Mavis was thrilled when Anita, her co-worker, invited her to attend her brother’s opening at a local gallery. “I’ll introduce you to him,” Anita told Mavis.
Mavis had never stepped foot into a real art gallery, much less to the opening of an artist’s show. In fact, she’d never even met an actual artist. When the night of the gala came, she could hardly contain her excitement.
The gallery was crowded by the time Mavis arrived. She looked all around until she spotted Anita chatting with a man and she made her way over to the couple. Anita smiled at Mavis when she approached. “Mavis,” Anita said. “I’m so glad you made it. I want to introduce you to my brother, Barry. He, of course, is the artist behind all of these paintings. Mavis, this is Barry. Barry, Mavis.”
Anita excused herself as Barry reached out, grabbed Mavis’ free hand, and gallantly bent down and kissed it. “Enchanté, mademoiselle” Barry said.
Mavis giggled and said, “Oh, I don’t speak French.”
Barry laughed and said, “Ah, neither do I. But you are a delight for my eyes and I wonder if I might paint your portrait.”
Mavis blushed. “I won’t pose naked, I won’t do that. I’m not that kind of a girl.”
“No, no, no,” Barry said. “I would never ask you to take off your clothes. I had something much more pastoral in mind for your portrait.”
Mavis didn’t really know what he meant by pastoral, but agreed to meet him at his studio on Saturday morning provided she wouldn’t have to get naked.
When she arrived at Barry’s studio as arranged, he showed her a simple dress with horizontal black and white stripes and asked her to change into it, which she did. He told her that it would take four six-hour sessions to complete the portrait. He instructed her to stay as still as possible and to let him know when she needed to take breaks.
Mavis tended to talk a lot when she was nervous, and posing for a professional artist made her very nervous. After a while, Mavis’ inane chatter was taking its toll on Barry and he asked her to please stop her incessant talking so that he could concentrate on his painting.
At the end of the first session, Mavis asked if she could see what he’d painted so far. “Oh no,” he said. “You cannot see it until I have finished it. Please come back tomorrow at the same time.”
Posing for a portrait was a lot harder than Mavis thought it would be. Between having to stand perfectly still for hours on end and having to hear Barry always telling her to be quiet whenever she started talking, she was looking forward to the ordeal being over.
By the end of the second Sunday, Barry had finished the portrait. He stood back and admired his work. “This is my masterpiece,” he said. “They’ll call me a modern day Magritte.”
“What’s a Magritte?” Mavis asked.
“It’s not a what, it’s a who,” Barry said. “René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist known for his witty and thought-provoking images. He depicted ordinary objects in an unusual context, challenging observers’ perceptions of reality.”
“May I see it now?” Mavis asked.
“Of course, mon cher,” Barry said. “I believe my portrait has perfectly captured your true essence. I call it ‘Airhead.’”
Mavis came around to look at her portrait. And then she let out a blood curdling scream.
Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge. Photo credit: CityVarsity.