He lies on his bed, her letter, twice-read, folded on his chest. Hey, you, with your gas-jet eyes, tell me more about your art.
He likes to think of her as she wrote herself in the letter, her hands blue with dried paint. Her hands blue with dried paint and unbuttoning, unbuttoning. He likes to think of her as an artist. He hasn't seen any of her work, but this is irrelevant. Sitting up, he opens his notebook to a fresh page.
If I could draw, he writes, I would buy a sketchbook and fill it with the remembered contours of your body, the swell of your breasts, the turns of your thighs, in pencil, charcoal, ink, over and over for pages and pages so that anybody finding it would think me a terrible, fixated deviant (and would be right).
He looks at the sentence, too-long and too-lofty, and consigns the page to the wastebasket with a satisfying tear and crumple. Her letter he slips back into its envelope and drops in the open drawer of his nightstand. He's always kept the envelopes.
He thinks of her wearing dark red lipstick and a jaunty hat, dashing between gallery and studio in a hurry. He thinks of her standing flushed and nearly nude before large, half-finished canvasses.
The last time he saw her she wore a pale green sweater and a pair of purple high-tops. She dressed - probably still does - like an explosion at the Baby Gap factory, grabbing clothing at random with little regard for clashing colours. The kind of girl who tries too hard to be eccentric and ends up an eyesore. Maybe she's colourblind, he thinks. Once, she combined four entirely different shades of red in the same outfit - dress, stockings, matronly cardigan, scarf, ranging from crimson to pastel. He remembers that, dancing with her in that embarassing outfit, the way she reminded him of a bleary-eyed kindergartener playing an imp in her school pageant. This is a reality in which he is wholly uninterested.
He closes his eyes and thinks harder about the jaunty hat, the lipstick, the gallery. He clothes her in smart boots and presses her wild hair into smooth curls. He unbuckles his belt and thinks of her hands.
He'll write her back tomorrow, he decides lamely, and ask about her art.