The Artist

Sea creatures
Interfere
I wish they would disappear...

They don't know what love is

Throw it around like it's worthless
They don't know what love is!

(SOAK)


It never rains but it pours.

Or so they said – and they were pretty damn right, Viggo couldn't help thinking as he ran like hell toward the subway entrance, experimenting the odd sensation of being hit by a wall of water, almost feeling under a waterfall.

Only he wasn't in some sort of tropical paradise, and there was no stunning waterfall cascading from a valley – it was just a random spring thunderstorm striking the city, bringing in all the eventual consequences one could think of.

The dusty smell of suddenly wet asphalt after it had been dry for too much time, greyish dull pools forming at the edge of the sidewalks, cars stuck into the evening rush hour honking and spraying the pedestrians while passing by, people freaking out and running around to reach a safe spot – just like him.

His safe spot was the subway – and that was definitely kind of sad.

Viggo was cursing as he finally descended the entrance stairs, fighting with the load of people gathered there while waiting for the rain to stop. Only when he reached the end of the stairway he found the time to breathe, and realize how much the last five minutes had messed him up.

Fucking hell.

His jet black hair was plastered to his forehead, partially covering one of his eyes, his tie was dripping onto his oxford shoes, his navy blue jacket had become unbearably heavy for how soaked it was, and the part of his white shirt left exposed by it had turned transparent, sticking to his chest. He didn't have the guts to check the condition of his briefcase – he had his laptop, his tablet and his mobile in it – he just fervently hoped that since it was an expensive one, courtesy of the corporation he worked for, it had to be somewhat water-resistant.

He started walking into the corridor that ended into the space before the turnstiles with uneasiness, even if with a quick glance around he acknowledged he was not the only one strolling around soaked to the bones like an idiot. For a glance of sympathy he received, anyway, there were at least three mocking ones – just like the one he was getting from a highschool girl giggling behind her hand.

Yeah, right, laugh, you child. He sighed. Oh, well. I guess I deserve it somehow.

Around the corner an improvised acoustic rock band was playing, and one of their guitar cases laid opened before them, coins and a few bills thrown into it. The singer was so pathetically out of tune that Viggo just turned his head away, fighting to suppress a disgusted grimace.

Right in that moment, just as Viggo was thinking his day could not possibly get any worse, his eyes fell on a subway ad poster – and that's where he saw her – her, the girl he was so desperately trying to forget.

Nadia.

He stood there freezing in front of the poster – it was a huge one, the biggest around, one of those ones composed by several pieces stuck together, one after the other, imperceptible lags separating them, probably due to the laziness and lack of precision of the person who had placed them.

He laughed – a bitter laugh - raising his eyes to the ceiling. Yet, much to his displeasure, the moment he could divert them from the poster didn't last long.

You delete her from Facebook. You unfollow her on Instagram and Twitter. You delete her phone number. You stop seeing almost every friend you have in common with her – and there she is anyway, on a fucking ad..!

Nothing was enough to detox from Nadia, that he knew.

Nothing is enough to detox from a person you've known for twenty one years.

That was the ugly truth.

He looked at the poster with mixed feelings, yet he could discern the one standing out - it was anger.

The poster was the ad of the upcoming remake of a musical version of 'Romeo & Juliet' – and guess who played Juliet? Nadia. And guess who played Romeo? A dancer Viggo didn't even remember the name, the only information he reckoned about him was that Nadia had hooked up with him.

Fuck – fuck the both of them.

He tried to force himself to just walk by, to just let it go – yet he couldn't. He couldn't let it go, he couldn't let go of twenty one years.

Can I really be blamed for this?

He felt an overwhelming frustration as he examined their perfect bodies performing a scenic choreography, he bare-chested with skinny pants, she wrapped up in a microscopic tutu.

She is so fucking perfect.

And that was what he had hated her for – and that was what he had loved her for, probably.

Twenty one years, always feeling one step behind.

Subsiding to a childish impulse, he reached for the blue ballpoint pen he kept in one of the external pockets of his briefcase.

Twenty one years, he didn't even know where to start.

All the times she laughed at me for reading manga and playing videogames.

He removed the pen cap, and let its point touch the side of her eyebrow, there on the poster.

All the times I helped her carrying her backpack to school – and she never even said 'thank you'.

Surprisingly, the ballpoint pen was flowing easily on the poster paper. Viggo started modifying the way her eyebrow looked like, depicting an evil curve on them.

All the times I was the only one bringing the heavy books to school, and she claimed she needed to use them. All the times I gave her my notes, because she was an artist, she had to practice dancing, she had no time to study.

Viggo definitely liked the evil look on her face on the poster now – but it was nowhere near the final image he had in mind. With the pen he was now transforming her ear – left exposed by her high bun – into a gill.

All the times I let her copy the test – and that one time we got caught, and she said it was my fault.

The hair was next – her head was surrounded by white space on the poster, so Viggo started filling it with weeds and tentacles rising from it.

A sea creature.

That time she was stunned when seeing my drawings but pretended it was just juvenile geek shit – because she was the artist, surely not me.

When it came to drawing, he was a natural. He had a talent. And even with a pen on an ad poster he was capable of anything – he felt inspired now. Some of the tentacles came to life as he added eyes and mouths on them.

That time she told her parents the pack of cigarette they had found in her bag was mine – because even if they forbid it she just had to smoke, she was an artist.

The pen flowed to her elbow now, where Viggo started tracing the detailed lines of scales.

All the times she used me as an excuse to ditch other poor oblivious guys. All the times she had used me as an excuse with her parents telling she was at my place – because they trusted me – while she was out dating other random guys.

When her forearm was done, he proceeded with her extended hand – her nails needed to be longer, sharper. And surely that hand should be webbed.

An evil sea creature.

All the times she had tried to talk me out of every girl I liked, saying they were boring, they were stupid, they were nuts – and she was comparing them to herself, obviously – and she always managed to convince me she was right.

That time I finally found a nice girl to date, and when she discovered it she kissed me on the lips in front of her – and I was so lost I was unable to resist – just to tell me an hour later that kiss meant nothing.

Little horns surged from the pen, occupying her elbows and shoulders.

All the times she called me to come and pick her up, wasted after alcoholic nights, telling me I was the only one she trusted – yet she never listened to any of my lectures concerning her bad habits, because she was an artist, she just had to drink and get high.

As if in a trance, an unknown energy boosting him, Viggo had filled her bare back with scales already – only to come to the conclusion scales were not enough – a fin was needed to, a sharp, double fin.

All the damned, damned times in which just looking at her, at her smile, at her unsettling eyes, I melted under her touch, and forgot in the blink of one eye all the aforementioned - and just hopelessly loved her.

"Mister. Excuse me Mister." A light tap on his shoulder, an half embarrassed voice "I think you should leave now."

Viggo turned back, as if suddenly waking from a dream. A short black woman wearing a public transport uniform was looking at him with her huge sympathetic eyes.

And she was not the only one.

Viggo startled as he saw that a whole crowd of all kind of people had gathered around him, and they were all staring fascinated at his drawing on the ad-poster. Even the rock band had stopped performing and was enjoying the show like everyone else.

"Sure." Viggo lowered his gaze, realizing if possible only now the embarassing situation he'd got stuck in. He calmly placed the ballpoint pen back into the pocket it had come from. "Sure, I was just about to leave."

"It is forbidden to write on public ads." The woman went on, but she was clearly saying this just to excuse herself for interrupting him, as if she hadn't really wanted to do that. "Are you an artist, or something like that?"

He laughed – a hearty laugh, this time.

"Not really."

As he started walking to the turnstiles he kept his eyes low, not daring to look at his stunned audience, not daring to look back at his piece of art either. He could gather from the flashes hitting the corner of his eyes that someone was shooting photos too.

A timid applause surged from the crowd – and in a few moments it roared up, becoming loud and clear and contagiuos.

So, an artist.

Viggo swiped his card on the turnstile – and he knew he felt better.


Note

This is an entry for A drop of Romeo 'Star Crossed' Contest ('subway' prompt), so I want to thank their staff for inspiring me to write this story. For me feedback is essential and is often what keeps me going, so thanks for hitting on this story - and hopefully reaching this point - in the first place. :) What did you think of Nadia? I expect everyone to hate her, honestly, even if I'm not sure that was the point. Any other kind of feedback is welcomed, review, PM, hit on my other stories.

TNX again!

Dragonfly