By Lynn Clement
The thing I most liked about Sherrington Woods was the colour in the fading sun of late autumn. Copper and dun woven together to lay a patterned carpet along our path. The early mornings, when Jack had waved his spiky fingers, crisping the edges of each rustic leaf. Where white webs that were woven overnight, wrapped themselves round our faces, sticky and clinging and complex. It makes me shiver now. But it was the surprise of the hoary headed mushrooms, unexpectedly emerging through the earth in the damp shade of the leaden oak, which reminds me of you. And what was.
‘Hello Jessy, how are you?’ A voice interrupts my thoughts.
‘I’m good David,’ I reply.
‘I’m loving your painting Jessy, it’s really taking shape now.’
‘Yes,’ I say.
David means well, but he doesn’t understand. No one will ever understand.
‘Do you have all the colours that you need?’ He asks.
‘Sure,’ I give.
Red is red, is red; I think - except when it’s scarlet.
I need David to leave me alone now. He usually does, wafting off to go and help some other deserving soul. I have to get this bit right. His eyes dart around the room, he does this all the time. Today there are only four of us, so he shouldn’t be so uptight. Lauren is sick. And that’s the truth. Unfortunately that means he’ll have more time for me.
Yellow and red makes orange, like fire. The story of our relationship really. You mellow yellow and me blood red. Then you turned grey. Fungus like. Sucking the colour out of me.
I bought a cherry red hair dye, just like in that photo you secreted in your bedside drawer. The one with the scarlet lipstick kiss on it.
But you didn’t like it. ‘It’s not you,’ you said. It’s not her, you meant. So I went back to black, and made vermillion lines on my arms instead.
‘Does the pallet knife help with the texture, Jessy?’ David again from across the room.
‘Yes, thank you,’
The broad blade spreads the thick claret colour across the sienna, just like it did that day. Oozing and mingling and pooling on the orange and brown, rusty splashed carpet.
I can see David approaching from the corner of my eye and I know what he’s going to say.
‘Oh, you’ve spoiled your painting, Jessy,’ – just as I’d anticipated, so I lift the knife.
He hits the red button, and they come for me.
I’ll start the painting again, next time I’m allowed out.
Sherrington Woods was so lovely.