I got up for dinner and ate quietly with my parents. They kept up a polite chatter of irrelevant banalities. I don't think I said two words. Then I went back up to my room and stayed there for the rest of the evening. They didn't intrude to say good night. They went to bed around 11:30.
I listened to some classical music on the radio and lay in bed in darkness for a long time. When the station went off the air, I turned the dial until I picked up an extremely weak signal. It was a religious station from somewhere in Virginia. I left it on because of the way it kept fading in and out, which sort of hypnotized me. I didn't actually listen to the words of the sermon, just the absurd, tinny voice against the background of static. My eyes were closed, but I don't think I actually fell asleep. I was more like in a trance of morbid introspection.
When I next looked at the clock, it was 3:00 a.m. I turned off the radio. The house was completely quiet. I could hear the air conditioner next door again. I looked out the window and tried to see the stars, but with the street lights and the limited view, it was hard to see them. I put on my slippers and walked as softly as I could downstairs to the basement. I put on the light and looked around. It was the way it had been before Cathy came, except that the table and chairs were unfolded, and a clean, dry cup was on the drainboard.
But Cathy had left something behind. It was the print of Van Gogh's Starry Night, which was still taped to the wall above the bed. The sky is a dark greenish blue, the water a royal blue. The town is a rough outline of blue and violet. Its patchy lights are yellow along the shore, and their reflections in the water begin with gold and transform to greenish bronze. The stars above are spiny patches of green and pink. They form the constellation of the Great Bear. In the foreground, on the near bank of the river, are the figures of a man and a woman — lovers — drawn in dark blue- black strokes that blend together. They are alone on a starry night in a setting of ideal tranquility, sharing a moment of sublime and inexpressible happiness.
by Crad Kilodney, an excerpt from the novella Cathy, 1985
The Ekphrastic Review
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