Penny fell in love with a portrait artist. His name was Conrad, his medium watercolors.
Penny wasn’t attracted by his looks; he was extraordinarily ordinary. His personality hadn’t captured her heart, either; Conrad was a quiet man, an introvert, rather cold, in fact. “When I have something to say, I say it with my brush,” he had told her.
What she found so seductive was his artistic license. Someday, she hoped, he would paint her portrait. And when he did, he could render her without the jagged scar across her face. If he wanted to, he could. The man was a God, with his brushes, and masking, and pencils, and pigments; all of creation was in his hands. He could do this—and yet she knew he wouldn’t, and this is why she loved him.
Penny had watched Conrad work, and always he painted the truth, no matter how ugly. She recalled a woman with hundreds of moles on her neck, and how Conrad had covered her almost finished portrait with newspaper so that only the neck was exposed, dabbed an old toothbrush into his palette, and then flicked the bristles of the toothbrush, spattering the neck with sienna-colored spots. Just like God must have done.
Penny admired Conrad for including the woman’s moles, not painting them out of the picture, like many would have. This man, she was sure, would accept her and her scar.
The day arrived, as she had known it would, when Conrad asked if he could paint her, and of course she responded with an exuberant, “Yes, please.”
She sat for him, in a sun-speckled garden, goose bumps erupting on her skin as she watched his hands–the hands of a God–guiding the paint-drenched brush across the wet paper.
When his work was done, he leaned back and with a hand on his chin, inspected his creation. A nod of his head signifying his approval, he declared, “It’s finished. I hope you like it.”
Conrad asked Penny to close her eyes. She giggled with excitement when he took her hand and led her to his easel. “You can look now,” he said.
She opened her eyes and her smile faded. The scar wasn’t there. Where it should have been instead was flawless, rose-colored flesh. She touched her face.
“You left it out,” she said, shaking her head. “Why?”
He smiled. “I paint what I see.”
Penny could never love a man who saw her like that. With a cold and broken heart, she sent the bewildered artist-God away.
—RL Black is EIC of two online journals and her own writing has been published in journals across the web and in print. When she isn’t editing or writing, she watches her DVD collection of LOST.