spread a message, you know?"

"Oh, for sure. Want to know what kind of art I make?"

"Su—"

"I make art installations, hanging on a wall. Stuff you put in a frame, y'know?"

"That doesn't sound like a very good way to spread a message." the man said, confused.

"Maybe not. But it's a good way to communicate a meaning."

"Ah. I see."

The man stood there, turning on the spot for a few seconds, his hands shoved into his trench coat. He was trying to pretend not to be nervous, but in doing so he just made himself look more nervous. Eventually, he gave up on procrastinating and asked the woman the question he had been meaning to ask this whole time.

"So… are you in?" he said, sheepishly.

The woman faked contemplation. Her answer was set from the moment he had told the truth.

"Of course."

"Glad to have you aboard, then." the man meekly muttered.

"Glad to be aboard. Meet you here tomorrow?"

"See you then."

The two parted ways. The man in the trench coat walked away from the unknown coffee shop, wondering why he felt not like he had just conducted an interview with someone interested in joining his group of rag-tag anartists, and instead rather like he'd just left a particularly vigorous therapy session.

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