"You have a beautiful mind. Look at the things you create. It's a gift."
Blue crashes over red and makes purple. The scent of oil blends with turpentine. Crack a window. Let the fumes escape. Odorless turpentine is not odorless. Control the brush with an iron fist, white knuckled demands, smear and streak. Fill the picture plane with color. Fill it with life. Breathe air into it. Let it grow and become a beast.
"Are you listening to me? Did you hear what I said?" He crossed the studio and grabbed my shoulders, spun me round to face him. The brush came along for the ride and drew a trail of purple across his shirt. He didn't notice. Or didn't care. It was impossible to tell. "Look at your work! THAT'S who you are. That's how you're defined. Not by love, love is a passing thing. Fleeting in the big picture."
He picked up my ratty old notebook full of ramblings, full of pain, full of dreams. "This is your legacy. This is what matters. This is Cynthia." His chest heaved with excitement. Adrenaline pushed the blood through his veins. I watched it with numb fascination. It was hypnotic. Beat. Beat. Pause. Beat. Beat. Pause.
I said nothing.
I put the brush down.
There was a sad beginning of a shape on the canvass. An eye peeking trough a kaleidoscope of color. "You are better than the men you've been chasing. Don't you know that? You cast your pearls before swine, Chica. But that isn't who you are. Can't you see that?"
I wiped the paint from my fingers. I smeared it all over my jeans and went over to the window. The sun was shining. Peeking trough the clouds to wink at me. Flirty bastard.
I remember the sound of his voice. I remember the feel of it's sweet vibration in my ear. What had he said? Which time? So many things. So much to just slip away. He called me Sweetie. Another called me Kitten. So many called me mental. So many things. I remembered the others. The feel of warm hands, big and strong, kneading my shoulders. I remember kisses and wanting them so badly only to find them hollow.
Vern turned me around again. He wrapped me up in warm arms. I could smell his aftershave, smell his cologne. I could hear his heartbeat. I could feel him--real and solid. I could see the frustration in his line, in his muscles, in his face. Why couldn't I love him?
He led me to the canvas. He put the paintbrush in my hand. The canvass loomed bold and bright before us. I saw the love in his eyes, saw the worry. I knew what he wanted from me. I knew what I wanted. But the two were impossible. They'd never meet in this century. He wanted me; I longed for another.
He kissed my forehead and gestured to the painting. "Finish it. Remember who you are. And for God's sake...don't ever say you want to die again."
I watched the door close behind him.
Streak the purple. Crash it into yellow. Switch to red. Lips should always be red. Candy apple, delectable, nibblingly beautiful red...