Saturday, May 11, 2019


I wanted to paint his hair from the second he sat down across from me. Jet black. Just long enough to fall in waves across his forehead and brush against his brows.

I think he spoke as he sat, but I was too busy imagining the stroke of my brush against canvas, recreating those waves, to reply. Eventually I pulled myself away from his hair long enough to speak, long enough to convince him that I was a mostly normal human.

That’s when I noticed his eyes, slate grey. Perhaps if he were wearing a different shirt, something other than black, they would have a hint of color, some blue or green. But against the stark solid black of his hair and clothes, they were the unyielding grey of storm clouds.

I wanted to paint them, too.

My wrist turned, swirled the brush in a gentle circle, leaving behind imagined traces of the paint on my palette back in the loft.

He saw the movement, and smiled. The smile changed the planes of his face, revealed architecture I hadn’t noticed. This I didn’t want to paint. This I wanted to sculpt. I needed to copy the lines and shadows, the edges gently rounded by flesh.

He asked if I played an instrument, if that’s what the movement was. I told him I was an artist. His smile turned, twisted, the storm in his eyes darkened as he offered to be my model.

I couldn’t say no. I took him home.

I don’t think he believed I really wanted him to be my model. I had to convince him to stop removing clothes after he peeled off his jacket, convince him to sit on the stool near the window instead of sprawling on my bed.

I got lost in the paint. The black from the tube was almost a match to the deep dark of his hair. I added just a touch of Prussian blue, a dab of Brown Madder. I took a long moment choosing my brush, trying different ones until the weight felt right, allowed the perfect curve of my wrist.

When I looked up, that smile of his was back. He seemed to be enjoying watching me. I didn’t look away as I slid my brush across the canvas. My eyes traced over the strands of his hair as my brush transferred those lines to the canvas.

It should have been perfect. Instead, it felt off, just a bit wrong. I looked at the canvas, tried to find my mistake. It was the paint, the brush, the canvas. The whole thing.

This was the wrong medium.

I stepped to my work bench and found my sketch book, a knob of charcoal.

Across the room, his brows furrowed as he asked what I was doing. I didn’t explain, just shook my head and told him to stay where he was.

The second the charcoal hit the page, I knew it was right. His hair, his eyes, his skin. All black, white, and grey. I was wrong to add any color. The sketch was fast out of my fingers, strokes and smears of coal racing across the page to form the man in front of me.

I don’t know if it was five minutes or fifty when I came out of the sketch and back to the real man. He still wore the smile, but seemed to have lost his shirt, revealing even more amazing architecture.

I waved him over to show him the sketch. He stood behind me, looking down over my shoulder. I felt the warmth of him, waves of him washing over me before he made any actual contact.

His hand brushed my neck, swept aside my hair. His lips fell to my skin, landing on the tender flesh where my shoulder joined my neck. Shivers raced down my arm, across my chest.

I was surprised by the touch, how deep it traveled. Even more surprised by the sweet salt smell of him. I wanted to taste that scent, touch him, absorb the lines of him into my hands.

So I did. It only seemed fair to let him touch me back. For all I knew, he was an artist, too.

He fell asleep before I did. I sat beside him while he slept, my eyes tracing every curve, every sharp line. I wanted to trace those lines, but I didn’t want him to wake. I wanted to study the shape of him in peace.

I moved away from the bed, quietly shifted materials until I found my clay. Safely at a distance, I sculpted him. The silky grit of the clay between my fingers was more intoxicating than the velvet of his skin had been.

The clay felt right, but what I was making was still wrong. I was missing something, some part of the structure that made him him. Something below the surface, hidden within.

I moved back to the bed, studying him where he lay, trying to see what was beneath his skin. I was looking for the answers, searching for what my clay was struggling to replicate.

I wished I had X-ray vision.

I opened the drawer of my bedside table and removed the closest item. I turned it in my hand, testing the feel of it as I had tested the feel of my brushes.

I climbed onto my bed, rising up on my knees next to him. I raised both arms above my head and blew out a breath before dropping my arms and all of my weight onto his chest.

The ice pick slid in, stabbing through his chest as easily as a knife through butter. His eyes flew open, the storm raging in them. His arms lifted, but he was already mostly gone, unable to push me away. One hand brushed against my arm as his hands fell back to the bed. A shiver crawled over me again.

I watched his eyes, watched the shifting of the grey until it iced over, leaving only slick, cold stone.

I looked to my hands, to the blood that seeped up around the ice pick. It was a deep, rich red, just like the blood that flowed in my veins.

There must be more. I reached back to the drawer, removed the other item. The metal scalpel was cold against my palm, unnatural compared to the wood of my brushes, the wooden handle of the pick. I waited for it to warm, become part of me.

Then I opened him.

I thought I’d find his secrets inside, the mysteries he held that made him so beautiful on the outside. But he was just like all the others.

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