I am watching him talking with a friend. They have met at the doorway to his favourite café – now mine (I even go later in the day and sit at the same table, the same seat and drink coffee from the same long tall glasses). It is his place and there is a delicious sense of invasion and transgression in inhabiting it in his absence. It is the closest I expect to get, the closest I would dare.
I understand the mind of a stalker now. In my own limited way I have perhaps become one. But I know so little of him really, and I am no inquisitive voyeur. It does not occur to me to follow him, nor anything else so banal. I would not go through his mail, would not telephone (if I even knew his name!) and sit silent at the other end as he answers, would not even plead with him for a moment’s attention. I do not beg. A lifetime of lack has inured me to that – I have my pride. I sit above him and watch and pray that this will be enough, that it will not destroy me, this slow, trickling pain that is denial and fear.
I hate his friend in this moment more clearly and cleanly than I have hated anyone, even myself. I envy. I loathe. I covet. Each smile, each casual touch on the arm, the happy and easy assent as the one asks the other to join him. They are both so young, and this friend is nearly – but not quite – as beautiful as my Hope. They belong. They fit in a manner that I never could. I would obliterate the friend now; wipe him from the canvas, return to the solitude I thought Hope and I shared.
His friend is more flamboyant. I find myself thinking that the more colourful garb of the intruder would find a far more worthy host in my love. I do not wish to criticize or judge the one I adore – it seems wrong, uncivil even – yet one does it despite oneself. There is no satisfactory way to shield oneself from one’s own opinions. Not matter how hateful. My love is a beautiful flower clothed normally in drab greys and browns. He shows no real imagination or flair. I hate that I see this, even more that I can put words to it, form a critique in this manner, but it comes unbidden and complete to me.
I cannot hide from the facts that face me.
But an idea occurs to me. I cannot have my love, but I can paint him, and in doing so I can create him in the colours that would more fit his beauty. High above him in this apartment block I can dream and put form to the life he should live, if only he would realize.
My beloved on my canvas comes easily, almost too easily, as though angels or demons guide my hand. I have him in a grey suit still, to retain some of his essence, but here a cheeky red cap, matched with a flowing red scarf. Finished with a simple red handkerchief peering out from his coat pocket. Two silver rings on his fingers – a thumb and a middle finger. He is striding towards the coffee shop, his lovely eyes shielded by fashionable sunglasses. Among the dark and drab inhabitants I use to fill out the scene he is an exotic creature, a darling of the gods. He is what I have dreamed and my art could be enough, after all.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved