Red part 6

6: The Sweetest Death

 

“Happy now, Laura? He’s coming over and he’s going to be here, and he’s… oh my god, I’m so nervous!” I babbled. It was Wednesday, Muse Day and James was going to be here any minute. In a fit of blind panic, I had hidden in the bathroom of the downstairs space I used as my studio.

“Will you relax? It’ll go smoothly. I bet he’s chuffed to help you.” Laura tried to reassure me. But alas, to no avail, because I was still shaking.

“But I’m asking him to pose in his skivvies! I don’t want to! What if he doesn’t want to?” I cried out, close to hysterics.

“It’s your call, Reed. Besides, you should be happy if he wants to. You haven’t seen a real naked man since Iddo.”

Suddenly, my blood started to boil. “Don’t you dare mention Iddo ever again. Don’t you fucking dare!”

“Shit, sorry, I knew I shouldn’t have done that. Forgive me? I’ll bring you chocolate and porn…”

I knew Laura didn’t mean to harm me. So, I forgave her.

“It better be good porn, Hannigan!” I mock-threatened her.

“I promise only the best.”

I smiled. Only a true friend would please another friend with good porn. Then, I heard a knock on the door. I panicked immediately.

“That’s him! Holy shit, that’s him!”

“Reed, breathe. Always remember to breathe. I’ll leave you to it then. Have fun!”

As Laura hung up, I cried out: “Don’t hang up, don’t leave me here!”

To no avail, of course.

I put my phone down and walked back into the great big emptiness of the studio, throwing my mobile on the bed.

Another knock. Followed by: “Reed? It’s James!”

I took a deep breath and said: “Just a second!”

Composing myself, I walked to the door and opened it. Behind the door was James, with one hand behind his back and shuffling his feet.

“Your muse has arrived.” he said, pulling out a bottle of champagne from behind his back. “And he brings bubbly. Hope you don’t mind?”

“No, not at all. And it’s good bubbly, so thank you!” I chirped, way too excitedly. “Come in.”

He walked into the room, taking in the size of it all. “This is a cool space. Yours?”

“Yeah. I live upstairs. I re-did the rooms downstairs and made it into one big studio.”

“With a bed in it.” he noted, casting his eyes on the king size bed in the corner of the studio.

I chuckled. “I sleep here sometimes. When it’s too much of a hassle going all the way upstairs. You can leave your jacket on the bed, if you like.”

He did just that, and walked over to one of my easels, studying one of my unfinished works.

“Lovely colors. Very… vibrant and alive.” he noted, briefly brushing his fingers across the paper. “What is it?”

“My interpretation of Aphrodite. I’m big on Greek mythology and I kinda worship her.”

He cocked his head to the side and studied me curiously. “You… worship Aphrodite? How so?”

I pointed in the direction of the upper-right corner of the studio. There, on a tiny table, was a little altar, with various rose quartz stones, an incense burner and a goddess statuette on it.

“She’s my inspiration. The goddess of love. Guides me through everything I do. Please don’t think I’m weird.” I added, just for the record.

He looked at me and, to my relief, smiled. “On the contrary. I think it’s quite cool. You’re quite different from any other woman I’ve ever met.”

“Should I take that as a compliment?”

“Yeah. Definitely. So, tell me, what do you want to do?”

“Well, I thought I could do some sketching? You’ll have to sit still a bit, though. But, you can talk to me, if you like.”

“Alright. I’ll sit still for you. How do you want to sketch me?”

Oh dear. Here comes the part that made me so nervous. I stayed silent for a moment, which, I think, totally gave it away.

“You want me to get my kit off, don’t you?” he chuckled heartily.

I blushed a furious red. “Just to your boxers. Or briefs. Or whatever you wear.”

“Alright. Turn around. And, it’s boxers, in case you wondered.”

I turned around and concentrated on keeping my breathing calm and orderly. It was hard to do so, since I heard his clothes rustle. In a few seconds, James Hunter was going to be almost naked in my studio. I could just imagine me fucking it up and running up to him and kissing him and devouring him and such.

“Alright. You can turn around now.”

Carefully, with my eyes pinched closed, I turned around. I could hear him laughing.

“Open your eyes, silly! It’s just me, your friendly colleague. Come on, don’t let this be awkward for the both of us.”

I slowly opened my eyes. And audibly gasped. In front of me was a perfect specimen of the male species. A mix of muscle and smooth skin… just perfection.

“You’re gorgeous!” I stammered, temporarily blinded by the beauty of this body. “I’ve never seen a man this fit, in the prime of his life. Like something out of Greek mythology.”

Only then did I realise that I said all that stuff out loud…

He didn’t answer. He only smiled.

What followed was a moment of pure bliss. We looked at each other, just smiling. There was a sparkle in his eyes that made me happy.

“So, if you’d just sit yourself down on that chair over there.” I said, breaking the moment, to my own regret. “And just take on a pose you’re comfortable with.”

I composed myself and walked over to my usual chair. James took his place on an old swirling office chair. He showed his playful side, swirling around on the chair and giggling like a little naughty kid.

“Will you sit still for a moment? I’m trying to work out how to draw you.”

“Oh, sorry. Can’t help it.” he said, with a cheeky smile.

“It’s ok, I do it too.” I admitted. “Now, just relax. Do a bit of gazing into the distance, if you like. Or look at me. Just focus on one point.”

He took on a very relaxed pose, slouching on the chair. Soon, the first pencil strokes were on paper.

“So. Tell me about yourself.” he said, only moving his lips. I was impressed by his ability to keep still.

“What do you want to know? Ask me, and I’ll answer.”

“Your full name. Age. Where you’re from. Why you became a teacher.”

“Alice Reed Sullivan. Twenty-nine. Gravesend, Kent. Because I wanted to teach other people about art in my own way. Are you satisfied?”

“Not at all. Why do people call you by your middle name?”

“Because I don’t like my first name. Even my parents know that. It’s nice and short and snappy, and I like that.”

“When did you discover you were good at art?”

“Age nine. I did a drawing of a faerie. My teacher said I was a prodigy.”

“Where does this fascination for Greek mythology stem from?”

“University. I had a teacher who could speak so passionately about Greece and its history and I hung on her very lips every lecture.”

“And Aphrodite? How did she come into your life?”

I smiled. The memory was so vivid, I could talk all night about it.

“One night, during a bout of very intense and passionate love-making, I could see this image in my head, of a beautiful woman, smiling at me. She said to me: “This moment is love. Cherish it. Make it yours to keep.” And I did. I have always believed that it was Aphrodite who shone on me that day. Have worshipped her ever since.”

“That’s a beautiful story. I don’t think I ever had such an intense experience before. And have you felt her presence ever since?”

“Yes. She’s always with me. I carry a rose quartz around my neck.” I said, pointing at my necklace. The pendant was a heart-shaped piece of rose quartz. “It’s the symbol of love. And thanks.”

“For what?”

“Not looking at me funny when I told you that. Not many people believe me. It’s nice of you to humor me.”

“Oh, I’m not humoring you. I believe you. Whenever I see you, it’s like you have a presence surrounding you. An.. aura, if you will. I believe it when you say she’s with you.”

I was stumped. Nobody believed me when I told that story. And he did.

That was the moment I fell in love with James Hunter. The moment my heart opened up to the oppertunity of the sweetest death that loving him might bring. The moment I dropped my sketchbook to the floor in sheer amazement at the fact that he was willing to believe me.

“Reed? Are you alright? You dropped your sketchbook.”

“Eh? Oh did I? Sorry. Momentary lapse of.. something.” I babbled. “Look, this sketching isn’t going to work tonight. I’ve come down with a sudden case of the shivers…”

Improvisation was never my best side, as you may notice.

“And I can’t seem to hold my pencil right. So, shall we try photos instead? Or do you want to call it quits for tonight?”

“Depends on how you feel? You seem quite pale. I think you could do with some rest.”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right. A bit of television will do me good.”

“Alright.” he smiled. “So, will you be… requiring my services some other time? I’m free on Saturday, if you like.”

“Saturday. Saturday. Yes, Saturday will be fine. Saturday morning? Nine-ish.”

“Deal. So, I best get my kit back on.”

“Yeah, best that you do.”

***

He put his clothes back on and we said our goodbyes. Later that night, as I was lounging on my couch watching the television, the telephone rang. It was Laura.

“So, how did it go?”

“Well, he brought bubbly. He took his kit off and asked me questions whilst I sketched him. And then I fell in love with him.” I said dryly. “So, all in all, your bog-standard night at the Sullivan house.”

“Hold on… you fell in love with him? How did that happen?”

“I don’t know! All of a sudden, I was! What am I going to do now?”

I could hear Laura chuckle on the other end of the phone.

“If only I knew, Reed. My advice? Enjoy it. Enjoy being in love. And who knows? Maybe your Aphrodite will work her magic…”

***

That night, I went downstairs to my altar and lit a candle for Aphrodite.

“Goddess of Love, hear my prayer. Guide me in this newfound love for James and I shall be forever grateful.”

The flame flickered momentarily, and then, as if out of nowhere, it fizzed out. That was her sign. She was here.

And I prayed that she had heard me.

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. kazigrrl

     /  August 12, 2011

    That will certainly make being around him in school interesting! 😉

    Reply

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