Barbara’s receptionist said, “Mr. Krarmer’s on the phone. Do you want to take it?”
“Hi, Conrad, I was just thinking of you. It must be mental telepathy. How are you?”
“Everything’s great . . . how about you?”
“I’m managing, and Katherine’s okay. That’s the main thing. Why do I have the pleasure of your call?”
“Are you available for coffee? I am sitting in a café, and I thought about my last visit to your apartment. I decided to give you a call and ask if we could catch up.”
“I’m not available at the moment, but I’ve been giving some thought to taking Katherine to the MFA on Saturday. If you just happen to turn up, I’m sure she’d be happy to see you. Maybe you could walk with us and explain some of the paintings.”
“Sure. It’ll be my pleasure.”
“Are you available on Saturday?”
“Absolutely. Let’s say one, at Taste.”
“If there are any changes I’ll ring you, or vice versa. See you Saturday.”
I’m pleased he rang. Now I can get them together without imposing on him too much. With Katherine returning to high school on Monday, a day at the MFA will do us both good.
The thought of Katherine studying art at Boston University she found pleasing, but the subject hadn’t been broached. “Hopefully, Katherine can tap into his knowledge.’
Sophia was not in favour of attending the gallery. I would be out of place.
Even though some of Katherine’s paintings were stirring a new feeling in her, she thought it better not to attend. With me there, Barbara and Katherine won’t be free to roam. Besides, I have other things to catch up on. The apartment needs cleaning.
Katherine’s new journey began at that precise moment, when she walked into the MFA with her mother. She had visited once before, as a child, but her parents were the admirers. On display were the results of years of perseverance by men and women. The paintings, with their myriad of colors, images, and sceneries, began to inspire ideas in Katherine for coming works.
The detail in paintings that took her pleasure were far more superior than she had ever imagined. Many she had only ever seen in books at home. Light emitted from a candle, compared to that of the sun. One is useful. The other is awe-inspiring. She literally fell in love with being at the gallery, and she had only seen a few of the original masters.
What other magnificent artworks are there in the world? she thought, as she admired their workmanship. It would be a unique journey to travel the world, to be in their presence. I have to become an artist, and hopefully a good one.
They walked slowly as they admired. Although, Katherine’s talking was incessant. Nothing distracted her as she babbled on about this or that feature of a painting.
Barbara had never seen her daughter so infused with excitement. She remembered her as a young child dancing to music in their living room, playing the violin, and attempting to paint. However, the person standing in front of her was a completely new character. Barbara hoped she hadn’t opened a Pandora-like box for her daughter, with hope her light, but failure her evil.
“Let’s go upstairs and have a bite to eat. I could do with a coffee. What about you?” Barbara had glanced at her watch as she asked the question.
“I’m not very hungry . . . maybe half a sandwich. If you buy one I can have half of yours,” Katherine suggested.
“Are you saying I’m getting fat?” Barbara asked, just as she spread her hands around her waist to demonstrate her still slim figure.
“No. I hope I have a figure like yours when I grow up, but I’m not hungry. I may have an orange juice.”
They made their way to Taste on the first floor and ordered a salad sandwich, no mayo, an orange juice, and a cappuccino.
As planned Conrad appeared, acting surprised. “Hi, Barbara.” He leaned forward to kiss her right cheek.
“Hi, Katherine.” He turned, then kissed her left cheek. “What brings you two here? You should have told me you were coming. I would have come earlier.” To feign surprise he directed his question to Barbara.
“We decided to visit here before Katherine returns to school on Monday. It’s nice to get out of the apartment . . . having a break, sort of.”
“Why here? It’s not that it’s not a great place to be, but if I were you girls I’d be out shopping,” he said, with the merest hint of right wrist flick, in addition to his brilliant smile.
“With Katherine’s interest in art I thought it’d be good for her to come and see some examples of what people can achieve.” As she spoke, she was looking at her daughter.
He was quick to take over the conversation. “I know you love to paint, but would you consider advancing yourself?”
“I hope so. I do love to paint; unfortunately, I’m not very good. I’m glad mom brought me here, so now I can see in real terms what the masters and others have painted. But it would be nice to know what they were thinking at the time.”
He knew her capability was not in question. “You have great potential . . . don’t underestimate yourself. I imagine anyone who has attempted to paint has considered his or her work not very good in the beginning, but it is the determination to learn that makes for a fine artist. Some are successful, but the ones who are not do not stop painting. It is in their blood. Would I be allowed to see some more of yours?”
She liked him, so simply said, “Okay.”
Even though she had agreed, he still had doubts. “You don’t have to show me anything you’ve painted, if you don’t want to. I can understand. I was like that, but you will not know just how good your work is until other people look at it. By me saying good, I’m not talking about the subject, it relates to the quality of the workmanship. That’s what counts. Throughout the world, there are paintings that still mystify people. Some are just a jumble of painted lines, but the potential of an artist, or the quality of their work, determines what is bought, or sold. Sometimes an artist will develop a following. Others rely on instinct. My point to you is that other people will eventually have to see what you’ve painted.”
She understood his inference. “It’s alright, you can see them.”
Conrad pulled his chair near to hers, then placed his right arm across her shoulder. Bending his large frame, and with his face and hers almost in contact, he said, “Thank you. I’m impressed by your talent.”
If I could have a daughter, I wish she could be like her. “Would you like me to show you around?”
Katherine quickly rose from her chair and grabbed hold of his right hand, to indicate she was not hanging around. “Come on,” she said, as she pulled on his arm.
Conrad knew the entwining of his and her life, from that very moment, had begun.
Being her mentor is going to be one of my greatest joys, and anything I can teach her I will. If I can’t, I’ll find someone who will.
Katherine, though, would need time to realise the significance of that day.
By the time of the gallery’s closing it was late afternoon. They were standing on the sidewalk, when Katherine said, “I’ve learned so much, and in such a short time. Thank you.”
“It was my pleasure. We should do it more often.”
Wanting to have some input into the day’s activities, and its achievements, Barbara said, “Thanks for showing us around and explaining some of the paintings. I would not have known what some meant. We should catch up sometime when you’re free.”
Before he could give her words a millisecond of thought, Katherine excitedly asked, “What about next Saturday night at our place? Please say you can come!”
“Okay.” As if to ask for guidance, he glanced at Barbara.
“Saturday’s fine. Say six?” She was asking a question, but making a definitive time.
“What do you like to eat?” Katherine asked. She was not in a hurry to go home, not while he was standing there.
“I eat what’s put in front of me. It’s polite not to suggest what people should cook, and especially to the hostess.” He smiled, as he said, “I want to be invited back.”
Barbara took Katherine’s hand. “We have to go. Sophia will be waiting. We don’t want her to be worried.”
Katherine gave him an affectionate smile. “Will we definitely see you on Saturday night?”
“I’ll be there, I promise.”
“Bye, Conrad, and thanks again. Oh! And bring Robert.” Barbara’s compliment was said for reasons Katherine wouldn’t have understood.
“Isn’t he the most fantastic man? He’s so gentle, and I feel like I’ve known him all my life.” Katherine drooled the words to her mother as she sat in the car.
“You’re only fifteen and you haven’t known him long. You are correct, though. He is a nice man.”
Katherine didn’t wait for her mother to comment further. “I’m almost sixteen.”
“That’s true, but don’t be in a hurry to grow up.”
Although their tit-for-tat alerted Barbara to her daughter’s mental advancement, she felt assured Katherine’s trauma and injuries would forever simmer in her memories.