The Apprentice (Part III)

The gentle strumming lulls Edward into a trance, as he remembers passing the nearby street corner for the first time.  Back when he had a job hanging paintings, before his hair had grown long and grey.  He was visiting the apartment of an artist to transport a piece that had been sold to a private collector.  Upon entering the space, he was overwhelmed by the magnitude of paintings, the faces that lined the walls.  In front of the distant window sat the beautiful painter, huddled in his grey sweater, drinking tea from a bone china cup, gazing down below. 

He was the eyes of the building, of the street.  Eternally at his easel, recording the lives of the people below.  It was his passion, his obsession that drew Edward in and compelled him to return again and again to the shadowy apartment.  The solitary painter welcomed his presence, adding an extra cup to his daily tea service, as the two engaged in conversation, their charming words passing between the Earl Grey steam.  Edward would sit and watch him paint, occasionally venturing over to the easel, letting the painter guide his brushstrokes as they documented life in swirls and blobs of pigment.  As he became increasingly infatuated, Edward began to paint the painter.  Slowly he became a part of the building too.   

Over time, the painter began to fade, his brush drooping in his wilting hand.  When he eventually slipped away, Edward became his namesake, continuing the sleepless project that had no end.  Periodically when the sky turns black, Edward relinquishes control of his eyelids and wanders dead-eyed around the apartment talking to the phantom, reviving and reliving the comatose memories of their life together.

Edward shudders from a cool breeze sneaking through the cracked-open window as he closes his sweater tighter around his body.  The smell of sweet smoke rouses him from his perch as he peeks out.  He cranes his neck and tilts his head to see a hand hovering outside of the adjacent window holding the smoke-streaming cigarillo.  Edward stands back and watches the delicate rivulets of smoke swirl and slither past his window.  He sits down at the easel and endeavors to create a sketch but as soon as the delicate patterns form they disappear, dissolving into the dark sky.

-AJS

Featured Image Credit:  Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889 (MoMA)

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