- Vol. 03
- Chapter 08
Image by Jean Cooke
Posterity’s Price‘That’s enough for today,’ my dear husband says, snatching the brush from my hand.
‘The kids’ll want feeding, and I need the studio to work on my piece for that competition.’
It’s not a studio, it’s our back bedroom, and you’re not going to win but I might, I want to say, but I don’t. ‘I could paint in the garden?’ I try instead.
He just shakes his head, sticking my brushes into jam jars of turpentine, stripping off the art and leaving function. ‘But I haven’t finished,’ I try make my voice coaxing, ‘you know how it is, love, I can see the painting already there on the canvass and I need to let it out to breathe before it suffocates and fades away.’
‘I said no, and that’s the only answer you’re going to get. You have things to do; go make lunch before your kids get home from school.’
‘My kids? I seem to remember you had something to do with it, climbing on top and putting them inside me.’
The air fills with the sting of paint remover and glass as he shatters it against the wall. ‘You always push me! Push, push, push! It’s like you want me to break!’ And, face crumbling into rage he looks at me like he hates me.
Sometimes I think I hate him too.
And I should stop, I should… but my own rage surges up to face his, and I want to spit and claw like a cat. ‘You just blame me for all the shit you fail at! You can’t stand it that I’m more in demand than you are!’
A backhand to my face and I double over, shock hitting me like ice. Game, set, match, I know it’s over as I clasp at my nose and hold back the flood of crimson, sinking into silence.
Posterity’s Price‘You made me do that!’ he screams as I back out of the room, leave him to his fury of splashing paint to obscure my work, scarlet across my careful pastels. I catch sight of him slashing through my image of our claustrophobic little world with a palette knife.
I scurry down the landing, must make myself look presentable before the kids get home. Must plaster a smile in place: my greatest creation.
But my next painting, stark and stripped down to my bones, I’ll show him. Red and purple as I look straight out of the canvass. Rip out my still beating heart and hold it up for everyone to see. Dreaming of escape, I shall bear witness and accuse. Finally raise my eyes.
Gaze out at the world as it gazes back at me but never sees who I really am and what goes on behind the locked door.
Never sees what I have to give up for the art I raise with shaking hands before they snatch it away.
Never sees the price I have to pay.