We may have known each other forever, yet having never sat as subject for one of Mason’s paintings, I had no clue what the hell I was doing. Butt-numbing, cross-legged in a chair I offered to do something more inspiring but he insisted it was “fine”. I’d been witness to Mason’s greatness and the lack of activity on the canvas in front of him told me I was no muse.
Shifting to small talk in hopes of making me relax, I responded with short answers as each ragged breath whispered of a lost cause. Truly, I was doing my best to cover my nerves by staring at the wall only ten feet in front of me, but this only seemed to distract his concentration more.
My yawn broke the swollen silence.
Mason laughed. “Late night?”
“Nah,” nothing in the way he suggested. “Crappy sleep. Odd dreams.”
“Oh yeah? About what?”
“Mmm,” I shrugged trying to remember its details, “nothing horrifying. Just some…creature-like thing following me around. No matter where I went it was always in my face, not letting me go anywhere, not saying anything, not doing anything, just always there harassing me.”
“I’m sure it means something.”
“I’m sure it doesn’t.” My turn to laugh. “It wasn’t a person, like unconsciously someone I knew. More like an entity, no body, no appendages. All I could see was its face in mine, the rest of it in shadow. I wanted to get rid of it but I didn’t know how. It was everywhere I turned.”
Silence.
Risking a glance at Mason, I saw that he look he gets when he’s in his head, blank-stared all his surroundings unimportant next to whatever he was seeing.
When it continued my awkwardness with it grew and I had to say something. “A professional would at least feign interest,” I joked knowing he wasn’t truly ignoring me.
His stare broke. “I am.” Without further explanation, Mason got to work, his paint brush finding his colours and working the canvas with whatever he saw.
A furious drive took him over as a smile crossed my face. When he happened to look at me as if comparing his work to what was supposed to be his still life model, I pulled my attention from him and resumed my position looking at the wall.
Mason was really quiet now. A few ties I thought to broach a subject but didn’t want to spoil his zone.
The heady fumes of the paint in my lungs got to my brain and a faint headache knotted between my brows. Suddenly, Mason’s voice snapped him out of his daze. “Done,” was all he said.
“Really? Can I see?”
He nodded, his eyes never leaving the canvas.
Stiff from sitting so long I rounded him in my cold bare feet to look over his shoulder. “Oh my god.” What was I looking at?
“I know it’s not what we discussed…”
“What is it?” I asked trying not to sound judgmental just taken aback by the final result and admittedly unsure if I liked what I saw.
“When you spoke of the dream an idea hit and I went with it.” When I still hadn’t said anything he went on. “In your dream you’re scared, unarmed and doing everything to run. That doesn’t fit how I see you, so I changed it.”
In the painting I sat as I had been for hours but the creature was in my face. Instead of cowering, Mason sat me there confidently unruffled by the creature’s presence, armed with a knife as if simply calling on the creature to do its worst. The look on my face was so calm. I don’t think I’ve ever had the view, not in a mirror or in any moment of self-reflection I could envision.
For a long I’d known Mason to be a great artist. Only now did I realize how amazing a person he was. In a risky moment the normal me would never have taken, I grabbed hold of Mason’s strong jaw and twisted it to mine as I laid my lips on his, wondering why I had never done this before. A moment of hesitation passed but only in shock before he responded in a way she was happy for, yet judging by how fevered his kiss became, made me realized he had wanted to do for some time.
I may never see myself the way the painting illustrated but Mason opened my eyes at what he saw when he looked at me and what I saw looking back. I let my kiss say this for me not even caring when his paint covered fingers threaded into my hair.

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