Allison had waited for Jacques all day, although really it was ten years. She watched the scene around her change, the colours shifting like a painting in progress. After ten years, the area was unaltered. The lake was clear as glass. The stillness of the water accentuated the lines in her face.
She had often thought of returning to paint this lake, to recapture cherished memories. After leaving France, she never picked up a brush again. The years strengthened the associations of pain. But being there again inspired her.
‘Allison?’ She turned and saw Jacques smiling and the pain returned. Though he was older and had put on weight, his smile was still as charming. Nevertheless, the painterly environment she imagined seemed to wash away amongst the stilted conversation. The lake had calmed her, but now his nervousness infected her.
‘Do you still paint?’ she asked.
‘Not much anymore. I had to get a real job eventually. And you?’
‘Not at all, no. Not since I left France.’
There was a long silence. ‘I’m sorry about that. Really, I’m glad you’re back.’
She didn’t respond. She stared at the lake. It was black in the night. The colour had faded entirely.
‘I don’t know what to say. Don’t you want to talk? Why did you come if you don’t want to speak to me?’
‘I would never break an agreement. Even one so old.’ She walked away but he stopped her. He pulled out a painted vase from his bag, it was cracked. It was a mixture of two painting styles. They should have clashed but somehow they complimented one another.
‘Still as nice as the day we made it, eh? Even with that one final touch of mine.’
‘I can’t believe you put it back together.’
She held it in her hands, her fingers caressed the cracked edges. She studied the painting. There was the lake with both of them beside it, growing older at each stage of their life.
‘Maybe it could do with some flowers?’ he said.
‘Yes, that’s true. And some water.’
‘But you know, this one is a little broken. I’d like a new one. What do you think?’
They walked together past the lake. Their reflection appeared in the black water. She saw them as they were, now old after ten years of separation. She decided this was the scene she would paint on the vase.
by James Hunter
(prompts: lake, vase, ungodly hour)