Thin Air

Still. There was one more painting. After a week, I came back, sheepishly, sat on the sofa and apologised, looking round at the canvases turned towards the wall. You leaned back in silence, frowning. Then turned quickly and leaned towards me, your hand uncertainly on my shoulder.

Later, I leaned against a pillar while you painted. I stared upwards until I felt faint, then I crouched down to let my heavy blood spread out again. The afternoon ebbed on with threats of autumn. When I looked at the painting I couldn’t see myself, thinking that I’d disappeared. Except, you said, in the spirit of the piece. I didn’t have to be an object anymore. I don’t remember how that painting looked, I find no clues here.

But it was over. You needed more space, was how you put it. Such a lapse into cliché. I gestured around at what I took to be the universe, always expanding, always empty, and wondered how much more space you could need.

I started to draw my own pictures, cover my own hands in paint.

Look at the broken mirror. Now let the grey-green grass between the flagstones become – no: the illusion is over. Because this is where I saw you with her, here where the sound of water pours through the lock and rats dart into the faults in the factory wall. Just across on the towpath – there. Arm in arm, skimming stones over the water. And you turned her face towards you and kissed her. The red brick is brick again, rough and useless. The mirror returns to the water and you – your skin, your hair, your eyes – break up and melt back into the scene. The air is thin, the light falls on an empty stage. I’m alone again, watching reflections flounder under the surface, telling myself stories.

Elinor Taylor is originally from North Wales but escaped to Manchester at eighteen, ostensibly to study philosophy, but really to devote her time to dreaming in the rain. She currently studies English and creative writing at Salford University.

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6 Responses to “Thin Air”

  1. October 24, 2008 at 12:50 pm, Judy said:


  2. October 25, 2008 at 1:50 am, Singing in the Rain? « Wufniks said:

    […] who I found on there today? Wufniks’ old friend Elinor Tailor. You can find a story there that you can also find in Wufniks […]

  3. October 27, 2008 at 5:37 pm, Ursula said:

    A 21st century Lizzie Siddal! The cityscape is powerfully evoked.

  4. October 29, 2008 at 6:09 pm, Rachel said:

    It made want to crack a joke and say this is not very exciting is it? But then I loved the grey mundaness made powerful by description of art and colour. Loved reading it.

  5. October 30, 2008 at 1:58 pm, Sian said:

    beautiful and engaging

  6. October 31, 2008 at 2:25 pm, rob said:

    i have the same thoughts as judy.


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