The Death of a Painter: Flash Fiction

My husband once told me that Vincent van Gogh did not kill himself, that he was in fact shot accidentally by a schoolboy. The cause of Van Gogh’s death seems to be disputed to some degree, but I won’t try to unpack that mystery here (although, I don’t think he committed suicide). I simply drew inspiration from this historical mystery to write this bit of flash fiction. Van Gogh’s story is not the same.

The Death of a Painter

Death surprised the painter. A bullet appeared in his chest, hot and slicing. He clasped his hand over the wound. It was spring.

Newly opened flowers swirled into the dead winter grass and fresh greens of the field. Bright, wild splotches of purples and golds swam as far as he could see. Deep cadmium yellow and dioxazine purple, he thought. And from his own chest, a rich alizarin crimson.

Deeper in the field, he saw a boy holding the gun. The boy and the painter did not move for some time. They only looked at each other with the same surprised expression. The painter saw the boy’s youth, his foolishness. The boy wore a cowboy outfit, leather fringe and all.

The boy saw the painter’s blood and smelled the gunpowder. The painter looked small against the wide, blue sky and knee-deep field. He had not expected the gun to go off. The sound still ran in his ears, and he felt as if it always would.

“Go!” the painter shouted to the boy.

The boy flung the gun into the flowers and bolted. The artist remembered the lead in his chest. It felt heavy and pulled him down, closer to the rich-smelling earth.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed the read, be sure to hit that like button. Maybe leave a comment. Tell a friend. It makes my day when you do. 😉

© Sarah Day, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


  1. Merchantwritesagain

    This was such a captivating piece, I really like it. Just a minor grammatical point in the line that read, “Go!” the painter shouted to the boy. I think the ‘T’ in ‘the’ should be capitalized.Additionally, I would love to see you over at my blog. It would be nice to hear your thoughts (which you can leave in the post comments) on my work. I look forward to reading your subsequent work. Happy Blogging!

    • Sarah Jane

      So glad! Thank you for having a read. Means the world to me. =)


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indie author. artist. wanderer.

About Sarah Day

Sarah Day is a native Arkansawyer and professional writer. She grew up in the Ozarks and has been carrying around piles of books for as long as she can remember. In 2014, she graduated from the University of Arkansas with a creative writing degree.

Writing: LGBTQ Sci-fi + Fantasy

Published: Ora and the Old God

Upcoming: The Valor Queen + Mortal Restraints

Sarah Day ©2021