I wrote this one back in November, but I figure I’ll air it out now, see how it smells….
The smell of oil sticks was starting to get to her. It wasn’t the strong odour, she could handle that. She sat back in her chair and took a deep breath. The heavy scent filled her nose, causing all of those carefully concealed memories to come rushing back. She sighed, wishing memories wouldn’t rush quite so fast, even though she knew it beat having them creep back slowly, one by one, at all those inopportune moments.
The floor creaked as she stepped away from the huge canvas. Shaking the dizzy out of her head, she walked outside to their–her–balcony. She put both hands on the railing and leaned over, stretching out her cramped back muscles. I’ve been working on this for too long, she thought. It was cold outside. Leaves drifted off the trees when they were damn well ready, and it was pretty and kind of fun to watch, but the sun was too bright so she went back in.
He raked leaves at his parents’ farm. The smell of hay, cut grass, and chilly air mixed just enough to make him nostalgic. It was a sneaky nostalgia, because he remembered everything with a smile: all the time they spent out here, wandering around the woods and gardens, planting, weeding, sketching, laughing. His thoughts turned to the huge painting he had started out here, but never finished.
He remembered it all, but he couldn’t remember what happened to cause the fight, couldn’t remember why he stormed out last spring. His smile deflated and he finally felt the cold he’d been ignoring all day. He stopped raking and stood still, getting even colder, as more leaves drifted off the trees, falling at his feet. It suddenly felt like he would never be finished.
Every night around eleven-thirty she would take the tray of oil sticks into the room that had been preserved exactly as he left it. The six-by-eight canvas stood propped against an easel, calming staring back at her. She worked slowly and methodically each night until she was tired enough to sleep. Her body usually gave out before her mind did, most mornings around seven. All night she worked with the oil sticks, listening to Bjork or something else morose, putting painstaking detail and tears into every single blade of grass. Sometimes it seemed like she would never be finished, there was too much detail to shove in, too many obsessive little strokes.
It hit her, after she slowly added her initials to the bottom of the canvas in late November, that she didn’t ever want to be finished. So she found something wrong with a single leaf and went back to work.
It started to snow, and the weather told them what to do and how to do it all over again.