I wake up the next morning a little passed eight. The ambience of the room is strangely languid. I’m alone in these unfamiliar sheets, in this unfamiliar room. A modicum of sunlight seeps in through the very slightly parted curtains. I peel the covers off of myself and sit up cross-legged in the bed, trying to listen out for any activity. I can’t hear much.
I reach for my phone, realise it’s out of battery, and so place it back on the bedside drawer. At a loss for anything to do, I simply lay back down and wait. A faint, weird mix of cheese and coffee wafts into the bedroom from the door.
She comes into the room a few moments later, gingerly opening the door.
“Oh, good. You’re awake,” she says with a smile. I sit up and smile, too. Her hair is tied up for the first time since I’d met her, and I notice her ears are very discreetly on the big side. Very discreetly.
I met her not two weeks ago. Given the pleasure of having Thursdays off, I try to make a habit of visiting different places or going somewhere I don’t go too often; new restaurants, the movies, art galleries, a relative’s – those kind of things. Sometimes I catch the train to nearby towns and get lost sight-seeing. Occasionally, I borrow my cousin’s car and go to the countryside. I simply sit in the car listening to psychedelic rock albums, and smoke while staring out at the field and the far-flung mountains. Just thinking.
This particular Thursday I happened to go to an art gallery. That’s where I first spotted her. She wore white trainers, loose, vintage Mom Jeans, a white crop-top beneath a maroon bomber jacket, and her left hand clasped a plain baseball cap. She stood out amidst everyone else who seemed to be dressed in smart-casual attire. She looked cool, at least I thought so.
When I saw her, she was staring intently at an acrylic painting in one remote corner. The painting was of an oldish man (maybe early 50s). It must have been a portrait. The painting captured the man’s top half as he gazed expressionlessly at the painter. A full head of black hair sat atop his head with streaks of white in it which marked his aging. He wore a grey smart shirt with the sleeves rolled up and two or three buttons undone. His hairy arms drooped lazily into his lap. A brown wall for the background. And that’s it. She stood there for a considerable amount of time just gawking at it, motionlessly.
I approached her, and stared into the painting also. It took no more than 30 seconds to scan all the details of the painting satisfyingly enough to move on. But she remained there with her arms hanging beside her and her eyes glued. An unchanging posture. Maybe she could see something I couldn’t. The painting was ‘of Gillis Alfons‘ by ‘French painter, L. Borde.‘ Strangely, the piece didn’t have a name, Perhaps it was never given one.
“Visser in Grijs,” she said, suddenly. Randomly. I turned my head instantly towards her.
“Sorry?” the only response my mind could reason to give after not having understood the meaning of what she’d said.
“The painting – it’s called Visser in Grijs.” Apparently I’d wondered out loud. Now that I think about it, how often do I wonder aloud like that? A somewhat worrying thought.
I caught the gaze of her grey-blue eyes. Gentle eyes. The type that possess a subtle but alluring glow. My lips remained slightly parted for some five seconds before I said,
“Oh? Is that so? Interesting,” not knowing what else to say.
“It’s Dutch for Fisherman in grey.”
“Really? How d’you know that?” I asked. “I mean, like, it’s not labelled with a title like all the other pieces in here.”
She told me she had seen the painting before when she was doing a case study on L. Borde. No wonder you seem so infatuated by it, I said to her. We talked briefly more about artists and various paintings. She then told me how she’d come from Germany a few months ago, and was studying in London for a year before moving back to Germany. Once she said this, her subtle German accent became a little more noticeable.
She is studying contemporary art at a private school for individuals aged 18 and above. The course offers no valid qualifications but one is to receive greatly efficient and useful insight from it, resulting in a very handsome CV for one looking to enter the industry of contemporary art.