Hajime was coming home later and later. It was a good excuse to avoid his wife. Ever since the fight they went out of their way to avoid each other. Who would have thought that only a few months ago they had been wed at the altar?
Still the chest and its paintings held him in morbid fascination. Yet another of the silken locks had fallen apart and despite all feelings to the contrary, he opened the case to see the picture inside. It made him gasp, and for a moment thought that there was blood. The painting was white save for a jagged spindle-shaped blotch of red in the middle like an open wound Ė or that secret cave of women, a thought that made Hajime flush. Hesitantly he touched the red and discovered that it was imprinted deep into the canvas in sharp, vicious strokes, as if the painter had wanted to stab his instrument right through the canvas. Failing in that, the painter instead had taken hold of the canvas Ö and ripped. The entirety of the top right hand corner had been torn away.
Hajime looked inside the case and inside the chest, but he couldnít find that missing piece. It was frustrating to not have the whole picture. He searched the storeroom, he searched the laundry, the kitchen, even getting a hammer to tap on the walls and listen for echoes. He didnít, and each failure fed the exasperation until at last he gave up and threw the hammer at the wall. It woke his wife.
"Darling," said his wife coolly, standing in the lounge entrance. "Just what are you doing?"
He snarled. "Shut up and leave me alone!!"
"Itís four in the morning and youíre banging around? Have you been drinking?"
Hajimeís face twisted angrily. He grabbed the first thing that came to hand Ė a cushion Ė and threw it his wifeís head. It made her scream. "I said shut up!"
They had been lying there in bed twined together. Actually, it was more like he had been lying there, and the other had been twined around him. He couldnít move much, and it had been rather stifling. He thought that the other was asleep. Until he started talking, that is.
"I love you, you know," the young man beside him murmured drowsily, drunk on warmth and pleasure. "Beyond anything else."
He chuckled with an affection that was in name only. "No, you donít." He lifted a hand and began to rub the otherís skin in lazy circles, teasing the edges of one nipple and watching the otherís lips part. "You love your death more than me."
The unbandaged eye struggled to stay open. "But you are my death."
Instinctively his hand flashed upwards to grab the otherís neck and shove him down, choking, into the bed. The young manís one visible eye grew wide as terror set in. He growled and pressed harder. Without warning, the young man smiled.
Stop. He let go and jumped off the bed like a cat. He grabbed his clothes and pulled them on as the other sat up, staring after him with that one emerald green eye. If there was something about to be said he never found out, because he exited the bedroom with a loud slam.
It was becoming easier to start, now. He put the canvas up and was mixing the red before he was actually thinking about it. It was a spatula he picked out this time, and having immersed it in the red he began to stab into the canvas with vicious strokes. It didnít take long before he threw the instrument to one side to he grabbed a brush and began to paint into the top right hand corner. An eye without color Ö
He snarled. He took hold of the canvas and pulled. It was stiff and heavy, cutting into his palms. Still, somehow he managed to rip it, but it wasnít clean. It curved around to cut out that part he had begun, as if some monster had bitten it off. Pulling a cigarette lighter out of his pocket he set flame to that piece. The oil in the paint caught quickly. While that burned he slammed the latest work into a fresh black case and took extra care on the seal-knot.
Once it was done, he breathed deeply. Calmly.
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