The Artist


A novel excerpt, before I resume post-NaNo posting.

The young man called Aurel paints but he isn’t very good. So he writes instead. Letters and letters, some of which are never sent. Most of which are. He is thinking about why he is alive on the earth and the writer and the irritating dripping sound of his leaky tap.

He is often not working. His boss doesn’t mind. She is in her mid-forties, and she was once a model. Her beauty is still in her eyes and the single dimple in that sad smile she makes after he has escaped her bed. She doesn’t mind that he doesn’t work when he should.

Instead he sits at home. Empty takeaway cartons and unwashed everything and dust-laden floorboards. He sits in a defeated old armchair which was once red, staring at the reflection of himself in an opposing mirror. He hardly recognises the person staring back. Dishevelled black hair and bags under his eyes like a coffee-addicted boxer and a face of loose skin which is gaunt and dead. Sometimes he wishes that he was dead. Sometimes he thinks he is. Existing as a some sort-of half-corporeal being still haunting the place of his last days. Perhaps to wish to be dead is to be half-dead already.

He smokes a lot and he is smoking now as he watches himself in the mirror. He runs a hand back and forth through his ragged hair dislodging bits of wool and dandruff and making sure the smell of the smoke gets caught in his hair. One of his last remaining pleasures in life is waking up in the morning (in the chair, because it is the only place he can fall asleep now) and turning his head casually to the side and inhaling the strong musk of cigarette smoke. Not that his whole apartment doesn’t smell of it. But he likes to think that smell from that one source is strongest.

So he is smoking and he is thinking about his remaining pleasures in life and his worsening appearance and the woman he is having an affair with and how bad he is at painting. And at some point he realises that the window is wet with rain and his face is damp and the tap still drips and there is a draft in his living room.

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