Virgulle’s Vestral 59

Saturday 7th January 2012

Painting finished with a splash

PINS – sharp, with rounded heads – were used to attach paper to a wooden board, which I would set against the easel’s frame.

When a painting was complete or abandoned, I’d place the pins on a ledge below the board. Frances would tear a replacement sheet from the sketch pad, kept in readiness on the bench.

Our first morning by the pool was far from satisfactory.

“Isobel told me to ask for anything I need to make the days more pleasant. So, I have a request, please, Frances.”

“And what would that be?”

“To make the water keep still when I am being an artist. Oof! This is not a good picture.”

She chuckled behind me as I painted an irate X across the paper, rested brush and palette in the easel’s tray, and removed pins with my fingernail.

“More paper?”

“Yes, thank you… Oh, wah!”

“What’s up?”

“I’ve dropped a pin.”

“Don’t worry. I’ve a whole box full.”

I stepped closer to the edge of the pool, as far as the chain would allow…

“I think it has fallen somewhere over here.”

…before placing my left foot, with its attendant shackle, directly on to the upturned pin. I screamed.

“Virgulle! What the..?”

She jumped up.

“It… owww! I… aarghh!”

“Hugo. You there?” She spoke into her microphone device. “I may need your help. Our barefoot girl has stood on something.”

I am wailing as if my whole body’s in torment.

Quickly, Frances reaches my side, asking where it hurts, trying to lift the foot. I press down harder, screaming again.

“Can you move it at all?”

“No. All the leg, it is like ice.”

“Hang on. I’ll get this off.”

Keys taken from her belt…

“We’ll call a medic.”

…shackle removed, placed on the ground…

“Don’t put any weight on it.”

…Hugo, running from the building…

“You’re not going to faint, are you?”

…Frances standing…

“No. I am sorry, Frances.”

“Doh. No need to apol––“

It is easier than expected. Shoulder into the midriff and a firm push with both hands. She grunts in shock, falling backwards.

Flecks of spray tickle my feet, as I unfurl and rise from the ground.

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