Every Picture Tells a Story
The romance had gone from being an artist, only the room seemed remotely romantic in a shadowy kind of way. The net curtains draped idly over the white windowsill from where the view unfolded into neon landscapes blotted out by taut buildings that stood in isolation like bewildered bullies.
On the bedside table a green lampshade filtered a mysterious suspended light that settled nervously throughout the small bedsit.
She painted delicately he thought, her eyes tender with timidly engaging concentration and her hand shaking each time she dabbed away his tears. He couldn’t be sad anymore, she had seen to that.
She had made him smile again, but now he felt out of place as he watched her paint.
She was the sad one now.
She laid her paintbrush down on the pallet and got up from the wooden seat that was daubed in ink and various dried colours. He wondered if she would speak to him as she stood and stared stoically into the painting. He wanted her to come closer to him, he wanted to tell her something but she began to cry and before he could say anything at all she took her coat from the back of the stand and ran from the room shaking the hinges with the force of the slamming door.
His eyes were still wet, he could feel them.
He tried to blink but it didn’t work.
To the side of where he stood there was a glass jar of dirtied coloured water. It reminded him of the cloudy depths of where he came from, the dirty milky swamp of human feeling. He felt suddenly terribly alone, yet he couldn’t seem to wipe the smile off his face. He couldn’t lift any arm to knock that stupid brightly coloured hat off his head, in any case he had never felt like an arrogant and pompous bourgeoisie spirit so why was he in these clothes?
He looked at the jar again, he couldn’t help smiling but he knew this was the end, he could not stand it anymore. He missed being himself, this new face made him feel miserable and this was the irony that she had not understood. She couldn’t work out how he seemed to look so miserable after all her many attempts to make him happy. Slowly he rocked the painting, it took all his strength, he was breathing sharply through those smiling teeth, swaying the frame from side to side until it touched the edge of the jar and then…
She came back after it was done, before she could do anything about it. The painting was face down, the canvass lay in a puddle of dirty coloured water, pieces of smashed glass and her paintbrushes were scattered across the wooden floor. When she picked the painting up, her work was ruined.
She felt like crying again but instead she placed the canvass back in its original place and went to the side of the room where the net curtains fell motionless to the edge of the windowsill.
She checked to see if the window was just fractionally open but it wasn’t. Wind had not caused the painting to fall.
She stared outside and the glow of aching light that hummed from the epidermis of the landscape almost hypnotised her and her mind drifted to the reality of her life.
She didn’t like the city anymore and she didn’t like being a renowned artist. She felt that she had to compromise with her work, like she was a product of her environment and not producing work through her environment. She wanted to be real again, to be spontaneous and uncaring about what the world thought of her work. She couldn’t be the dynamic new portrait artist they were all calling her, she wasn’t like that, she painted from the heart without a label attached. She wanted to be bloody-minded and natural again like she once had been and paint pictures of life and colour and hope and challenge old boundaries instead of passively concurring to them. She felt trapped inside her stereotype. To hell with the money she thought, no more commissions, no more selling out.
The sound of the busy New York Street bickered up at her rudely and she turned her head away and looked back inside, across at the stained and ruined canvass. The bright colours of the Aristocratic portrait had been blurred into a greyish brown, the definition of lines and strokes lost with the splurge of its deathly immersion into the dirty water from the jar. It was a mystery how this had happened, and she bemused over the fact that there really was no way she could complete this commission in time.
She continued to gaze at the painting and noticed the hat on the Aristocrats' head had been completely annihilated by the dirty water, it looked almost as if the face had stopped smiling too, but when she looked at the eyes she saw the expression of amusement gazing back at her. She got up from the windowsill and stood in front of the painting.
She saw now that the mouth was drawn down into a definitive miserable scowl that shocked yet intrigued her at the same time. The whole demeanour of the face she had painted had changed. She stared at the eyes of the face, they were sparkling, the only part of the picture untouched by the dirty water.
She arched her neck back and began to laugh. She laughed like a crazy woman, like some wild baying female hyena at the edge of its world.
I laughed too, a deep inner laugh that did not change my delightful miserable scowl. I laughed because I knew she finally knew that we are what we are, the way we are made, the way we are meant to be.
For in my life Mon Ami, I can honestly say…
Every picture tells a story.