from a work-in-progress


The paintings were accumulating, a stack of them against the studio wall, beside Richard’s. Some days it was like she could hear them talking quietly, a conversation too low for her to hear. To make more room in the studio, she decided to store the finished canvases in the ghost gallery behind the little door. There was space under the lowest row on two sides of the room and somehow Tessa felt the paintings were truly in relationship with each other, not simply talking casually: the notched stumps, the saws, the stars seen through the netting of branches; the girls in a carvel-planked boat, hats blown back; the same hats floating on water, children holding lanterns against the dark. It was a place, alive in pigment, alive across time in some ways, the young girls in the boat rowing, rowing, as trees rolled down the mountainsides beyond them, as the world moved close to war, the skies so blue you could not imagine the planet was edging towards extinction. They were rowing towards me, Tessa thought, and I never knew until now.

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