• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 08
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You never could see me, could you?

I really don’t want to sit for you today. My eyes are itching and I feel awful but you aren’t listening. I know you have to paint whether the urge is on you or not but couldn’t you paint someone else? You only need a face, you don’t care whose it is. You’ve never painted your mother. You could easily take your easel into the house and paint her (and that’d give me a bit of peace from her endless demands which you so successfully avoid out here in your studio).

'Try not to look so shocked, love,’ you say.
Shocked? You’d be shocked if you lived inside my head, if you heard the noise in here. You’re always so busy painting or thinking about what you’re going to paint or agonising because you’re not painting that you've stopped listening to me.

'Wear this hat,’ you say, plonking a hat I thought I’d thrown out on my head. ‘Remember where we bought it?’ Of course I remember. It was in Bruges in that market that I thought would be full of lovely things but turned out to be full of tat. We couldn’t even find a decent coffee shop (I wanted hot chocolate, I could taste it, they make great hot chocolate) but they keep strict opening (or closing) hours in Bruges and we were too late. At five o’clock for goodness’ sake.

A week later you’ve finished, at least finished enough to tell me I can go. My cold’s cleared up. I look at the painting for the first time. My head’s bursting with the things I’ve decided to do while I’ve been sitting here not looking after you or your mother.


You never could see me, could you?

The painting is ghastly. My cold’s gone but you’ve painted me with a red nose. My eyebrows look as if they belong to someone who’s had to draw them on. The shirt’s the wrong colour (I’m wearing indigo, you idiot) but my eyes are telling you what I'm about to do. (By the way, the day I wore that hat we had the worst fight of our lives, before you stopped listening. You've obviously forgotten, but I’ve at last decided what I'm going to do about it.)

I’m writing you a note now. A long detailed note. By tonight, the note and the painting will be all you’ve got left of me. And I bet I know which one of them you’ll decide to think of as me. When I’m gone.