I fell in love with the painter’s paintings, through his figures immersed in shadow. I watched the canvases in motion outside his room, dark and ethereal, depicting stories of pain floating off into heavenly light. I saw his hands at work, tarnished with thick, deep pigment, ever floating, fast, and strong. I watched as his brush worked quick motions over a swatch of a face, and in an instant I knew the woman on that canvas. I knew the woman he had invented in vermilion, because I knew her heart; I knew her sad, long crimson eyes.
I watched his work for years, ever moved by the motions he could make with a brush, wondering how he could move my hand if ever he chose to touch it.
I watched the painter, working beside him at last as I gained more skill, and I stared into the abyss of his hands. How they captivated me for hours and hours. His hands. I abandoned my work to make studies of his frame, hunched over the dirty brown clay from which he was building his head in relief. I sketched him sculpting out the intimate details that make an object -- a carving -- a person. I watched the painter, and I made him my own, placing him into yet another painting of a painting to hang on my wall for forever, a reminder that I once saw a man make something beautiful without tearing it apart.
The paintings? I fell in love with his paintings immediately. The painter ... that took longer.
I never spoke a word. No, not to him. I let him live in images instead. I let him live on as but an image of himself: the painter and his hands etched in memory.