“I want to catch up with some friends at the markets and deli on Saturday morning. Could you take care of Katherine?” Sophia asked Barbara.
“Sure. Go, and enjoy yourself.”
“If I was younger I’d walk. On second thoughts, that would mean carrying the groceries home. I’ll drive.” She smiled at realizing it was a silly suggestion.
“Would you like Barbara to drive you?” JM asked, as they sat at the kitchen table.
“Not today. I don’t know how long I’ll be.”
“They’re good … but I can do better,” Katherine said, as she closely studied her finished paintings. Some finished artworks gave her a sense of pride, but she had reservations about others. The incomplete were not from lack of effort, they only required more inspiration. I have to go to university if I want to be a better artist. I have no choice. Playing the violin is more about what others want to hear, and it is restrictive, compared to art. I loved the violin, but I would rather paint.
Painting dictated her life, and subsequently her immediate family. If her brush or spatula went on its journey, but over-rode the canvas to splash the carpet she did not care.
It’s all art in the end, and it is my room, an artist’s room, it’s not meant to be neat. I can express myself without fearing negative influences.
Her salvation was to paint. It allowed her to forget, and have a new life.
The reception Sophia encountered on entering the deli was overwhelming.
“Mrs. K?” Angelo shouted.
“Hey, everyone, Sophia’s here,” another called.
“We thought you were on holidays in Italy or Greece. Then we heard the bad news,” Angelo said.
“What happened?” enquired a customer.
As she told her story, those who were within earshot appeared shocked, and their comments were sympathetic in nature. Omitting Katherine’s involvement was deliberate.
“It sounds like he was after you. You don’t have any enemies, do you?”
“Not that I know of.”
”Did he take anything?”
“I don’t think so.”
Another expressed concern for the violence occurring in the city.
Concerned about being unable to answer inquisitive questions, Sophia decided to see what produce was available.
As she approached the checkout, Angelo said, from behind the counter, “Why don’t you throw in some Spanish prosciutto when you fry the mushrooms? It’ll give them a boost.”
He’s always looking for ways to sell something, she thought. “I like the idea.” She waited for the wrapping of a few slices.
“I’ve got a delivery of special mushrooms coming in from Russia. Would you like some put aside?”
Not having any expertise on art, Barbara decided to have one of Katherine’s paintings assessed by Conrad Krarmer, a celebrity friend and patient of her husband. Boston was renowned for its art galleries, and his was considered a must see for locals and tourists. Being a highly respected art critic with a weekly television show, and newspaper column, his presence was always in demand, especially when it came to a charity fundraiser, or being a Master of Ceremonies.
Katherine will not give up one of her paintings easily, so I need to be a little devious.
Barbara, being last to leave the kitchen that evening, went to Katherine’s bedroom and knocked on the door before entering. Sophia instinctively looked up, book in hand, from where she sat in the armchair, while Katherine remained as she was, kneeling over a painting as it lay on the bed.
“Katherine? I was wondering if you would allow me to hang one of your paintings in my office. It won’t matter which one. What do you think?”
Katherine’s initial reaction was one of silent scepticism, but this was her mother asking, not a stranger. She stopped painting, then looked at her grandmother for guidance.
Sophia placed the book on her lap, and although she, too, was sceptical, she gave Katherine an approving nod.
Katherine eased herself from the floor and walked to where a small painting lay about-face against the wall near the window. She studied it while holding it at arm’s length, as though it needed a critical eye, and only then, did she step toward her mother and hand it to her.
Barbara tentatively took it from her paint-covered hands. It must be one of her later ones. I’ve never seen it before.
She felt a chill run up her spine, one so cold she involuntarily shivered. “Is this you?”
Katherine’s appearance was void of emotion. You will never know.
The canvas lay across Barbara’s lap as she sat on the couch, but its subject was causing her a sense of unease. Trying to analyse what her daughter was thinking, or feeling, at the time of painting it was proving difficult.
Maybe I’m too close to her, knowing what I do. This would have to be her best work yet. Is this her? If it is, she is definitely distressed.
Barbara, both as a psychologist and a mother, thought she knew how to respond to her daughter’s feelings once they’d been expressed, but the painting suggested otherwise?
“I want you to see something. I think it’s important.”
“What is?” JM asked, as he continued typing on his computer.
“Could you please stop what you’re doing and have a look.”
He glanced up to see the painting lying on her lap.
“It looks like a screaming girl. She looks as though she’s in agony,” he said, before sitting beside her on the couch.
“They’re close to my initial thoughts.” Still looking at the painting, she continued, “Some of her paintings aren’t finished, but if they’re anything like this she’ll need counselling. There is something about this one that is disturbing. It’s as though she’s crying out for help. I was thinking of giving it to Conrad for an opinion. I’d like a professional to assess it.”
He again studied the painting, to see if his interpretation was as she saw it. “It could be a parable done in painted form, only in her case it’s cubism. That’s what I see, although I can’t define what the parable actually is. Until Katherine explains it, I wouldn’t be too concerned by what she paints. I’m quite sure there would literally be hundreds of paintings throughout the world that have some experts confused. The trouble for me with a painting of this style is it is partly cryptic, so either you fully understand, or you don’t. And you’re only after an opinion on the quality and maturity of the artist, not a psychiatric report,” he said, with a hint of ’leave it be’.
“Then you agree with me about the painting?”
“It’s not that I agree or disagree . . . it’s about what you want to see or feel and you won’t be satisfied until you receive an answer. If anyone can give you an expert opinion, it’s Conrad.”
With the painting in hand, she kissed him goodnight and went to their bedroom. With disturbing thoughts trolling her mind, she was determined to have a distraction free environment.
The painting rested against her raised knees as she sat in bed, and it was receiving a thorough perusing.
From a psychologist’s view point, not as a mother. “What’s that noise?” she mumbled. With broken concentration, she waited for the sound to reoccur. Reoccur it did.
The voices are coming from Katherine’s room. I can hear two, not one. Scampering out of bed, she partially, but quietly, opened her bedroom door. With a protruding head, into the hall, she thought, I must be hearing things.
With an almost closed door came the same sounds. “I definitely hear voices!”
Without giving the occupants advanced warning, she quickly opened Katherine’s door, but the scene confronting her was of her daughter painting an unfinished work as she knelt on the floor; and Sophia seated in the armchair with closed eyes.
“I’m sorry! I thought I heard voices. See you in the morning.”
After Barbara withdrew from the room, Sophia looked at Katherine and gave a smile. Katherine, with eyes fixed onto the closed door, just gave a disinterested shrug of her shoulders.