*Features adult language and themes.*
It just sits there waiting for me to do something. Each time I look at it, I feel it staring back at me accusing me of laziness.
Evie turned her head away trying to ignore it. It wasn’t going to win this time. She wasn’t going to give in. The trouble was she wanted nothing more than to fill the vast white blankness.
It’s only an empty bloody canvas. I’m starting to think of it as a puppy that needs walking.
Light played over the softly textured surface creating vague and shifting images of its own. It yearned to be used. It was waiting to be marked. Evie wanted to. She was full of ideas, but none of them made the journey from her mind, out of her fingers, onto the canvas.
She had a huge list of things on her mind that she needed to do. All of a sudden each one seemed more important than standing in front of her easel trying to paint.
I’ll make myself a cup of tea, that’ll make things better. Somehow.
She turned away from the table, knocking a brush to the floor. It stabbed into the carpet depositing a splash of red paint that made the floor look as though it was bleeding. Bollocks, something else to clean up.
Walking across the living room and into the kitchen she tried to ignore all of the other household chores that littered the flat. The task was more difficult in the kitchen; if she really wanted a cup of tea she’d have to do the washing up. She refused to rinse out a dirty cup and use it, she would have to do the lot. He never does the washing up. I’m sure he just leaves it because he knows it’ll drive me crazy and I’ll cave before he does.
Evie briefly contemplated drinking her tea from a gravy-boat before proceeding to wash up in a filthy mood. She washed everything vigorously, splashing water all over the work-top and the front of her cardigan. The water began to drip onto the floor, pissing her off even more.
One chore seems to create three more. How hard can it be to keep a place this small clean? It was only a small two bedroom basement flat. When they were looking for a place the idea of living partially underground had seemed different and quaint, like hobbits. The notion had seemed cosy and cut off, in reality it was confined and damp.
Sitting back down on the sofa with a cup of tea she glanced over at the easel and its accusatory canvas. It stared back at her with an ironically blank expression. Paint hadn’t appeared by itself, which was completely unsurprising but annoying all the same. Painting had been a lot of fun at some point, but she couldn’t remember when that had been. The only thing she’d ever been able to complete with any efficiency was her diary. It was what she turned to when her creative efforts came to nothing.
* * *
So it’s the first day of a brand new year, and nothing really changes. I’m beginning to agree with Jon. It’s just the turn of a calendar page, a marker in time. Ultimately meaningless. Time is a human construct. Something we invented to stop ourselves going crazy; like chocolate and TV talent shows. Time is just a distraction, a framing device for our existence.
I don’t know, maybe I’m not quite that cynical yet. I think the New Year can help bring change to people’s lives. I hope it can help me this year. I need something to change but I don’t know what?
I’m hoping that Kurt Sampson will give me some ideas. The first article of his magazine column should be published later. I’ve been waiting since it was announced. He has such a unique way of looking at life. His advice always makes me hopeful.
I didn’t feel like getting out of bed today. As soon as my feet touch the floor it’s as though I’m stuck on rails that take me to the same places and do the same things everyday. There’s no surprises good or bad, it’s just a constant blur of grey. I don’t know how to derail myself. I need something big to happen, something out of the blue, but I can’t manufacture that. I’ve just got to sit around and wait.
Of course the tracks were firmly set in place for New Year’s Eve, we did the same thing we’ve done for the past three or four. Probably three, we haven’t gone out on New Year’s since Robbie was born. We keep using the same old excuses to stop ourselves. It’s too expensive, what with baby sitters, and inflated prices just because it’s New Year’s. We can’t be bothered to get all dressed up. We don’t like being in a crowd of people we don’t know. Blah, blah, blah. All the usual things we say to one another to stop us doing anything new. Jon seems completely happy to keep everything the same and repeat our usual cycle. I think I’ve run out of energy to try and change. I guess it’s easier.
So we stayed in, put Robbie to bed, opened a bottle of wine and watched other people celebrate on the telly.
The people on the TV seemed so happy. The ones standing out in the cold waiting for fireworks had big smiles on their faces as though they didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. The people in cosy studios chatting and watching others sing or perform seemed to be having a great time.
I don’t get it. To me it’s like proscribed fun-time. ‘It’s New Year’s, we have to go out and it will be fun. No mater what we’re doing it’ll be fun, just because the New Year is coming.’ Life doesn’t work that way. At least not for me. I can’t tell myself to have a good time. I have to feel it.
The saddest thing about this is that I would have swapped with any of the people I saw on TV. No matter how forced or uncomfortable, I would have swapped with them, just to be doing something different.
Deep down I know I wouldn’t have had a good time if I got what I wanted. I’d just have been unhappy in a different place.
I hate feeling like this. I really do. I try to take a step back and look at my life subjectively. When I do it makes things worse because I know I have no reason to complain. I have a good life. I have a husband who loves me, and I love him; even if we drive each other crazy sometimes. I have a beautiful son that amazes me with the things he does and says every day.
The bottom line is that I resent what I have because I constantly want something better, but I have no way of getting it. I guess I’m my own worst enemy.
If we insist on placing any sort of emphasis on the New Year, no matter how little we believe in its significance, I should probably write a list of resolutions I can ignore later. At least I can keep my hypocrisy consistent.
Finish a piece of art.
Sell a painting.
Get a better job.
Move to a better flat/house.
Throw out all the clutter in the flat.
Save some money.
Appreciate Jon more.
* * *
We got through the bottle of wine, watched Jools and his pals do their thing and counted down with Big Ben. The fireworks were pretty spectacular. It might have been nice to see them in person. There were so many people on the north bank of the Thames watching. The TV broadcast switched to a ‘studio’ on a boat floating in front of the
London Eye. All the guests were dressed up. It looked so glamorous. A whole other world.
I kissed Jon at midnight and wished him Happy New Year. He kissed me back and told me that I made him ‘so happy.’ I told him the same thing. It wasn’t a lie, but I always get the impression that I make him happier than he makes me.
Maybe there’s something wrong with me?
In fact I know something’s wrong with me.
I’m still having trouble painting. I used to be so prolific. I dimly remember having some success years ago, but that’s been swallowed up by time, and changes in my life. I don’t think I’ve produced anything I’ve liked since Robbie came along. I’m not blaming my son for my own deficiencies (I’m not Jon’s mother) but something in me has shifted. I’ve tried to paint for the last 3 years and never finished a thing.
The canvas mocks me.
* * *
Evie reached across and took a sip of her tea, but it was cold. There’s nothing more unpleasant than cold tea. Well, obviously there are, like famine, rape, murder and telemarketers, but not at this precise moment.
She shut her diary and tied it closed with the leather strings that had been sewn into the spine. She then got up and went to the bedroom putting the diary under the bed with her other precious possessions. Jon never looks under the bed. I wonder if he knows that I keep a diary?
Evie drifted back into the living room, snatching another glance over to her canvas. She slumped down onto the sofa, defeated.
“Hi, we’re back.” Robbie ran in from the kitchen, leaving muddy footprints on the floor and launched himself at Evie. “Mummy.” She caught him in a hug, smiling. Robbie’s coat was covered in a mist of rain that soaked into her clothes.
Jon appeared in the doorway, taking off his jacket, he looked down at the dirty floor, stretched his mouth into a grimace, shrugged and smiled at Evie. “Alright?” he went over to his family and joined the hug briefly as he kissed Evie.
Evie looked up at him, then back to Robbie. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
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