Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Vision

She looked at the image long and hard. She scratched her head to show him that she was thinking about, thinking long and hard. She moved her head around to jaunty angles, ways that she almost never moved her neck.
No matter what she did, or how she considered the possible illumination of the piece of artwork he displayed proudly before her she couldn’t ascertain any relevant meaning from it. It really was just a mess of paint to her.
She contemplated telling him this. Maybe he’d appreciate what it said to her, but she bit her tongue. She bit her fingernail as well and then stopped in case he was looking at her.
He wasn’t looking. He was sat on an old red sofa, spotted with paint and ripped open in places so that the stuffing poured out like fat. The sofa was turned away from the easel, away from where he worked so that he could at least try to switch off from his mind’s displays for a while.
The radio was on at that low volume that is as annoying as too loud. He was thinking, this artist, about something someone had said to him earlier. He stared at the music coming from the radio.
He found that he often realised that something interesting, something insightful about another person, had been revealed to him in conversation and he would only pick up on it later. By this time, the conversation had long faded to dust and there was little chance to query the interesting party. Another wasted opportunity.
“Celine,” he called without taking his eyes from the stereo. “What do you think?”
She stopped looking at the splurge on the canvas before her and bit her nail again. “Well, I loved the funny picture of the radioactive clown,” she said. “Very surreal!”
He smiled and nodded. He was pleased enough, but he found himself fighting not to ask her about the latest piece, the work he was proudest of.
“I’m glad you liked it,” he said. “Honestly, I am.” She moved uncomfortably in her jeans. They were just a little too tight and she felt it now as she walked back to the couch. The room was lit by just the spotlights pointing on the two easels and as she stepped away from these she felt more confident.
She picked up her long drink and nibbled the edge of the glass. There was room to sit next to the artist, on the couch, but Celine opted for a leather armchair facing him. She sat down slowly with her knees together and sipped her drink. The spotlights flared in her ice-cubes as she tipped the glass back.
“It’s a shame,” said the man, “that you didn’t like The Vision.” He referred here to the title of the strange abstract painting, and not in some grandiose way to his overall method or philosophy of painting.
The girl gulped her drink hard and swallowed an ice cube. It stuck in her chest and made her entire body tense up. She gritted her teeth against the cold.
“It’s not that I didn’t like it,” she said. “It’s that I didn’t understand it.” She fumbled now as the ice moved on away from her chest, “I’m sorry, sorry about that Robert. I just didn’t quite get it, maybe.”
“It’s a shame for us both, that you preferred the clown,” he said.
His words barely hung there for a second before her reply: “Why, Robert?”
Robert shook his head, then dropped it to the side a little and raised his eyes to look at her. His eyes looked softly and sadly upon her. “Maybe you don’t know why yet. But you will later,” he said.
They didn’t say anything for a minute or so. Just looked.
A buzzer sounded at the door. A man spoke.
“It’s David,” Celine said. “Shall I tell him to come up?”
“No, it’s fine. I have to finish up here. I’m tired. Goodnight Celine.”
Celine stood awkwardly and put down her glass. She looked down at Robert for a moment and then turned and stepped carefully across the wooden floor to the door, unbolted its latch and pulled hard. The great old metal door swung on creaking hinges.
“Goodnight Robert. I really did like your pictures, you know?”
Robert nodded.
“Don’t forget to lock the door behind me,” she said, stepping out of one world and into another.


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