Painting

“Sylvia?”

“Just a minute. I’m almost at a place where I can stop.”

“Okay, well, I’m ready to go.”

“Oh.”

“Tom and Corey are waiting.”

“I know. I just… I feel like if I leave now, I’m going to lose my rhythm.”

“We told them we’d be there ten minutes ago. We’re already late.”

“We are?”

“Yes. I told you fifteen minutes ago that we needed to leave. You said ‘just a minute’ then, too.”

“Shit.”

“We’re always late, Sylvia.”

“No, not that. I just… Ugh. I just messed up a line. Now I’ll have to fix it…”

“Can’t it wait? We promised them we’d be there. We’ve been looking forward to this for a week.”

“I’m sorry. Just… I guess just drive without me. I’ll get ready and I’ll be there in a little bit, okay?”

“Okay. Are you sure?”

“What?”

“Are you sure it’s just going to be a little bit? Because last time you said that…”

“Yes! Look, I’m putting my brushes down. See? Just tell them I got caught up in painting and I’ll just be a few minutes. You guys can order an appetizer.”

“Alright.”


“Hey, did you forget something?”

“No, but you did.”

“What? No, I just realized there was one more thing I could do quick…”

“It’s been three hours, Sylvia.”

“Oh. Wow.”

“We waited to order for over an hour. You never showed up.”

“I could have sworn it was only a few minutes…”

“No. Three hours. Three hours and fourteen minutes, actually.”

“That’s crazy. I’ve been working on this eye for three hours?”

“I don’t know what you’ve been doing for three hours, but you certainly weren’t with me, at the restaurant that you promised to be at, eating dinner with our best friends to celebrate their anniversary.”

“I didn’t meant to… I just, you know. It’s so easy to get pulled it.”
“That is what you say.”

“Hey, don’t say it like that. I don’t like it when you say things like that.”

“I don’t like it when you say you’re going to do something and then you don’t follow through. You didn’t even make an attempt. You’re in the exact place I left you.”

“No, I’m not. Look at the painting.”

“Honestly, Sylvia? It’s great. It’s really good. But I can’t tell the difference between now and when I left.”

“No way. Look, I completely changed the lighting around her eye. It looks so much more alive now.”

“Alright.”

“It’s really frustrating when you’re so, I don’t know, dismissive. Like you don’t actually care about my work.”

“It’s really frustrating when you don’t act like you care about our lives.”

“That’s not fair. I do care.”

“You stayed in the basement for three hours working on your painting while I went to dinner with your best friends —”

“Our best friends.”

“Our best friends, sure, but you know I wouldn’t even know them if it wasn’t for you. The point is that you’re not really showing that you care.”

“My art is important.”

“Absolutely, it is. But is it more important than your friends?”

“Well…”

“That should be an easy question to answer, Sylvia. Come on.”

“No. No, you’re right. They’re more important. You’re more important.”

“I’m not convinced that you believe that. You certainly don’t show it.”

“Ouch.”

“You spend, like, every moment you’re not at work down here painting.”

“It’s what I like to do. It’s what I want to do.”

“It would be nice if you spent some of those moments with me, even if it was just for dinner with our friends, or watching a TV show together.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry. I do care about you, you know.”

“I’m going to bed soon. Join me?”

“Okay.”


“What time did you come to bed last night?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t want to know. I sat down on the couch for a little bit to look at my painting from another angle. I fell asleep for a while. Then I came up to bed.”

“I missed you. I fell asleep alone.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You say that a lot. I wonder if either of us actually know what it means anymore.”


“Hey, you made dinner!”

“I did.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. It’s my way of trying to find a better way to apologize.”

“Oh. I’m sorry for the way I said that this morning. It was… I could have been nicer. I could have found a better way to say it.”

“It’s alright. I mean, it wasn’t, then. I was pissed at you. I thought about it for a while and now I get it, though. You were right.”

“Maybe. I don’t know. It wasn’t fair, the way I phrased it, and it’s not fair to ask you to step away from your art. It’s important. It means a lot to you, and to me. I just think we need to find a better balance.”

“We do. And we will. I actually liked making dinner. Maybe I’ll do it more often.”

“I hope so.”


“Jason?”

“Hmm?”

“I haven’t worked on my painting for two days.”

“Hmm?”

“Are you awake?”

“Kinda?”

“I haven’t been able to work on the painting for two days.”

“What have you been doing downstairs?”

“I don’t know. Staring at it. Trying to find the right place to pick back up.”

“It’ll be okay. You’ll figure it out.”

“I hope so.”

“No, you will. No hoping. You don’t have to hope for something if you know it will happen.”

“I guess.”

“Go back to sleep for now. It’s like three in the morning.”

“Yeah. Okay. I’ll try.”


“What’s wrong?”

“I made dinner.”

“I see that. Thank you. But that’s not what’s wrong, is it? It looks good.”

“No, the dinner is fine. It’s the painting. I’ve lost it. I can’t go back to it. It will never be done.”

“We talked about that —”

“You don’t get it. It’s been two weeks. Two weeks and four days, really, so almost three weeks. I might as well start something new at this point. Might as well throw that one away.”

“Sylvia, no. It’s so good.”

“It’s not finished, though. I’ll never finish it now because I lost my place.”

“Just sit down and work on it. You’ll find it.”

“It’s not that simple. I can’t even remember what I wanted to do next. It’s like setting down a book you’re reading for like, three years. Or a video game you were playing. You have to restart it if you want to have any chance of understanding it.”

“You can’t restart the painting. You’ve put so many hours into it already.”

“Trust me, I know. I tried to start another painting today.”

“If you start another one, you’ll never finish the first one.”

“I’ll never finish it now, anyway.”

“That’s not a good attitude.”

“Sometimes it’s better to recognize when something is lost, rather than hurt yourself more by fighting to find it again.”

“Fine. So we call the painting done, then. It looks done to me.”

“It’s so far from done. There was so much I wanted to do, still. I just can’t figure out where to start or how to do it. I had such a clear picture in my mind.”

“You said you started a new painting today. Maybe if you work on that one for a while, you can come back to this one.”

“I said I tried to start another painting.”

“Tried to?”

“It’s still just a blank canvas. Really all I did was set it up. It’s nothing. There’s nothing in my mind to put on it.”

“Well, just paint a still life or something. Just to be painting something. That’s better than just staring at a blank canvas.”

“It’s not.”

“It might be. It used to be. That’s how you got to where you are now. You know, simple stuff. Sketches and still life paintings and warm-ups and practice. It could work again.”

“I don’t want to. I’m just… I’m just going to let it rest for now. Either it will come back, or it won’t. That’s how art is. It doesn’t matter what I do to try to chase it I have to let it come to me.”

“Sylvia…”

“It’s okay. It will give us what we wanted, right? It means I have more time for you. And for our friends.”

“That’s not how I wanted that to happen.”

“Sometimes when we get what we wanted, we realize we never really wanted it after all.”

“You’re being so dark right now. I didn’t just want more time with you. I didn’t want you not to spend time with your art. I’m not that selfish. I just wanted, you know. Both. For you. Time with me, and time with your art.”

“I know. Me too.”

“You’ll get it back. I know you will.”

“Okay.”

“You’re just saying that to end the conversation.”

“No, I believe you. Well, part of me does, but it’s way down deep and it’s not doing a good job of showing itself. The rest of me highly, highly doubts you. None of that is important right now, though.”

“Yes it is.”

“No, let’s just let it be. Let’s just eat dinner, and spend the night together, and maybe by the end of that I’ll accept that I just needed a break from art. Or whatever. And everything will be okay.”

“Will it?”

“Maybe, maybe not. For now I’ll just have to hope that it will.”

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