Too late a god understands that free will has a hidden sting. I wonder if the original god, who created all of our world, found a similar regret when his creations had inner lives, not just outer. Like me perhaps, this original deity had principles no doubt, and beliefs and some form of self-regulation. And in so doing perhaps a certain unconscious arrogance is surfaced – the belief that within those confines people will actually do as you will, and not just a pale approximation of such which is then something quite other.
In the Garden, I think perhaps, the apple was meant as a symbol only, and god did not count on curiosity. Positioned high on a tree it was a form of art, like mine, and meant for something quite other than what it was eventually put to use for – something quite other indeed.
God knew too late, as did I, as did all of mankind. Knowing too late, that’s the precipice of every tragedy in life.
I was smug, I was excited, I was certain of so much. So when my beloved Richard came to call I only wondered how we would move from friends to lovers, and not if that would occur. Had I not painted our first wonderful embrace and did not everything I paint come to be?
Well yes, it did, but not as I had imagined.
Richard is flush with excitement the moment he enters the studio, and foolishly I think he may make a declaration in this very moment, running to my arms. And if he does, although I have painted it, I also assure myself it is true, it is real, and has arisen from the deep intimacy already established, quite genuinely, between us.
I think I will faint at his first words, swoon as a young lover might, and he must speak soon, soon!
– Paul, I have such news! Such news!
Yet even with these first words some incongruity arises, some slight flutter of dismay and unease. Are these the opening words of a lover?
– I have not dared to tell you, not dared to tell anyone, it is so fast and so perfect! But now I know my affections are returned I feel I can speak!
He has read my love in my kindness, my concern, my intimate care! In any moment, my joy will be complete.
– I am in love Peter! I met a girl only weeks ago, and it was love at first sight! I cannot even begin to say, but she feels it too, she told me last night, and I am so happy! So happy! Oh my dear friend, we are to be wed, so soon!
And as the completely alien message starts to sink in he is indeed in my arms, hugging me close, so happy he cannot contain it and must share his joy with me, his dear, dear…friend.
The painting has come alive, quite perfect in s vision, but completely imperfect in its import. Free will! I have not counted on the life that one leads away from the dictates of the canvas! I have not counted on that, and I have not put it in my calculations. And now as he embraces me, as I dreamed, it is completely unlike how I have dreamed it. Completely unlike.
– Richard, that is wonderful news, wonderful.
I have to say it, though my heart is breaking so fast and hard I think I will indeed faint, but with despair, not joy as I had expected. Free will, it is my undoing, it is the undoing of everything. I can paint a world and make it be on the outside, but I cannot also make it so on the inside.
And if this, in some bleak way, confirms that any real affection between Richard and I is genuine, for I could not paint his caring, his liking of me, it is only that: the smallest and most bitter of consolations. Liking. It will never be more. I cannot paint that changing without something much more extreme, much more intimate, to the point of obscenity. Yes, I could paint us at lovers, naked and within each other’s embrace far more intimately, and I could make that be, but in these circumstances what could that be but rape?
What has any of this been, in reality, other than a type of rape? I am ashamed in his sudden realisation. I cannot do that. And in any case, what would that do to my dear Richard, and his new love?
His new love. A thought occurs, so brief and unformed I barely know my own motives.
– Do you have a photo of your new love? Can I see what this paragon looks like?
– Oh yes, oh yes! Perhaps you might paint her someday?
Perhaps I may indeed.
He shows me the photo, a picture of a lovely, smiling, blonde girl with perfect facial symmetry and youth. Such youth. I can see her full, see her whole, from this one picture.
I can see her quite well enough to paint.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved