The Doctor opens his eyes to the stark sea wind, setting his paintbrush to the canvas.
Following the horsehair, a line echoes over the rough tarp, dark black and thick with the oils of the paint.
His bare elbow twitches; he looks down. A little flyspeck has landed on his skin.
He shakes his arm, bending his whole shoulder inward. Avoiding the mistake he might make in the picture if the fly decides to stay and brush up on his Jules Victor Clairin.
The fly itches along, closer to his humerus, demure little feet plodding nonchalantly forward.
He shuts the tiny insect out and continues with the line.
The brush skirts along, flowing like fluid across the canvas.
A nice, tidy line of drippy black.
Soon there will be leaves instead of tallow.
In her hair.
In her hair.
He paints, dipping here and there into the other colors.
A dab of blue here, a touch of yellow there. A spot of orange and brown.
Leaves in her hair.
The narrow bent-mustard and tan of dying grasses.
At his feet, winds hound their doggerel, mad with hunger, sprinkling the piss of cold across his skin.
The fly at his elbow, as he watches, slows and freezes up, trumpeting tiny icicles down onto the hot of his flesh as it falls.
He reaches down, brushing the dead fly away.
The truant brush slips over the canvas like a rampaging stallion, ruining the face with a dark line.
He smiles up, then, away from the portrait.
For the lady is walking.
He watches her white feet creep toward the cliff, her legs, her body, her breasts, pearls sheathed in blue.
Her crown of leaves springs out from her gold-framed pearl face as she runs, so slowly.
Her toes crunch branches and leaves.
She reaches the edge, the water swirling far below.
And falls, twisting to catch his dark eyes as she plummets.
He smiles again and touches an aching rib. It isn’t broken. It never was.
But there ‘is’ a hole there, and the bones of his naked torso are poking through it. He sticks his hand into the hole briefly, waggling his fingers around in the goo.
Black paint comes out, oozing onto his black trousers.
For relief from the pain and the paint, he swipes the oily medium on his trouser leg, stretches the leg out beyond his other’s bent knee, then returns to the now-blank canvas.
He dips his brush into the black paint, to begin the work again.
But in the back of his mouth, his teeth grind as if fashioning a sword.