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The Sitter

250 word short story

Sitting for him gave me purpose and an elevation from my humdrum life. The smell of linseed, the meditative rustle of hog’s hair scrubbing and refining the painting’s surface. Teasing the life out of me and onto the meticulously prepared canvas.

I took great pride in my ability to remain perfectly static for him. The stillest of still lifes: myself, the jug, and the yellow light.

He talked sweetly to me during the stretches of the afternoons, more attentive than my mother and brothers at home with their chores and mundanities. He saw me. Not just superficially but the soul beneath the flaxen plaits, with the gross patina of the farm on my hands. His tenderness was real and when he stroked my hair, he called me “My divinity: Idun the eternal one.”

He often spoke of immortality as he consumed my youth and yearning through those magic, golden afternoons. In return I drank the draught that he prepared for me each day without inquiry. Total trust.

The weakness came on slowly, a ghost of fatigue tracking me relentlessly through the onset of the calescent summer days. My body felt waxy, and mother commented on my pink rimmed eyes. I still made the sittings but felt less able to remain in place with each passing day.

It was on a Sunday that I finally failed to rise, giving in to the damp sleep-hands that held me to the sodden cot. My mother’s wails fell only on my dead ears.

His words to me were true though, he made me a goddess, adored and worships in the salons of Europe and beyond. Every day since the picture went on show I have watched the watchers; squinting up from the poured milk to meet their gaze.

Immobile, immortal, deified.

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