The Night Study
A Danish painter is driven into exile by his father. But he can never escape the chains of the family's dark secrets. "I watched the face of the man who could destroy me and, even then, I remember thinking what a fine composition this room would make. The mighty bookcases indistinct in the darkness, the fire in the grate, illuminating the faces of the two men drinking but clearly having no care or regard for each other. I had never been good enough for my father but I could always trust my younger sister to act as a bridge between him and me. It was to her that I could show my paintings, before my father destroyed them. When my father insisted that I go into the family business, that was when I knew I had to leave. But at regular intervals I would row over the lake to see her when my father was away. When she told me he was making her marry his old business partner I wanted to go and confront him but I did not really have the courage and was too easily persuaded by my sweet sister not to do anything. On the night of the wedding I stayed on the other side of the lake, looking at my old home lit up in festivity. As the music died I rowed over to where I knew my sister would be waiting. That night we said our last farewells, for the next day she would be leaving for Copenhagen. I knew the composition we made was beautiful. Angrily I threw myself into painting, feeding on my melancholy. I tried a palette of blacks and greys but could not cope with these. Instead I painted the summer fields of my childhood, all greens and yellows and a bright blue sky. I despised my weakness. Even more so when I was taken up by the London art market, my bright daubs becoming popular with the bourgeoisie because enough influential critics liked them..."
More Than Cold
Some things are better left unfound. "Mark yawned, sipped his fourth cup of coffee of the night and found that familiarity was breeding contempt. This instant shit was just about tolerable out on the rigs, but he’d hoped for more from his first night of leave in over six weeks. Some company would have been a start. Kate was supposed to have been there well before him, making the place homely, stocking the cupboards with fresh food, good wine, good beer and he had hoped, good coffee. Not that he gave a shit about groceries at the moment. She was late. Really late. The supposedly cosy interior of their rented cottage was seeming lonelier by the minute and the empty chair on the other side of the kitchen table just amplified the effect. The nature of his work meant they had to deal with long periods of separation at times but it was an agreed rule that neither of them would ever lengthen that absence if it could be avoided. More than that, the thing that was really nagging at him was that generally Kate, like many so others he supposed, was barely able to let a minute pass without checking for or sending a text, yet she was now some ten hours late and he still hadn’t heard a thing. He glanced at his phone again, just in case, and tried not to notice that the clock on his phone read a little past four am. There was currently no signal. Not even the single rogue bar that had been teasing him throughout the night. A flash of thigh here, the promise of mobile coverage there. He traced the grain of the table with his finger and once again tried to run through the list of benign yet logical reasons as to why his darling wife was almost half a day late. Traffic was an obvious possibility or perhaps she’d got lost and decided to stop off somewhere for the night. Maybe the car had broken down and a kindly AA employee was at this very moment organising a replacement so that this lovers’ reunion wouldn’t be ruined. And then came the drunk drivers, faulty brakes, crazed hitchhikers and multiple car pile ups..."