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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

A mad woman becomes the muse of an artist who leaves her to eat mud and sully herself. Eventually his friend, a psychiatrist advises him to get her medicated and pull her from the streets. The
woman transforms into a beautiful woman who entices the artist. Soon love cannot survive the two worlds of the woman and she flees back to the mountains while the artist is left to choose whether
to pursue her or not.

Submitted: December 15, 2017

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Submitted: December 15, 2017





She fascinated him. The artist and his muse. In their world she was allowed to be herself, warped and twisted and crumpling. She was allowed to be herself and he allowed himself to be drawn to that inner core he presumed to be her own self, entirely. Oh, she was evil. She still knew how to seduce a man, licking her lips wet with her tongue. And then she would laugh, chiding him with a laughter that was eerily like a witch sampling her design on a man.

Is she beautiful? To the artist, Kotinko: yes, most definitely, the most beautiful witch he has ever claimed. He would lock her up in a cage if he could. But he wanted to see her, move about with her skirts trailing behind her like the tail of a rattlesnake. He wanted to see her in her natural state. And in the most ultimate betrayal of the woman, Walice by whom he called her, would be painted in portraits depicting her madness: a wisp, a knot at the core, her maniacal confusion. Then he would give her water, soft food that dripped from her mouth like a baby learning to eat her first solid food.

Kotinko found her worming about the thoroughfares of Baguio City and thought: am I the only one who can see her. Everyone avoided her soil herself, pick on the garbage, paint her face with the delicious red mud after a storm. And she ate it, red mud cakes that made her stomach ache and vomit.

He had recently reigned over Baguio himself. He was the new King of the Arts in the Philippines and he had chosen the cool, high altitude of Baguio mountains to work again.

The betrayal was simply this. Why wouldn’t he just take care of her needs. Maybe , given medicines she can be resuscitated. Perhaps, the artist was exploiting the woman for his own artistic ends. Perhaps he will, eventually. But why stall her eventual recovery. It didn’t seem fair. But then again, no one really cared.

They were beautiful paintings of Walice. She danced and gripped and fell laughing into





the mud. She was his ballerina, she was holding his tightrope for dear life and she fell without fear.

A regular in the house of Kotinko was Dr. Benjamin Vista, a psychiatrist. Nights were spent with good lambanog to drink with cigars with their spiralling smoke going up into the air as part of their conversation. They talked about her as though she were there between them like a holograph. They studied her and prodded on ideas as to who she was.

They say, the good doctor said, she is the daughter of a rice merchant; a rare merchant in this part of the country with hardly anywhere to plant rice but to carve terraces about the mountains.

How did she grow mad? Kontinko asked

I believe she was ridden of her virginity by an act of the highest impropriety by her lover, a general who married someone else after having done with her.

Why would he leave her? Kotinko continued to ask.

Because she was already mad. He must have discovered she was truly mad.

How was she considered mad?

Perhaps she would forget things, things of import between lovers. Perhaps he wanted her soul and couldn’t find it. Perhaps she had been unfaithful. There were rumours of a man from the mainland City of Manila whom she met at the Burnham Park. They would meet beneath eaves of willowing trees

Kotinko continued visiting her. He would usually find her at Burnham Park. He would ride his great big, black bike and drop by to see her. She smelled of the sewer and her hair was matted with mud and water. When she saw him she would coil herself in reprise until he gave



her an offering of bread. She took the clean bread and ate it with unashamed glutton. Then he would take out his sketch pad and make drawings of her.

Finally he capitulated and brought her to the clinic of Dr. Ben.

I am done with her, he said sparing himself the sentimentality of what he was about to do. Clean her, medicate her and keep her out of the streets.

The doctor bowed to obey.

A few days later, Kotinko came back with dollops of strawberry jam in a jar. Walice sat in the terrace dressed in a fresh blue dress with white flowers. Cleaned up from the grime, she was indeed beautiful.

Kotinko was taken aback. He knew she was beautiful but how far he didn’t know. She was like a diamond whose beauty went deeply into a cavern of dimensions. Her raven black hair was tied back to reveal her face so perfectly etched in features that was like a well cut gem.

He tried talking to her during the whole afternoon but she was shy beyond relief. She spoke in monosyllables. A few yes, a few nos. Oh but she was fragrant like a jasmine flower with a newly found innocence, as though someone who had recently woken up. He was afraid to even touch her, this ice princess who wanted nothing more than to smile at him, not recognizing him at all.

She seemed young although he had remembered he had assumed she was something nearing her thirties.

Now what was he to do with her? Keep her and paint her and bring her to the Pink sisters congregation in the valley so that she would forever be well-maintained and never have to be touched again by the rigors of life.




He held her hand and she did not take it away from him. This bothered him as he realized she would be just as open with her shy smiles and touch to anyone who would show some semblance of kindness. Oh, she was still a witch. Only she was more dangerous now because now, he was fast falling in love with her.

She looked at the hand he offered and he was excited by the softness of her hands. The doctor had a majordoma who took care of the poor woman. Elena. Elena rubbed expensive lotion to Walice’s hands and as the days passed her hands softened since it was roughened by her days sitting beneath pine trees and running her hands on the surface of the red earth.

That night, Kotinko couldn’t sleep.

He was frustrated. He didn’t know how to handle this new essence of a woman who appeared before him. He was angry without knowing why and so he undressed his shirt and started to paint violent colours with a sweating chest and back. He could not have done a better Pollock for he painted what he desired to release an anger whose source he did not know where it was rooted from.

The next day, he had to return after a sleepless night painting, painting, painting as a man. Once he had preyed upon Walice but now he felt as though he were being preyed upon by this woman who did not even lift a finger to do so but was doing it anyway.

Today as she sat in the terrace, she wore a mint green dress with lace edging. She seemed to understand things as she became more and more medicated by the days. She was now remembering another life. If tipped to the other side of the balance, she could go back to who she was. As of the moment she seemed afraid of knowing that other life she had experienced.

Kotinko assured her that he was there, to help her in any way he can. Nonetheless he showed her his paintings of her during those days. She looked at them and her eyes quivered




with unshed tears. Finally tears fell from her eyes which glistened as though cleansed. She embraced him and he embraced her back. They kissed. He became afraid of what he had done, as though he had traversed a boundary he should never have. Kissing her seemed to transform everything from night to day.

He talked to Dr. Ben and asked him for her medication and assured him that he would take care of her from now on.

The doctor didn’t seem certain this was the right way. He was adamant she was still in the process of healing and that it was not yet complete. But Kotinko seemed like a dog bitten  with rabies now soaring inside him and making him act in a way that he could not control. And so the doctor capitulated but telling Kotinko that it was still a non-consensual act between them because she had not fully recovered and did not have the mind to decide on matters of love.

Kotinko led her to his jeep and brought her to his home.

She looked round and round at the giant canvasses of his paintings and how they seemed to reach the top of his ceiling. When he painted he was like a man possessed and now that his muse was here he had decided to paint her.

She sat on a garden chair and was looking at the sky and the green surface of mountains. He drew her profile. She was pensive and very silent.

Looking at drawings of her was different from seeing paintings of herself, so huge and powerful in their depiction of her conflicted inner self. She saw images of herself as a deranged woman and it all came back to her.

She became disturbed all of a sudden and started screaming. Kotinko toppled down all





the paintings and ran towards Walice. He embraced her. He hushed her down and gave her some pills to take. She calmed down but looked at him with pain in her eyes.

It was terrible bringing her here. But he was decided to take her home. Finally she fell asleep.


When she awoke, she found him lying by the foot of the bed, without a shirt on despite the cold morning seeping through the banisters of the windows. She remembered everything now and felt lucky to be alive and well. She owed all this to this man who slept on the floor and gave her his bed.

He stirred and found her watching the mountains through the window. He stood up and even though he knew that she knew he was behind her, he came over with a woven blanket about his shoulders and kissed the back of her neck. He had gone through a night stifling a desire to touch her but he dared not for fear of losing her again.

He left his head at the lower nape of her neck and breathed.

I love you Walice.

She turned and smiled in that half smile of hers that seemed almost derisive.

He taught her how to make pancakes and she laughed as he flip flopped the pancake on the pan. He picked some long-stemmed flowers from the garden and placed them on a vase. She stared at them and as though she had not seen anything so beautiful. She easily felt all of these gestures were for her and she was pleased although wondering what she could have done to deserve such attention.

He gave her medicines to drink so that she was regulated. He drove her around town and




she developed a liking for silver. She wore silver bracelets and they glistened beneath the sun as they drove through roads with fields of strawberries on either side.

Finally, home they kissed and instinctively, she arched and offered herself to him. He felt masterful and possessed her. He knelt on the bed and she bent backwards to lay bare her body before him as he released her from her dress’ frivolous ribbons.

That night, she learned what passion was like. It was something that reached her core and there was no turning back unless she chose to forget again and run away.

He opened his gallery again and tried to fetch a good score for his paintings. It was titled the Walice series. She sat among the guests who were seated on chairs talking among themselves and not minding her. They couldn’t begin to imagine it was her on those paintings. Walice thought, he must sell them in order for them to get through the cold months ahead or they would be tearing up books to light up fireplace inside the house.

Then, from the corner of her eye she saw her, a girl with fine, tidy hair reach up and kiss his cheek. It was an innocent enough kiss but it meant a lot. It meant he had a life before her and that he could continue such a life if only she weren’t here, felt Walice. Perhaps he got tired of this beautiful woman too. But the woman can stand on her own two feet despite his roving eye. How could she even dared contemplate he would love her forever, Walice thought of herself. Fire soared within her and she felt her lips dry with an inner fire that coursed through her. She felt the first pangs of jealousy and was hurt beyond relief. She stood up and walked past the gallery towards the sliding doors. She looked at the mountains and looked back. He was laughing at what the girl was saying. The woman arched for him and Walice could almost see him lower down and kiss the valley of her breasts.

She looked towards the woods, the tall pine trees and how they turned a sad sort of green





when the rains fell. She removed her shoes and ran towards the woods. She was never seen again.

Some say the wood cutters would find her among the pine woods walking about wearing little else but the white dress she wore the last time she was at the gallery.

Some say they could hear her crying softly like the stream inside the woods. They would see her bathing and collecting stones. They assumed she had a house somewhere inside the woods, perhaps an abandoned hut from an old woodcutter.

Kotinko never stopped looking for her but she was evasive. This was her skill, to meld with the woods and breathe with the woods so that even her breath was part of mountains. Finally, Kotinko went mad with grief and stripped himself of his clothes. He ran to the woods and learned to live like her, like the tribes of the mountains. He became part of the mountains and found her again. This time they never came back.


© Copyright 2019 marie aranas. All rights reserved.

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