Release Date: 05/2009
Publisher: Eternal Press
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-926647-79-1
ISBN (print): 978-1-926647-87-6
Publisher Link: http://www.eternalpress.ca/paintingfromlife.html
Amazon: Painting from Life
Blurb: Love is never what you think. When a painter goes beyond the degree of intimacy that provides the connection between him and his newly-discovered muse, he is forced to undergo a re-evaluation of the true meaning of love. In a strange wist on the Dorian Gray theme, perhaps the artist steals the subject’s essence as love and art meld into one.
He was naked.
I couldn't help it. I gazed at his body, its faded strength and suppleness. I'd never seen him naked before. His once wiry chest was covered with faint grey hair, his belly was soft where the muscles had sagged and shrivelled with disuse, and his thin prick was wrinkled now into his thigh, echoing the slight bow of his legs. Then at last, I looked into his face.
"I'm sorry," I said as I held the towel out to him. "It's just that I think you're beautiful. It doesn't matter that you're old."
I'd never said such words to any man before, so I wasn't surprised when he snatched the towel from my hands and, muttering something I couldn't catch, covered himself with it.
"Please," I continued, looking away from him. "Not like that. I meant as someone who loves to paint you."
I could feel his eyes piercing into my skin and after a while, I dared to look up at him again, locking my gaze with his.
"Can I paint you naked?" I asked him.
"Please," I whispered. "Don't you trust me?"
Another silence, long and filled with an emotion I was still unable to name. Then he removed the towel and dropped it onto the floor.
"Like a son," he said. "No, better than a son."
"Can... can you stay like that for a while?"
He nodded and, without taking my eyes from his frame, I backed out of the bathroom and ran to fetch my pencils and paints.
That day, I completed the best picture I was ever to create. With every stroke of the brush, it felt as if I were touching the man himself. Revealing his vulnerability and at the same time letting him see more of who I was, giving him more of myself than I'd ever given to anyone. Not even Amanda. Especially Amanda. All the time I was sketching and painting, his eyes remained fixed on me. Now and then, as was our custom, I would glance up and smile. It was only an hour later, when I'd finished my preliminary drawings, that I realised how cold and frail he had become.
"You should have said something to me," I scolded as I helped him back to the bedroom. "To make me stop. You know I've warned you before."
"No," he whispered, his voice hesitant in my ear. "You need to do this. No matter what it costs."
"That's not true. You're more important to me than any painting, I swear it."
He just patted my hand. In the bedroom, I sat him down and dressed him, cursing my own selfishness. As I tied the laces on his shoes, he coughed and made as if to say something. At once I stopped what I was doing and drew back to listen.
"I spoke to my son last week," he said and began to cry. "He's been talking to my neighbours. They're thinking a Home might be best for me now. Someone to take care of me all the time. But I don't know, I don't know."
"No," I rubbed his leg up and down to try to provide comfort.
"It won't come to that, it won't."