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The apartment stood still. Its inhabitants were nowhere to be found.
In the living room there stood an easel, with a blank canvas upon it. An assortment of colors scattered around her sturdy wooden legs, ready to create a masterpiece with the guidance of a paintbrush. Reds, blues, greens, yellows, violets, oranges. All the colors one could image, in the middle of the room, waiting for their master to come to their side. The canvas, inviting any passerby to make some use of her, sat there .Empty. Waiting to be splattered with paint. Waiting to be conceived into greatness.
A paintbrush laid beside the easel, waiting to create a masterpiece with the guidance of his sage. Every bristle intact. Made of the finest synthetic hairs man can buy. Wood from the most handsome of bark. So delicate that it flows with every movement. He stood out among all the other paintbrushes. Like new. Never before had he blended the reds, blues, greens, yellows, violets, or oranges. Never before had he been given the opportunity to caress the canvas’s untouched surface. Or gone around her rough edges. He just lay there, waiting for someone to make some use of him.
Soledad walked through the door. Alone. Coming home to an empty apartment. It used to happen all the time, but today was different. Something had changed. Maybe it was because of the day’s previous incidents leading up to that moment. Maybe it was because it hadn’t happened a single time since she and Hernando had moved in together. Maybe it was because today, she really was alone.
Hernando walked through the door. Alone. Coming home to Soledad. Walking through that door alone felt strange. Everything was different. It hadn’t happened once since he and Soledad moved in together. It had never felt this way before. It had never seemed so…
They sat on the same side of the room. Both were trying to avoid acknowledging the other.
Soledad kept to herself, focusing on painting. She was distracted. So distracted that she picked up her black instead of white and turned her green into a shade of death. Soledad stopped painting, the process was too difficult to manage. Too painful. Instead, she sat there, taking in everything around her. Her paint. Her canvas. Her brush. Her reflection on the mirror. Hernando. They all seemed so far away from her. She just sat there, taking it all in.
Hernando wanted to talk to Soledad, but he couldn’t even look at her. He sat there, twiddling this thumbs around and staring a hole into the coffee table, deciding whether or not he could pluck up the courage to speak to her. He decided he couldn’t. He decided to sit there, and busy himself with a yellow ribbon on the table instead. He picked it up and twirled it around his ring finger, preventing the flow of blood into it. Unable to stand the silence any longer, he rose from his chair and disappeared into the bedroom.
Soledad didn’t even look up as he passed her. She was too busy taking it all in.
Hernando emerged from the room hours later. Soledad had now retired from her easel and busied herself in the kitchen instead. He walked up to her and gently kissed her on the cheek. She managed a smile, but avoided his eyes. She couldn’t handle it right now. Maybe after dinner, but not right now. Hernando noticed this, and backed away. He wanted to talk to her, he just couldn’t find the courage to.
They sat there, eating in silence. Nothing could be heard by the clatter of silverware. Hernando looked up at Soledad. She had stopped eating. Soledad dropped her fork and looked up at Hernando. Something in her eyes made him want to look away. What seemed like hours went by,
Soledad rose up and carried her plate to the sink. She stood there a moment, gripping the plate in her hand, afraid to let go. She was taking it all it. No one moved. Hernando stopped eating; he was watching Soledad. He had lost his ability to speak, to breathe. She stood with her back turned towards Hernando. Silence ensued.
Gradually, Soledad began to breathe more heavily; she trying to avoid breaking down. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she turned to face Hernando. He started at her, unsure of how to comfort her. She finally let go and began to sob uncontrollably. Soledad dropped her plate on the floor sending pieces of … everyehwwere. She walked away, vanishing into their room.
Hernando just watched her walk out. Lost. Confused. And slightly annoyed.
Soledad just lay there in bed. Unable to think about anything else. She looked to her left. There was nothing. She was alone. In an empty bed. This had happened before, but not since she and Hernando had moved in together. She knew it was because of what had happened, she just didn’t know how to make it go away. Soledad wanted to cry, but she couldn’t. She just lay there. Alone.
Hernando slunk into the room hours later. Alone. Getting into bed with Soledad. This had happened before, but not since he and Soledad had moved in together. He knew he couldn’t take back what had happened, even if it was what he wanted the most.
Hernando just looked at Soledad, and she at him. They sat there in momentary silence. He reached over and held her hand, which lay upon her stomach.
“Next time,” he whispered. She nodded in response and turned off the lights, knowing that tomorrow would be different.