Three-word Prompt: Playing card, Dandelion, Toothpick
(Thanks to Immy Lars)
The glow from the fireplace is playing over her face, casting her features in light and shadow as she studies the hand he dealt her… and as always lately, he imagines painting her nude body by firelight…
She’s only a bit better at poker than she’d claimed to be when he’d proposed this evening’s entertainment, and she fans the playing cards out between them on the blanket — three Queens, beating him yet again. He sees that she’s confident now, smug... but is pretending not to be, whistling a little tune, lips rounded like she’s blowing the fluffy dried seed head from a dandelion. As she reaches for the pile of toothpicks, begins to sweep them toward her, he takes her hand…
“You’re really good at this. So… why don’t we make it more interesting,” he says.
“Clothes instead of toothpicks?” she says, arching a brow.
“Clothes instead of toothpicks,” he grins.
She nods, smiles to herself. He doesn’t know that she’s actually much better at poker than she’d claimed… and has been watching him palm Kings for the last six hands. But she’s been palming Aces, and estimates she’ll have him out of his clothes in no time… and he always looks so beautiful by firelight…
Three-word Prompt: Triumvirate, Apparition, Sensuous
(Thanks to Loveamystery)
“You’ve been struggling… trying to process something,” Elizabeth says, standing before the sheet-covered canvas on Franco’s studio easel.
“Trying to process my life,” he says with a hollow laugh. “The things that have shaped me.” He’s behind the counter, radiating a nervous energy that seems to seep into her bones.
She waits, eyes him expectantly until he comes around and stands next to her. “I’m calling it Triumvirate,” he says, heaves a deep sigh and pulls the sheet from the painting. She gasps, steps back from the jumbled assault of garish colors, disturbing forms, harsh, jagged shapes…
“I know, I know,” he says apologetically. “I almost didn’t show you… but I need you for this. You’re part of it.”
She looks at him skeptically.
“See, it’s in layers, one behind the other.” He gestures to particular areas of the painting. “The bottom layer is fear. My early years… primary colors, and—,”
“—Yes,” she says, leaning in close. “I see a child’s drawing. A house, a sun, a tree, but they’re so distorted, Franco… like a nightmare.”
“That’s right,” he says, energy rising, clearly pleased that she understands. “And the second layer, on top of that… is madness.”
She glances at him, pain in her eyes.
“These were the things that ruled me, Elizabeth.”
She takes his hand, doesn’t need to lean in… this layer consists of thick, vicious brush slashes, spatters of black and red and purple, incoherent half-images… and warped faces emerging like monstrous apparitions. She shudders involuntarily and looks away.
“I know. I’m sorry,” he says, squeezing her hand.
“You’ve been living with this?”
“I lived this. For decades. And I’ve been re-living it here, trying to recreate it…”
“Catharsis, I guess.” His eyes move slowly over the painting, as though seeing things that are invisible to her. “Since Harvey… since everything I remembered… I feel like there are no more questions. Like I can finally move on. And this helps cleanse me… free me…”
“You take it from in here,” she says, laying her palm on his chest. “And you put it out there.”
“Yeah,” he says, covering her hand with both of his as though needing the contact. “To make room in here for the new.”
She lifts her eyes to the canvas again. “So… fear ruled you… and madness. Triumvirate, you said? Tri means three. What’s the third?”
He smiles gently and lets go of her hand. He turns, lifts a can of paint and a large brush from the counter and gives them to her.
“That’s where you come in,” he says.
She looks into the open can. “White?”
“White. Go on, cover the painting. Every square inch. And then it will be finished.”
“Franco,” she says, shaking her head. “I don’t understand.”
He raises his hand and tears fill his eyes as he slowly, sensuously caresses her cheek.
“The third, Elizabeth, is love.”