January – June / Serial Book

January – June / Serial Book

5 January

There was a long queue. Lots of jokes about shots of whiskey in the coffee. She got five names wrong, on purpose. Only those who were rude. Jack (ass) was particularly annoyed. She said it indicated ‘assorted syrups.’ He left in a huff. The next customer giggled.

It’s rare to see a man giggle, but he did.

‘Black coffee,’ he said. ‘Please.’

She wanted to be annoyed because people who don’t say americano usually just try to be ‘anti pretentious,’ but he’d giggled so…

‘Sure,’ she said. ‘Next.’

The shift went by quickly. Nice to have a busy day when your brain is incapable of busying itself with anything other than living plants. She grabbed a black coffee to go. Pretentious.

Her studio was freezing cold, and dark and gloomy and all those other things that would linger long into spring. But the painting was as golden as always.

‘Hello,’ she said. He stared back at her, engulfed in an ocean of swirling orange and yellow.

‘Don’t you look happy,’ she said. He did.

‘They’re still alive,’ she said as she fastened the belt of her apron. ‘War lilies more like.’

She started with his hands, a layer of black so thin you could still clearly see the outline underneath.

‘Someone giggled at my rude joke today,’ she said. ‘Jackass. Not original, but satisfactory.’

She stopped her brush mid stroke.

‘I’m not erasing you; I’m refining you.’’ She continued the brush stroke.

Mozart climbed out of the speakers.

‘Too stressy,’ he always said.

‘You’re with me, aren’t you?’ she replied.

‘Yes, but I can change your composition whenever I want.’

It was a little creepy, but it was true.

She stopped when the whole painting had a thin layer of black draped over it. It made her sad, and regretful. ‘I don’t think I refined you,’ she said and wiped a sleeve across the canvass. Some of the paint rubbed off, most didn’t.

‘I’m sorry I couldn’t change your composition,’ she said. He was silent. His mouth had disappeared.

She washed up and put her coat on.

‘They say hi,’ she said.

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