Eventually I had to know. I now understood god and his wish for man to have free will in a manner I had previously not apprehended. Love is not love if it is coerced or forced. You must choose to engage from your own desire, be it sexual or spiritual or both. But even god holds a weapon in his arsenal – eons of religion which remind one of the penalties of not returning this love, of straying from the path. As a hidden god I could not play this game with Richard. At best I could withdraw my patronage and tutelage. But of course, that would have been impossible for me – to lose even that connection with my beloved was unthinkable. So my only power was hidden also, the power of my paintings to progress a matter, rather than dictate it wholly. Was it so bad, then, to do what god has done for centuries, even under the guise of powerlessness? If the penitent sinner is beloved of god and acceptable, and if god’s threatened ire is considered spiritually just, then how could my power – given from I know not where – be wrong?
I was given the gift of art and I pursued it, even where many were not so blessed. I thought nothing of it. I was given material comfort and I enjoyed it, even though many starve. I was given the crucible of a happy family life in my youth when I knew many of my peers were not so fortunate. And also I was given the harelip, the awkwardness at sports, and a myriad of other disadvantages. It all balanced in the end. You use what you are given and there can be no wrong in that.
Therefore, given this power, how could its use be unholy? In fact, to not use it, was that not churlish and ungrateful?
Thus I convinced myself, driven by my need. I painted late into the night our first embrace. Do not judge me harshly. It was no naked bacchanalian festival. I did not presume to draw or paint that most intimate and glorious of moments. No, instead, it is the embrace of two fully clothed men, the very moment after the declaration. It is the relief of loving and returned love, that wonderful sensation of stepping over the threshold into an entirely new and more welcome life. I would let nature take its course for the further and more intimate expressions of love – I wanted not to direct my beloved in this manner, I wanted to see his love in its natural form, as he would give it, not as a producer might elicit a passionate dance for a film.
After the painting was finished I gazed at it, long into the night, pouring all my hope and love and need into it, as though to further ensure its efficacy. Every other painting, even the one that allowed us to meet, was more an experiment. Had they failed I would have laughed to myself and returned to my lesser life a wiser man. But this – this – was more. This was everything. This was the beginning. This was also paradoxically, the full flowering of my power through my desire.
I could not bear for this to fail, for my art and my power to desert me. I could not bear it.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved