cherie

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

an artist becomes too attached to his work.

“Damien,” my wife said, “Will you give it up, already? You’ve been at it for two weeks.”

“Not now. Let me finish this painting.”

“Your daughter misses you.”

As if on cue, Mary on the other side of the house began practicing her violin. It wasn’t even a top-quality violin. We’d found it at a garage sale, barely holding together. Combine that with being played by a 9-year-old who had just recently started lessons, and the screeching made it hard to focus on the present conversation with Clarisse, let alone the art that both were distracting me from.

I had always been told that I was too obsessed with my work. I’d paint a person or creature, and begin feeling that it was a real thing. I couldn’t just put them away and neglect them. This one in particular, this person that had popped into my head one day. When I went to painting like I normally do, I felt that I had to get this one just right. Every detail had to be perfect. Who was this woman I’d painted?

I’ve named her Cherie. It was initially just a facial portrait. Then, I was going to just paint a picture of our living room, but as I was outlining the small rocking chair in the corner, I realized that I wanted to have someone sitting in the chair. I at first thought about Mary, who loved playing on it, to the point of knocking it over several times a week. Mary kindly agreed to model for me, putting on her best ‘princess’ dress and sitting still like it’s hard to get kids to do, but instead, I ended up painting Cherie again. I couldn’t explain that to Mary, nor to Clarisse.

Next, I tried something simple: A photo of a turtle from the internet. As I painted it, I felt the need to paint someone riding the turtle, as if it were horse-sized. That person ended up being Cherie as well. After that, I couldn’t paint at all without including Cherie. I tried asking Clarisse if it looked like anyone we knew, looking through my social media and browsing history to see where the face came from, but I’d created it out of thin air. Cherie was fictional, and she was beautiful. My urge to paint grew stronger every day.

Strange feelings went through me when I saw that face. While Clarisse tried to coerce me into at least eating supper with them, that’s when it hit me: I had fallen in love with the person I’d created. Cherie didn’t exist. She may never exist, but she’s now solidly in my heart and playing with my mind. I cried. Didn’t I love my daughter and my wife? How could I put this before them? Why did all other things no longer seem important?

I put the painting down, not saying anything to Clarisse. I walked out of my studio while she called Mary to wash her hands. As I passed the threshold, I heard a soft, enticing voice, not belonging to either of the people I lived with, whispering to me.

“Damien, please.”


Submitted: September 10, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Mutant Llama. All rights reserved.

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