“Duke, I’ve had it, okay? I’ve spent the best years of my life, slaving away for you! I gave up a great deal of things, tonight is all I have left of my former life. I plan to take it. If you have an ounce of self-preservation, you’ll clean up this mess you call paradise-before I set foot here again.” Gilana swept from the staircase to the front door. Her somber evening gown flowed behind her, the door nearly closing on her violin case.
Duke sighed. “I never told you to give up anything.” He muttered, with a grunt of effort, he shifted his weight from the recliner upwards, positioning the cast of his left leg. “A fellow busts his leg and the world goes out of whack.”
He limped to the kitchen table, lined with newsprint. Various tubes and cans of paint adorned the surface, brushes lay neatly beside them. Duke smiled, faintly. “She doesn’t understand the artist in me.” He told the unfinished painting. “She’s beautiful, brilliant and talented.” He dipped two fingers in the murky bowl of water. “But she can’t understand the artist in me.”
Wiping his fingers on his art smock, he gathered the brushes together. The tips were still wet, they needed to air-dry. Setting them aside, he took the bowl of water. “Paper towel.” He mumbled, heading for the kitchen sink.
His cast hooked on the chair leg and Duke came tumbling down. The fall hurt less than he’d expected, but the bowl of water spattered on every surface imaginable. He stifled a groan, reaching for the bowl. “Paper towels…and a sponge.”
Hours later, the mess was beginning to clear, when the phone rang. Duke admired his careful work as he answered it.
Minutes later, he was chatting with Bobby, his college roommate he hadn’t seen in years. “…I know what you mean, Bobby…I’ll call you back?” Duke hung up the phone without waiting for an answer.
The last piece of inspiration had finally clicked. He headed for the table, easing himself into a chair. Reaching for the brushes, he dipped them into creativity, continuing the masterpiece.
Duke became so absorbed in his work, he almost forgot to answer the doorbell. The insistent ringing broke through the imaginary veil and jerking to his feet, he headed for the door.
Gilana stood on the front stoop, cradling her violin. Her face was hopeful as he peered through the peephole, but when he opened the door, all traces of happiness vanished. “Gil!” He exclaimed. “Guess what? I’ve almost finished the painting…Gil?”
Two solitary tears trickled down her powdered face as she stared over his shoulder. Duke followed her gaze to the messy kitchen table and the telltale smears of the dirty water.
She sniffled, brushing away the tears with trembling fingers. “So I see. Congratulations Duke, you’ve finished your painting…and I’m finished with you.” A sob escaped. “I can’t bear to be apart from you, but I can’t stand to be with you anymore…I’m sorry.”
I enjoyed this story very much. You held my attention, and I knew to anticipate something at the end. I'm a bit new to this, but I thought the fall could have been emphasized a bit more, and was a bit confused with the phone call. Nicely written and an easy pace to follow!
Interesting topic, two artists in their own fields who, one might assume, should understand each other.
If this is part of a larger work, then that would answer the question I'm left with: Why now? What has triggered her ultimatum, especially since she admits she cannot live without Duke?
You peeked (or is that "peaked?") my curiosity :)