LOVELY – Nadja Maril

It was a lovely painting—a seascape. Lots of turquoise and green meant it would probably match the couch. Susan nodded her head, “It’s a definite possibility.”

 She looked around the small apartment. “The furniture and rugs were worn, but there were plenty of colorful objects to admire. Bohemian. It was what she’d expected when she’d heard about this artist. “You have such a charming place—so cozy.” 

 “Well it’s a bit of a mess,” Chloe, the wife said apologetically. “Where did you say you’d seen Oliver’s paintings before?”

 Susan and Clayton were considering several pieces. They’d been impulsive to call the artist rather than go through his gallery, but he’d made time to see them. How many people got to visit an artist’s studio?

A gray tabby cat jumped up on the side table and sniffed the fresh red tulips in the vase. “Samantha get down from there,” Chloe called out. She turned to Susan, “You don’t mind cats, do you?”

 “No not at all.”  Susan stood up and stretched her legs. She took a closer look at the small still life sitting on the floor—a vase of pink flowers—only you couldn’t really call them pink. The color was a bit more towards mauve. “Our friends the Taylors— we know them from the Country Club. They own one of Oliver’s paintings, the landscape with the road and pine trees.”

Chloe smiled. “Oh, I remember the one. Are they enjoying it?”

 “They’re very pleased,” Susan said, remembering how jealous she’d been when her friends had bragged about their latest investment.

She looked at the flowers in the painting. No, the still life would not be suitable. She started to pick it up to add to the stack of discards. 

Oliver stopped her actions by putting his hand over hers. His skin was rough, full of calluses, quite a different hand from the one belonging to her husband Clayton who was sitting on the couch. The spot on her skin where he’d touched her tingled. 

“I’d prefer to move the paintings myself. You understand,” Oliver said. He was handsome and had a mustache. 

 “Yes, of course.” She rejoined her husband and waited for Oliver to set up another picture for viewing. She enjoyed watching him move in his baggy khakis splattered with paint. His hair was thick and full. 

 It appeared this artist and his wife lived frugally, if one could judge by the size of their apartment. Oliver held up each canvas, one by one. 

 “Would you like some tea or coffee?” Chloe offered. 

 “Oh do you have some coffee already made? “Susan said. “Yes, that would be lovely.”

“Well it’s not made, but I can brew some up in a jiffy. Do you take sugar and cream?”

“Just a little milk,” Susan replied smoothing out the skirt of her silk dress. How fun to be young like Chloe and Oliver, newlyweds just starting out, 

She turned towards Clayton. “Did you want some coffee?” Their eyes met. She knew the look. He was getting bored. Maybe some coffee would perk him up.

“Clay takes his coffee black,” she told Chloe. “Thank you.”

Oliver was holding up another seascape. It was larger than the first and had a pink sky. “The painting is called Sunset,” he said. 

“Now where did you paint this?”

He shrugged his shoulders and looked slightly annoyed, but then smiled and she felt herself grow warm and blush. “It’s one of the beaches on The Cape,” he said. 

 “Oh,” Susan studied the colors of the water. “Do you mind putting the other seascape next to it? The one we were considering earlier.”

 Oliver called Chloe from the kitchen. “Sweetheart can you come here a moment?”

 The artist and his wife stood side by side, each holding up a canvas.

 Clayton rubbed the top of his bald head. “What are the prices again?”  

 Susan wondered, what would Clayton look like with a mustache? “I’m not one hundred percent certain it will fit in our space,” she said, “but I really like the one on the left.” 

“We can take your check,” Chloe said and Susan could hear the excitement in Chloe’s voice.

“Yes, that’s a good choice,” agreed Clayton, “if it looks good in our house.”  

“Can we try it out? We’ve been doing that with oriental rugs.”

“Oh yes, clients do it all the time. Try a painting out to see how it looks in their home.”

Clayton pulled out his checkbook from inside the breast pocket of his sports jacket. Chloe watched him and exchanged glances with her husband. ‘Would anyone else like a slice of cake with your coffee? I’m starving,” Chloe said       

“Let me help you bring in the coffee mugs.”  Susan said as she got up to follow Chloe who was whispering in Oliver’s ear.

Susan heard the words, “Just in time to pay the rent,” and saw Oliver turn and lovingly squeeze Chloe’s hand.

The cake was one of those mass-produced types bought at a discount store, not the sort of cake Susan was accustomed to, but she took a few bites. 

“I’ll help you load the painting in the car, after I get it all packaged. Do you have a large enough vehicle?” Oliver asked.

“Oh yes.,” Clayton took a sip of his coffee. “The trunk in my Mercedes has plenty of space.” 

 As soon as she got into the car, Susan took another antihistamine. “Oh, how I hate cats,” she muttered. “Maybe we can invite the Taylors over for a drink. I can’t wait for Linda to see our purchase,” 

They hung the painting over the couch and Susan was disappointed. The shade of turquoise wasn’t quite right. The colors didn’t quite match. 

“Oh what a shame. But Oliver is old news,” Linda Taylor said. “ I have a new artist you ought to check out.  As for your purchase, just wrap it back up and return it. I do it all the time. ”