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The Artist

I quickly rush to the studio door and open it without knocking. When I enter, I see Angelo look up from mixing his paints with a relieved smile. I keep a natural expression, but deep down, I am dejected at the news I must break to him today. 

“I was afraid you wouldn’t show.” I sigh and set the brown bag on the kitchen counter. “I would have been here sooner if you would use easier-to-find paint. I went to three different art stores to find this brand," I tell him as he walks over to look inside the bag. He says, “Sorry...” with a slight grin. He takes out his tube of paint I ran all over town to get and holds it to my arm. “Is it the right color," I ask. He only nods and takes the bag back to where he was continuing to mix his paints.

“What about the model? Is she coming today?” I ask him. I then begin to straighten up the materials around his work area. He takes a moment to respond, mixing a beautiful shade of green. “I’m not painting a model today.”

 “Then what are you painting?” He pointed over to a bowl of fruit from, what I could see, looked completely normal. “Oh…a bit novice, don’t you think?”

“It’s not. It represents life and work. How is that novice?” 

I look at him a second longer but decide to drop the conversation. The artistic mind can find deeper meaning in the most subtle of things. It is a mind I know nothing of. To me, things are as they present themselves. That is most likely why he is the painter and I am the assistant. “Then, what do you need me to do? Should I set up a canvas or...”, I say, trailing off and waiting for him to fill in. 

“Stand with the fruit and pose”, he says, standing up to put his apron on. 

I blink in confusion. “You said you weren't using a model today. I am not dressed to be painted.” I look down at my work clothes, a pair of worn jeans and a paint-stained brown shirt. 

“You aren't a model. If you are now considering yourself one, then I will start referring to you as such; and you are wearing exactly what I need you to be.” 

I sigh and place a hand on my forehead. “What is this about? You've never asked to paint me before. You know I stay behind the easel.” He playfully rolls his eyes and walks over to his canvas. “Stop being difficult. I am only painting your hands holding the fruit.”

I reluctantly do as he says and grab a mango, placing it in my hand and posing it for him. He laughs. “What, am I doing something wrong?”. 

“No, you're doing perfectly.” 

We sit in silence as he paints and I pose. The sadness I felt when walking in came back. I look at him knowing I should say something but feel unable to. “I know," he says quietly without looking at me. I look at him confused. “What do you know?” He continues to draw. 

“That you're leaving...I saw the letter. That's why I'm painting you today. To have something for when you leave.” 

“Then shouldn't you paint my face?” 

“In your hands, you hold the fruit of my labor. You hold a mango, which symbolizes good fortune.” He finally looks up at me from his work. “You have done all the work so that I could only focus on the painting. I am very grateful to you”. We stare at each other for a moment. Then, he continues working. 

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