Sunday, February 10, 2008


Silence: his and mine. Our bodies lie side by side.

The sound of waves. Laughter from some distant party. The cloak of night conceals his features.

There is movement. He is mindlessly tracing something in the sand.

Out of boredom his hands begin to fascinate me. I hold his hand in mine, turn it over, squint at it in the dark, trying to determine the intersecting lines of destiny engraved in his palm. It doesn't occur to me that he will take this to mean something. Later, he insists that my interest in his hands is a sign of my attraction towards him. Later still, he tells me that my interest in his hands was a sign of my yearning to be possessed by him. What is for me, the innocence of touch explodes in his eyes as uncontainable lust. He has a habit of telling me what my desires are. He does so urgently, telling me what I want with conviction and force, and such utter persuasion that in order to thwart off my imminent surrender I either resort to flight or insults. He suffers from impatience, restlessness, recklessness. It makes him audacious and insistent, and sometimes a downright bastard.

Once, I tell him what he is with overwhelming sincerity. I march into his apartment with uncustomary determination. I tell him he's arrogant, egotistical, selfish - derogatory adjectives that I supplement with generic expletives like "asshole" and "fuck you". It doesn't last long. I'm a failure at tirades. When I'm left rummaging for more insults he raises his eyebrow, laughs and tells me that is exactly what he is. Then he turns his back to me, faces a half-finished canvas and starts working. I stare at his back, the way his muscles move as he paints, the image being born...He's not working for the image. He's painting to avoid me.

It's quite awhile before he steps away, and turns back again. He looks surprised to see me still standing there. I don't know why I stayed, didn't really realize I was still there till he looked at me and I started into my own presence.

I blink, the room suddenly seems too bright. After awhile he says he's glad I'm still there. I half hate him for saying that.

"I've destroyed it", he says, glancing towards the canvas. He fills a glass with whiskey and downs it in one shot. He fills it again and asks me if I want any.

He scoffs when I tell him I don't drink. He says incredulously: "How can you not? How do you manage to write?" He says this with the unflinching complacency of an artist acquainted with suffering, an artist who believes in its necessity, and who believes that drinking is the fundamental mechanism of expression. He says he always needs to drink when he paints. I tell him his drinking is just a gesture of despair. Evidence of suffering that makes him function as an artist. Suffering is his artistic identity. Without the belief that he is suffering, his whole artistic world would shatter. This makes him sullen.

He looks at me intently, with the gravity of silence, and says: "Well how do you do it then? Write..."

"I hardly write. Even when I write it's never much. I might as well not have written." I say with a shrug, and deposit myself in the chair by his desk. He keeps on looking at me as I swivel from side to side. Then he sighs and shakes his head. "Don't move so much," he says as he turns towards his canvas, "I'm going to try and capture you".

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