Thursday, March 17, 2011

FAKE REAL WOMAN

FAKE REAL WOMAN


Diane smashed the portrait she'd painted of Tim and herself against her knee. She pulled drawers, swept the night stand, got rid of every memento and gift that reminded her of him. The anger still boiled. I'm just not attracted to you anymore.

She yanked clothes he bought for her from her closet, ripped each into rags. No loss on those; he still bought her clothes from two sizes ago. For when you get back to yourself, he'd said. She slid the wedding gown from the back, but stopped herself in the nick of time. Mom's wedding gown. Diane's first fitting was supposed to be Saturday. I'm just not attracted to you anymore.

He had yet to promise for better or for worse. He had opted out. Her finger throbbed from tugging off the engagement ring. He'd slid that on her finger two sizes ago.

Just when she thought it couldn't get any worse. I'm just not attracted to you anymore.

Tim got her through mom's funeral. So what if she spiraled a bit after that. Missed classes, lost her art students, lost the downtown studio. Lost her figure. She caught her reflection above the bureau.

Frizzy auburn curls framed her splotchy pale skin, lids swollen over hazel eyes, mascara sliming down puffy cheeks—and two chins, neck folds, the beginning of a matronly uni-boob. She couldn't erase his expression from her mind. There was no remorse. Only pity. I'm sorry, I'm just not attracted to you anymore.

She could handle not being pretty to him anymore (though it hurt). She could handle him not loving her anymore (she'd try). But she could not handle him believing her insignificant (a non-person). If she bumped into him on the street, he wouldn't say hello. Only people who thought themselves superior doled out pity. To him, she would be invisible.

She could show him. She mattered. She could be thin again. Pretty again. Diane raced to her attic studio, slammed a blank canvas on the easel. She slipped on her apron, tied her hair into a ponytail. She'd show him the real her, the perfect Diane.

She mixed paints, brushed bold lines across the blank white. First the hair, blue-black and flowing. She added dots of white then blurred them to give shampoo-commercial shine. She outlined a heart-shaped face, widow's peak a point on the smooth forehead.

Her arm tingled as she shaped eyebrows, arched and haughty. Not something she'd felt before, but yes, if she could feel haughty, she could get over the hurt. Cerulean irises under luxurious lashes, only the faintest hint of laugh lines.

Diane watched her hand fly across the canvas. The collar bone, sleek, visible, not cushioned by fat. Sculpted arms, graceful wrists, elegant fingers all appeared. She hadn't felt such inspiration since her mother started chemo. Painting felt good again. She added flesh tones, filled in shadows, gave the Diane in the picture dimension. A warmth spread from her fingertips to her hands, from there to her entire body, exciting her, arousing her, spurring her to give life to the woman on the canvas. Show a part of herself that Tim....

Diane lowered the brush. In her artistic frenzy, she had forgotten. He had dumped her. Pitied her. Deemed her insignificant.

She stared at her self-portrait, the portrait of the better self she wanted to be. The one Tim wanted her to be. One that Tim could be attracted to.

The woman was not Diane.

From the eye color to the erect nipples on melon-shaped breasts, to the perfect cheerios navel dotting the pilates-structured stomach, to the curly black triangle between full hips, to the muscular legs....

Diane could never be the goddess on the canvas. The nude woman looked too real. The woman was taller, shapelier, bolder—Diane realized she had painted a nude Wonder Woman. Diane reached for more blue pigment to cover the nudity. She couldn't believe she had painted every hot-blooded teenaged boy's fantasy woman. Her fantasy.

Tim's fantasy.

How could lines and paint be more attractive than flesh and blood? Diane stared at the statuesque image. Her fantasy, his fantasy—regardless, not real. Not Diane.

She put down her palette. This hurt too much. What was she doing to herself? Before she could become jealous of this non-person, Diane turned around to look for the gesso. Start fresh, begin again, all that happy horseshit—as long as she didn't have to stare at someone she could never be. Gesso—artist's white-out.

Something yanked her ponytail.

Diane screeched and slapped the arm holding her hair. It did not let go. She slammed into the canvas. Another arm reached over her shoulder, snatched the gesso. She recognized the hand. She had just painted it.

"You're not real" she shouted. Diane twisted and pulled, tried to free herself. In a flash, Wonder Woman's leg grew in dimension until it kicked Diane.

She crumpled to the floor. The canvas ripped as Wonder Woman pulled free. Diane crawled toward the door, but the comic heroine was bigger, stronger. She pinned Diane as she coated a spatula with gesso.

Diane balled her fist but before her punch made contact, it disappeared in a smear of white. Two more swipes and Diane's body was gone. The thick white goo touch Diane's cheek. Then she felt nothing at all.

29 comments:

FARfetched said...

Wow, that was dark. And I felt it. Very well done!

Eric J. Krause said...

Good story! At least she hadn't lost her touch in painting, right? Well, before her portrait destroyed her, I mean...

John Wiswell said...

Feels brisker than your other stories since you returned to us. The ending had a rare real gutpunch feeling for me, rare for the effects of flash.

~Tim said...

Is Diane related to Dorian?

Carrie said...

Great description here. Wonder Woman. Peg...what have you been doing? Curious to what inspired this. Great stuff.

Deanna Schrayer said...

Absolute brilliant description throughout Peg! I love the "Cheerios belly button" among others. And the wham-pow ending? Stunning! One of your best.

Tony Noland said...

The descriptions of the Wonder Woman were great, but the emotional jagged edge... done to perfection.

Sam Pennington said...

Yeah, good story, very unnerved by the ending though, will give all paintings a wide berth for a few days, methinks!

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Art is a dangerous thing. Especially when you bring it to life.

Chuck Allen said...

I totally did not see that coming. Great story!

fmd said...

This totally didn't go where I smugly thought it was going to go, you wicked bad writer, you.

I'm still laughing, too, over the uniboob.

Adam B said...

As Tony said, emotionally jagged and so poignant. The ideals we have established are dangerous for both genders.
Adam B @revhappiness

Al Bruno III said...

Great story. Very well done. And us men folks have got to stop letting Madison Avenue tell us what is and is not attractive!

Steve Green said...

I really felt for this girl, you evoke a vivid image of her pain, rejection , and anger.

Really cool ending too.

Alan W. Davidson said...

OK, so it's not really a ghost story but it should still be added to that growing 'collection' towards an anthology...

Fantastic job, Peggy. I liked how she came to realize, during the painting of that woman, that she wasn't THAT woman. Only to have the woman 'erase' her. Very well-told and thought provoking.

flyingscribbler said...

Be careful or you might just get what you wish for.
Sadly, she learns this the hard way. But what happens to Wonder Woman? Does she take the wedding dress?

K said...

Peg, the ending was a real shocker, a real punch in the face, a real wake me up? I was captivated throughout and loved the way you brought us right into Diane's heart and mind. She was so sad and defeated and then literally wiped out. This could be such a strong social commentary about how we see ourselves and about how we women need to redefine what we term as beauty. If not us, then who?

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

Well, first of all, screw him. Glad she wasn't marrying such a shallow, self-centred, stupid man. Better to be rid of him without the added pain of paying for a divorce, or dealing with children.
But isn't she just as bad? Thinking the only way to feel better is to be Wonder Woman?
Sadly there are too many people in the world like this. I feel sorry for them.
Oh, and good-on-you for writing a story that was so good it pissed me off!

AidanF said...

Love the premise. I like to imagine it takes great passion in your paintings (or art) to bring them to life. I feel sorry for Diane, but look forward to Wonder Woman playing with Tim. The story builds nice tension as it works towards the release of wonder woman.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Holy happy horseshit gesso, Peg! You've painted white-out and wipe-out from cerulean irises to surreal taunting twist in simultaneous brush/keystrokes.

Haughty over hurt as a healing handling was as superb as your apt title's haunting. But the rueful refrain past the him of Tim? Tough femme insight/impacts, reinforcing such a sink-into storyline.

Brava the psycho-drama Ms Peggy,
~ Absolutely*Kate

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Just read your LABELS! - Damn, you're "on".

brainhaze said...

Love the descriptive words you use - dark piece, but i liked it a lot

Stephen said...

When her arm started tingling, I was thinking: Dorian Gray. Then, you twisted it and gave us the artist's white-out. A nice touch to a cool story. Thanks for sharing.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I absolutely love Wonder Woman so I'm sad to see her turn on another woman, but this is a very dark piece. Artists have to be careful what they create!

Timothy P. Remp said...

-Ouch.

Mike Robertson said...

"The thick white goo touch Diane's cheek." ...touched...?

Amazing power you're displaying here Peg.

Bukowski's Basement said...

Damned near perfect on ever level ... tone, pace, dialogue...

Great one, Peg!

Bukowski's Basement said...

BTW ... (Sorry I haven't been around much -- been in the writing [and movie watching] cave)

KjM said...

For a while I thought we were heading in a Dorian direction - and you brought us elsewhere.

Excellently done. I liked the emotion that ran through this.