Brush to canvas. Sweep, sweep, sweep. Each broad stroke brings something new, an addition to the tapestry of colour. A collection of shapes, brought together to form a person.
With each picture he finishes, a new canvas appears. He doesn't think about it. He just keeps on painting, even as the icy chill sinks into his bones. His hand is stiff with cold, causing him to make jerky motions with the brush,
The colours are bright and vivid, the canvas bright as a beacon even in the impermeable darkness. What else in the room with him? For a second, his thoughts drift from his task. Looking to the corner, he sees a tall figure, dimly lit by some invisible source of light. It might once have passed for a human, but the deep, red rust coating the surface makes it clear that it is merely mechanical.
A loud clunk breaks through the silence. Water is pushing on the sides of this closed room, fighting to break through its perimeters and finally engulf him.
Don't think, he urges himself, just paint.
But he's tired. He doesn't want to paint anymore.
There are so many pictures. Looking up to the wall, he utters a soft gasp. The faces are blank. No eyes, noses, or mouths. Just gone. Or did he never paint them in the first place? "No... this can't be..."
How can their faces not be there? If they aren't, then he'll forget. He can't forget. "Please..." he begs. "Show your faces. I can't forget you. I need to see your faces."
Hearing a metallic scraping, he turns. The tall, red chair is slowly turning-
A warm hand presses against his cheek.
"Mm?" Jowd is jolted out of the dream. He blinks. He's back here, in the brightly lit living room. It is evening and the curtains are drawn. The television is playing at a low volume. Standing in front of him is Alma. She's smiling but a hint of concern shines in her eyes.
"Are you okay?" she asks softly. "You looked so worried."
"Mmm. I was just having an unsettling dream." Jowd rubs his eyes. He looks over, seeing Sissel on the arm of the sofa. The little black cat waves his tail and mews.
"Poor you." Alma strokes his cheek.
"It's getting late, isn't it?" Jowd murmurs. "Or maybe I'm just tired. Been a long day at work."
A pair of arms slip around his shoulders. "You know what we need?" He feels Cabanela's warm breath on his ear.
"A good niiight's sleep. How does that sound, baby?"
Alma turns off the television, then takes Jowd's hand, lightly pulling him from the sofa. "Let's go."
Jowd can hardly argue with that. He's so tired. Off go the lights as they make their way upstairs. Climbing into the bed, they nestle together beneath the warm covers. Jowd looks at their faces intently even as he fights against the waves of fatigue.
"It's okay, baby." Cabanela kisses his cheek.
"Sleep well," Alma whispers. "We're right here."
They both understand. No need for questions.
Kisses are exchanged. Goodnight, they tell each other. With a click, the room is enveloped in darkness. Jowd closes his eyes, ensconced in the warmth of the two people he loves, and drifts away into slumber. Only peaceful dreams come to him that night.