Dead Trees and Teachers

As she places her hands upon the pale, white surface, it speaks to her of a multitude of near-invisible things. Invisible, but not unknown. At least not to her. From the shop in town where she steals to the park where she feeds the ducks on her lunch break, each step she takes leaves a trace of itself behind that comes out to play whenever she sets about creating an image she can pour her soul into. In many ways, the canvas is a giant bowl of soup. The soup with the bits in. Minestrone? She’s not too sure. But it’s certainly something like that. Breathing in deeply, the bits of her life that bobble on the surface so tantalisingly close are at first the most recent. Without much trouble, she can make out the scent of the girl who served her in the supermarket the night before last when she picked up a frozen pizza and a bottle of white wine. The girl was trashy but sultry, and Gretchen had enjoyed the aroma of her unwashed skin very much. If she breathes in deeper, she can taste the bar she was drinking in over the weekend, and how it reeked of stale beer and piss. There’s even the stench of aftershave coming from some guy that had been trying to chat her up while she was busy gazing at the waitress with the reddest lips she’d ever seen. The lips had smiled at her on several occasions, revealing teeth as white as snow. Gretchen had tingled all over, but before she’d had the chance to act, a group of people she knew came in and drowned the place out, and so the waitress was taken out to sea leaving her to suffer the creep who wouldn’t stop staring at her tits. If she holds her breath and presses her tongue against the paint, she sees further back, so far back that the trees surrounding her old childhood school come into view. The trees are now dead—wiped clean out of existence to make way for a housing project the same as the school itself—but here, in this studio, at this hour, the trees return to life. She can taste their crunchy leaves and the dry soil at their gnarly roots, and then the peeling red paint covering the graffiti-riddled railings containing the school playing field that was the arena of her childhood days. In her mind, she glimpses blue skies stretching forever, and in the air, she catches the scent of her favourite teacher’s perfume. It smells of oranges, and squishy young flesh the colour of sand, and even though it exists only in her mind, it whisks her off her feet the same as it did all those years ago. Digging her fingers into the canvas, she exhales as if being fucked.

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon UK

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon US

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