new voices: tone

She walked into the studio. I looked up, finding her gaping up at one of the large canvasses.

“This is so beautiful, but the inside of your mind must be a horrifying place,” she said to me, as if I were a light fixture, without turning to address me. No breezy hello. No….. courtesy.

I left her standing there. I studiously took a brush full of a golden yellow and gently smeared across the canvas in front of me. I let the silence build. I let her think that perhaps I wasn’t the artist after all.

“What was your name, again?!” I said, dismissively, looking up at her.

“Margaret.” she said, suddenly weary of me knowing any details about her.

“Margaret.” I said simply, revealing an uncomfortable smile of middle-class ragged teeth, “Well, Margaret, you pose that the inside of mind is a horrifying place? I think it’s safe to say you have no idea just… how…. much.”

It wasn’t what I said necessarily – but the tone. It was one that let her think just for a moment. She stood there in the dusky light of the studio, the air smelling of grease paints, perspiration, and thinner. It occurred to her what it would be like if she was hung, still awake, left to drip her last drops into a bucket, all that I might have the perfect tone of red for my work.

“That, ” I said pointing at the large canvas she had admired, “is not for you. So if you please, help us both by leaving my studio now for art that is….. safer perhaps?”

I gave her another humorless smile. There was no real danger. But enough doubt that she breathed, carefully. Just once, then silently let herself out, allowing the blissful silence to return.