Pink Nude #1, 1974
The smell of linseed through the floorboards made it easy to believe he was still down in his studio. She heard his knives on the canvas; imagined he was scraping another figure from paint the color and consistency of bubblegum. Squirrels in the walls again, that was all. Their acorns dropped and bounced along the ductwork like pachinko balls.
She walked into town. Tourists, hair frizzed from the ferry, pretended not to look. She was obese, but she could walk fast. At Stein’s, she picked up his order. Duck confit, the chèvre stuffed figs he ate like popcorn, mineral water bottled near his hometown in Poland. She looked away from old Mrs. Stein’s pity as she paid the tab. The last three months. Some of what she paid for, her father had swallowed.
Back in the studio she slid bones out of duck legs and fed the meat to his dog. She knew what the townspeople thought. Fat spinster, haunting her father’s house in the woods.
She was naked, of course, folded dress and underwear placed neatly on a stool near the entrance. There were no clothes in the studio, only rarely in the house. Even the dog was collar-less. “The planes of the body should be uninterrupted,” he had said. At fourteen, he’d sent her to a surgeon to have a constellation of moles removed from her stomach. He’d paid with a slip of a drawing, a throwaway. After, he’d allowed her to pose. The scorch of the electric heater on her back, her nipples cold and hard as winterberries. Like mercury.
He’d wanted to paint her open, so she’d moved her legs apart.
She is stirred from her reverie by the sound of the dog trying to bring something up from its throat. A bone she missed.