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Portrait | D.

His hands moved feverishly. Always moving, always shaking.

The Artist stared at the drop cloths on his walls and saw himself in them. His memories and his experiences were surfacing, exposed through the tooth of the fabric. Those moments held, developed into curls and slashes of acrylic. As the image emerged, he thought it was beautiful, and he hated it. While creating the reflection he was alive, but in looking at it after, he only saw what he once was, something he could never be again.

Tall, lanky, and handsome, the Artist stood. Walking around his apartment the way spilled-mercury slides on glass, he found his pack of cigarettes, a lighter, and then hit the light switch on his way out. Outside, the night air was cool, and though he could hear cars and people in the distance the world was mostly quiet. It was late. He fished a cigarette out of the pack with practiced precision and placed it in his mouth. The stick hung from his lips by the filter for a few seconds while he looked around at nothing.

The edges of his last work were still burned into his retina, but they vibrated and shook like his hands. He twitched his nose, breathed in deeply, raised an eyebrow, and then told the night firmly to fuck off. Cupping one hand around the other, he raised the lighter smoothly to the end of the cigarette and snapped it once to fire. Puffing quickly and easily, he dragged the cigarette to life and pocketed the lighter.

The Artist had that one moment alone in the hours after midnight, only that. With scissored fingers, he pulled the cigarette away and saw his hand was perfectly still. But as he focused on it, he saw the building across from him begin to quiver, and the foliage between to shake and shift. His eyes moved independent from the rest of his body, suspiciously picking out objects in the scene only to discover that each was shaking.

He was not impressed. The Artist was in fact, quite bored and annoyed that the environment was mocking him this way. The rest of his body still, he only moved exactly what was necessary to continue smoking. As if his look of extreme displeasure was enough, the view from his porch returned to its usual disposition.

He raised the remains of the cigarette for one last pull and saw his hand was shaking again. The Artist only wriggled his nose in contempt, finished the cigarette, and then snuffed it out on the wall before depositing the jobless filter in the pack. His body language said, Typical, in disgust as he went back inside.

There it was again. His mind spilled out freely all around him. There were canvases stacked upon canvases, paint stacked on paint. He tore papers, scraped old paintings, and textured and painted over what he’d made before.

A ghost of a woman stood long and lean against a wall that was forced into being by his quivering fingers. She was clear, beautiful, and powerful against the environment that he built pigment by pigment around her. There was a paper in her hand, and a lit cigarette in the same with a trail of breathing smoke rising up from the tip. Her eyes were closed, her legs were gone, and she only wore a loose fitting tank top, and a thin set of sultry underwear. She was comfortable cool, and he liked her that way.

The Artist wasn’t sure when or how, but he thought he might destroy her as he walked up to take a closer look.

Not tonight.

There were others he had to destroy first. He found another woman with a wheel of rust around her like the headpiece of a sun goddess. She was shattered like a fallen statue. She might have been anyone for him. She might have been a dream. Whatever she once was, it was her time to come undone.

Resurfacing while looking deeply into her, he worked passionately with hardened brushes, dried paints and knives, scrapers and open eyes. Once she was bare, he began again, layering, mixing, and applying himself to her.

Hours passed without any other thought or consideration. There was only the Artist searching for himself unconsciously. He stepped back as daylight began dripping up his walls, distorting his vision and confusing his motives.

But there he was.

There he was. Faint, but true, he saw through to exactly what needed to be. That was all that he needed. The Artist could finally rest.

Tonight though, he would finish the Lunatic.

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