I wrote this piece during my first year of university and have since edited it. I wrote this in response to Jean Rhys short story ‘Tea with an Artist’, undertaking the portraits muse as my character. I loved writing in the narration of a prostitute and honestly maybe one day I will expand upon this little piece. Hope you enjoy.
I knocked three times then a fourth, my knuckles rapped against the wooden panel that he called a door. I knew that he wouldn’t answer until the fourth knock, hearing the familiar rustling within before the door finally opened and I was graced to be allowed inside. Stepping inside as I had done persistently over the past months, now feeling entombed in the large room as the various canvasbacks surrounded me.
Today I’d see the portrait, the portrait in which he intended to capture me, his fallen woman with a soul. The portrait was meant to be a capture of my essence to remain painted and etched into the canvas for all of time. He of course was oblivious to my distrust of him, an Artist whom refused to sell his painting to keep them selfishly, perhaps his arrogance blinded him. Blinded him into the belief he would receive the praise regardless or perhaps… Perhaps his arrogance blinded him into believing that he had any talent at all.
Verhausen seated me in the chair before handing me a tall glass of vin rouge château and urging me to drink. He acted that as a fallen woman I would be appreciative of his precious wine, not knowing I had clients that not only had a better quality of wine but a much higher status. Cradling it in my hand after my first sip, I glanced up seeing him stand there and scrutinise me through those blue eyes which were hidden behind his spectacles. Shaking his head he sat opposite me in silence, perhaps these were how our meetings always preceded, the unmoving stares between us before I’d look him up and down. His waistcoat as ever spotted with the reminiscences of his many meals, wearing them as if a medal, pig as he is.
At first it was my job, my profession, to please him keep him content and happy with my presence but then he carefully wanted more. His hands which often clung to pieces of flesh, cloth, bedding, me, pulled away and became attached to a canvas. I don’t think it was that he had no need of me but it was his want of me which drove him to it. To attempt to possess me in a form unlike no other. Little did I know that this was him, the arrogance which he held proudly as if to be a medal of honour blinded him into believing his wants and needs should be met, without exception… Yet I could’ve walked away but I’m not stupid enough to do that not when there was good money to be gained or perhaps I was growing fond of his narcissistic attitude.
After he was finished with me, my coat draped upon my shoulders was when he revealed what he believed to be an essence of my being. I saw myself perched upon his sofa, the mirrors which he had embellished in order to reflect the green liquor which I had held in my hand. Smirking I begin to see what he believed to be me, each time I came there were spirits which he’d present to me. Clear as day the reflections of the one glass came to me what was he attempting to say, the little alcohol he supplied was my world? Ha, he was deluded. I saw what he’d done made me appear tired and heavy, through that was only how I was when I was near him. My effort to keep him all smiles had worn my patience it had seemed but no more… His arrogance had overcome me for the last time.
Which is when I turned, seeing his face close to mine with the eagerness of a child to receive the praise in which he felt he deserved. I smiled and nodded before applauding, though he did not detect my mocking. Then it was time to take my leave knowing that I’d not return but rather pity the next whom taken to be his muse. Before I left however, I picked up those coins which lay beside the tall glass of vin rouge knowing that the rest would remain untouched or washed away down his throat which would of course push his arrogance once more for he congratulate himself on the painting believing he had capture me. The belief was his that for all his women with whom he found to have souls not one of them had he been able to en-capture in any of his portraits for he did not know us but only knew our lack of patience in his petty company.