Gooseflesh prickles my skin. I shiver. It’s brutally cold lying nude while he paints. The only warmth comes from a small brazier of coal he puts by his easel to keep his oils from freezing. He opens the window a bit because the room fills with choking fumes. When he paints, the creative fire burning within warms him.
His black eyes glitter with inspiration as his cold-chapped hands hold brushes loaded with red, gray, white, yellow. Those hands never cease daubing, smearing, spreading colour as he recreates me on canvas. Hands that bring the bottle to his lips time after time as he studies what he’s painted. Those eyes that are hard, determined and see nothing but his vision.
"I have to use the pot," I say to him. He growls his consent. I step behind the screen, relieve myself in the chamber pot there.
He’s tearing off a piece of baguette when I emerge. The wine bottle was full when we began; it’s empty now, not three hours later.
"Bring me another bottle, Jeanne."
I try to caution him. We never begin before noon these days. He’s too sick from the wine to get out of bed earlier.
"I’m hungry, Modi, let me have a bite."
He thrusts the baguette at me. I swallow a bit of stale bread with a sip of the cheap wine. It burns all the way down, but warms my gut.
I return to the chaise longue and twist my body into the pose he wants.
I stare out the window as his hands and eyes again become the hard, mechanical tools of his genius. Northern light arcs across the rooftops as the day dwindles to dusk. Soon it will be too dark for him to paint.
He looks at me then and changes. His dark eyes become soft, liquid pools of desire. His paint-stained hands relax. He unbuttons his shirt and trousers, tosses them on the wooden table where we eat. Naked now he bids me follow him to our bed. His gaze travels down my body as I walk toward him.
We sink onto the stiff, uncovered mattress and pull a dirty blanket over our bodies. His eyes melt me. His hands stroke my skin. And he begins to create me again with those hands, those hands of his genius, hands of a Master.
Evelyn Jackson is retired, living in beautiful Livingston, MT. She writes in all genres, but has recently discovered flash fiction. Modigliani is her favourite painter. It's said that although he painted his lover, Jeanne Hubeterne, over twenty times, he never painted her in the nude. Or did he??
The Ekphrastic Review
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