She walks into the house, her hands tucked into her pockets, and ignores the stares that come from those nearby. She moves quickly, step after step, ignoring the scrutinizing gaze of the old man by the door. Or the three hag aunts who were darning a sweater beneath the shadow of the first awning. She held her gaze at the ground, a few paces ahead of her own feet, to allow her to judge her direction without having to see the world about her.
He quietly sat at by the window, the bright warm light of day caressing his skin. He stared at the canvass before him and studied the surface of half-spread paint with a focused gaze. He unconsciously nibbled on the end of his paintbrush; its wood was chipped and worn from his teeth's minstrations.
She crossed the hallway without a sound. Her lithe feet barely tracked the ground as she made her way towards the spiral staircase at the northern end of the house. She slid between the two young boys who busied themselves with the small pebbles they had collected the night before. She bowed respectfully as she moved past the matron who she knew owned the very tiles she was treading upon and the very walls that kept the cold from reaching her. All the while, she kept in her hands the small sack that contained the precious things she had vowed not to fail to bring for him.
He hated what he was seeing. He hated how the shades of tone were all wrong and bland. And most of all, he hated how the sunlight made each imperfection evident and cold. He slid the paintbrush away from his face and dropped it into the water jar that was swirling with half-colored water.
And he turned around to see her rising from the spiral staircase with a controlled smile on her face. She held her arms forward and waited patiently for him to take from her the carefully wrapped parcel that she had so cautiously brought with her.
"Spirit of turpentine... white vitriol... sugar of lead.."
She smiled at she watched him eagerly move the contents into a small mixing dish and prepared to ground them together with the pounds of white lead that he had hidden in the cabinet just nearby.
"And the oil is ready," he remarked as he worked the pestle well to mix them all into a fine powder before taking just the necessary amounts of the bubbling boiled oil to mix the powder into a bright white paste of paint.
She watched as he lifted his brush from the jar and swirled the white into his paintbrush. And with eager fascination, she watched as he applied the white with carefully planned strokes. Control. Craft. And Focus.
And she smiled.
For she was part of the creation of another masterpiece.
Even if no one would ever know she even existed.
Andre Mischa Cleofe
Cathy delos Santos