Being sick has taken away the busy surface of my life. Gone are the errands and the superficial, the insubstantial, the time-wasting. Being still is forcing me to reflect on what remains.
Boil a life down to its essence. Freeze it, and see what rises.
Tucked into bed, my body is at rest, but my eyes search the room, settling on the blue armchair. Exhausted for weeks, I had been leaving my clothes on this chair instead of hanging them in the closet. The night before the surgery, seeking order and control as I contemplated having neither, I sorted through the layers of discarded clothing—returning shirts and jeans to the closet, socks to the hamper. Now as I look at the space instead of the pile, I remember keeping the chair clear because Mark liked to sit there. With sudden clarity I see myself as Matisse’s Invalid, without a face and with only heavy, somber colors to define my existence, lying in a room where an empty armchair reminds me of the choices I’ve made. 
 I knew he wanted to get married. But I thought he understood how I felt about it. That I loved him, yes; that I wanted to blur the edges, mix his stuff with mine, have him around all the time, no. I thought we were okay with this. The night he told me about the job offer in Turkey was almost two years ago. It was the night of the candles.

By eight o’clock that night, the piercing edge of the Charleston heat has disappeared. Still, there’s no relief from the thickness and the wetness of the air. I wipe my forehead. Then I knock on the door to Mark’s apartment, not waiting before I use my key. The room sparkles. Candles light every surface. Something smells spicy and hypnotic, as if one of those cartoon trails of smoke were luring me further into a lair. Captivated by the light, I push the door shut with my back.   
Mark comes out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on a dishtowel.
“If it’s sex you’re after,” I say, “wasn’t this a lot of trouble?”
“Emily, you are so—” He shakes his head and laughs. 
“Wonderful?” I say, still standing against the door, hoping only after the fact that I haven’t ruined the moment.
“Wary,” he says, coming toward me, smiling. He puts his hands around my waist. 
Relaxing, I reach up for his broad shoulders, noticing as always how solid he feels. I run my hands down his light brown corduroy shirt, which matches his freckles. 
“Anyway, sex is not what I’m after,” he says. “Although I wouldn’t refuse it.”  He gives me a kiss, and then we ease from the door into the room. 
“So what’s the occasion?” 
“How about a glass of wine?”  
I start to follow him to the kitchen, but he says he’ll bring it to me. “I put that pinot grigio you like in the freezer a little while ago.”  
Sitting on the couch, I realize his chili is what smells spicy. I take off my shoes and close my eyes, relaxing further with a deep breath. Having two little children makes me appreciate being waited on. It also makes me tired. 
When I feel Mark’s legs nudging mine, I open my eyes to see him standing in front of me holding two glasses of wine. Mine is half-full, the way I like it. His is filled to the brim, as if it were a glass of milk. 
The crisp taste of the wine revives me. “This is the life,” I say.
He sits down too close for me to be comfortable, then leans forward, resting his elbows on his thighs. “There is something I need to talk to you about—”
“I knew it.” 
“Let me finish.”  He smiles, not looking at me, putting his hands on his knees for a minute. “I’ve wanted to do the candles for you for a while. I read about it in a magazine at the dentist’s office. It is neat, isn’t it?”  He looks from one end of the room to the other.
Leaning back, holding tight to my wine glass, I can almost feel the soft flames of light that surround us—no heat, just light. “I love it.”  I give him a kiss and put my free hand on his knee. “But you’re sounding more and more like me,” I say, teasing him. “Perhaps you need a little distance?”  Mark chokes on his wine, and I move my hand to his back. Surely he’s not going to bring up marriage again. I swallow some wine quickly. 
He looks straight ahead. “You know, I’ve been scouting around for my next project. Since I’m almost through with my work for the state. And for the museum.” 
Sure I know this.
“Well, some things have come up.”
“What things?” I ask, realizing he was right. I am wary.
“Some opportunities.”  
I drain my glass.
“And I hadn’t even had a chance to talk to you about it yet. I wasn’t expecting to have to make this decision so soon.”  He looks at my glass. “Let me get you some more wine.”
“I’ll get it,” I say, hopping up, realizing I need to move away from whatever this is for a minute, which is getting too close too fast. I look back at Mark, leaning against the sofa, his cheeks a translucent red. 
What’s going on, I wonder, as I lift the wine out of the ice bin in the freezer. I fill my glass this time, take a sip, and then add another inch. It’s a small glass.
“Hey, do you need some more?”  I think to ask, holding the wine bottle and looking around his orderly little kitchen. Chili simmering on the stove. Half an onion chopped on the cutting board. A stack of bowls. 
“No. I guess I’ve been doing all the talking, and you’ve been doing all the drinking.” 
I sit back down. “Okay, tell me.”
“The chief archaeologist on the UCLA team studying the Black Sea in Turkey had a heart attack last week, and died. They’ve offered me his spot.”  He talks to the middle of the room, turning to look at me only as he finishes his sentence.
“Mark, that’s fantastic. I mean, not about the guy dying, of course, but for you.”  I put my hand on his back again. “Congratulations. How long will you be gone?”
“Well, that’s kind of the problem,” he says, speaking to my eyes. “I have to commit for five years.”
In that infinitesimally small moment before I register the words, I store the fact that when it came to the hard thing, he looked right in my eyes and told me. But I won’t realize this until much later.
“Five years?”  Now it’s my turn to choke. I put my glass on the table and look at him. “You’re thinking about doing this?”
“I’m thinking about it. I wouldn’t choose to be gone for five years, but the project demands a serious commitment. They need continuity. You know Robert Ballard, the underwater explorer who discovered the Titanic. The whole project was his idea and—”
“I can’t believe it.”  I slump back into the sofa.
“Emily, I wanted to start this conversation talking about us. But I knew you wouldn’t listen to that.”
“I didn’t know you wanted to go back over there.”
He turns his body to face me. “I love you, and I don’t want to leave you. I want us to get married. So we can be a family—you, me, Caroline and Elizabeth. Maybe have more children.” 
His full attention makes me claustrophobic. I tilt my head back for more air, inhaling and then letting out a long breath. I sit up. His dark green eyes try to lock onto mine, but I look away before they can. 
“I want to build a life with you,” he says. 
I look down at my clenched hands. I’m closing in on myself.  
Mark calms his voice to say, “You know all this.” Then he reaches over to take both my hands in his. He pulls them away from me, causing me to turn gently toward him. 
“I know you love me, Emily. I also know you think you have your life organized the way you want it.”  He grins. “Me here in my apartment and you in your house. I don’t know if you’ve never recovered from being married to Frank. Or if you’re just different from everyone else. But I do know we love each other.”  
He pauses, takes his hands away and pushes his hair back. “But here’s the thing. This job offer is too good an opportunity to pass up just so I can go out with you once or twice a week. You don’t have to decide tonight, but I’ve only got a week to let the team know my answer. I’m ready to make a commitment to you. If you’re ready, I’ll be happy to tell them my family is here. That I can’t possibly leave. But if not, Emily, I’m going to take the job. And you know I should.”
“Did it find you or did you find it?”
He stands up and puts his hands in his pockets. He moves away from the sofa. Then he turns to look at me, sitting down on the back of a chair. 
“A little of both—I’m sorry, Emily, but loving you and not having more of a life together has been rough on me lately. Plus, this is a dream job. I’ve followed the Black Sea Study since it started. And it’s hard being so close to you, and yet not with you.”
He comes over and kisses me gently on the lips, resting his hand on my head for a second. Then he goes into the kitchen. I’m stunned, no longer nervous. But I need to move. I head for the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet, I put my head in my hands. 
When I come out, Mark has the chili on the table in big red bowls. The yellow plastic squeeze bottle of French’s mustard is also on the table, surrounded by separate white bowls of oyster crackers, pickles, cubes of cheddar cheese and chopped onions. I love the way he does this.
“Do you want to switch to beer for the chili?” he asks, rinsing the cutting board, as if the last thirty minutes hadn’t happened.
“I’ll stick with wine,” I say, “but I’m getting some ice water too. You want some?”  My voice must sound as fragile to him as it does to me, because he looks at me, and lets the cutting board fall into the sink. His wet hands reach for me as if I were an injured child. It’s odd that I didn’t notice feeling that way, but I heard it in my voice. He holds me for what feels like not nearly long enough. I love this man. I can’t bear for him to go. 
Then he gets his Amstel Light. I get my wine and fix two waters. Although I want to hear about the job, I’m unable to ask the questions. We agree not to talk about it anymore tonight. After supper, Mark follows me to my house so the babysitter can go. We fall on the bed to watch TV. I’m overcome by exhaustion. The next thing I know, it’s dark and quiet. I look at the clock. 3:07. The TV’s off. I’m covered up. Mark is gone.

As I pick up my water glass from the bedside table, my hand brushes against the framed note card of Matisse’s painting, The Breakfast. I first saw this painting when I was nine years old, younger than Caroline is now. Even at that age, the once-upon-a-times had already cast their spell on me. When I grew up, I would fall in love, get married, have children and live happily ever after. But on my first trip to a museum, I became enchanted by the world of art—and by one painting in particular. I knew, with the certainty that only a child can have, that this painting would be as much a part of my life story as falling in love and getting married. Almost thirty years later, my life is not quite what my little girl mind envisioned, but Matisse is still a part of the story. And so is this painting.
I lean on my elbow to swallow water and a pill. Then I lie back down. I had a hard time in the hospital, more from the morphine than the surgery. I itched during the first night, then began to throw up. I was so nauseated I could barely open my eyes to answer basic questions. Then the doctor switched me to a different medication, something without opium. I’m not sure what they sent me home with, but it’s working, floating me between the past and the present, allowing me to avoid the pain of staying in one place for too long.  My eyes drift to the hazy blue Charleston sky, framed by the floor length gauze drapes, which lie still against the windows, closed against the hot, empty afternoon.

The night after the candles, Mark comes over around six to eat supper, and to talk. He cleans up while I give the girls a bath and turn on a video. When I come into the kitchen, he has all the information spread out on the table. He’s looking through a large notebook. I sit down and pick up one of the brochures, which shows a map of the world on one side and a large map of Turkey on the other. Mark puts his notebook down to show me Cairo, where he did his graduate work. Then he shows me Sinop, in northern Turkey, bordering the Black Sea.
“What are y’all doing?” Caroline asks, wandering into the kitchen. At five and a half, her thick, brown hair clashes with her thin body and serious eyes, but her nightgown, robe, and slippers all match. She wouldn’t have it any other way. 
“We’re looking at maps of Turkey. Mark might go to work there.”
“Can I see?”
He puts her on his lap and shows her where we are and where Turkey is. Then in comes Elizabeth.
“Ice cream?” she says, always getting right to the point. And I don’t think it’s only because she’s two either. 
I watch Elizabeth lean against Mark. Although both have red hair, Mark’s is bright orange red (not as bright as it used to be), and Elizabeth’s is darker, brownish red with lots of blonde highlights. Actually, every time I notice it lately, it seems more blonde, probably from being outside this summer. I know she got the blonde from her father, but I like to think she got the red through osmosis, Mark being the one who was with me the last months of my pregnancy and the one who was there when she was born.
He reaches to pick her up too, one on one knee and one on the other. He shows her where Turkey is. She says, “Gobble, gobble, gobble,” and laughs. Then Caroline starts doing it. When I hand them bowls of ice cream, I suggest they take them back to the den. I pour Mark and me a glass of wine and also fix myself a Perrier with lime. I take a big sip of the water, and sit back down. 
“This is incredibly exciting,” he says, not looking up. “The goal of the project is to discover a possible trade route across the Black Sea. Then Ballard hopes to find ship wrecks that could tell us about civilizations from ancient Greece to Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire. But the Black Sea is huge.”  He turns a page in the notebook. “They’ve already discovered enough to suggest that there were Bronze Age, Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman settlements around Sinop. Remains of a Hellenistic temple still exist, and those of a Roman bath complex.”  He pauses to take a sip of wine, finally looking at me.
“So you’ve decided to go?”
“My first choice is to stay here and marry you,” he says grinning. “I’m really just a family man at heart.”  
I believe him. But I’m not smiling. This is not an easy subject for me. I watch him close the notebook. Looking into space, I listen to it slide as he pushes it away. He reaches for my hand across the table, causing me to look into his face. 
“I’m serious, Emily. I love you. I want to marry you.”
“But this project is something you shouldn’t turn down,” I say, staring at the notebook.
“I’ll turn it down in a second, happily.”  He puts his glass down and takes my other hand, scooting his chair around the corner of the table to be closer to me, to face me with nothing between us. 
“Marry me, Emily.”
Yes, I almost say, feeling as if he’s drawing me toward him by a force over which I have no control. I can’t think clearly. 
I take my hands back and stand up. Then I remember. I don’t want to get married. 
Much later—too late—I’ll realize I should have trusted the “yes,” but at the time, it felt as if it were being forced upon me. And in a way, it was. Not by Mark, as I thought then, but by my heart, struggling against my head—my head which was focused on what had become so precious to me after taking care of Caroline and Elizabeth—time to myself. All I wanted was to guard what little I had, not open myself up to lose more.
“Mark, I love you,” I say, backing toward the kitchen counter. “But I don’t want to get married. You know that.” 
We look at each other, the sound of the TV from the den in the background. 
“Don’t you feel anything?” Mark asks.
I look down. I don’t have time to feel things. I have a full life—as in no room for anything else. I look back at him. “You don’t know what it’s like taking care of two small children. It requires so much of me. I just do the next thing. I don’t have the time, or the space in my head, for a husband, for you being here all the time, for thinking about what you want.”  My voice trails off. “There wouldn’t be enough time for me.” 
“God, Emily.”  He spits the words out and scoots his chair back. 
“You know I love you.”
“After that speech?”
“I do love you. And I don’t want you to leave.”
“Show me you love me,” he says, staring at me.
My heart feels tight, but I ignore it.
“Why Emily, why can’t you show me you love me?”
He asks this, but as if he already knows the answer.
All I hear is the TV. Then Mark stands up. He walks to the other side of the kitchen, opens a drawer, and then slams it shut. “You love me when you want to. It’s like you keep me in a box that you open at your convenience. God forbid it should be open all the time, and I should spill into your life and mess it up.”
“Why are you making me feel that knowing what I want and being in control of what I want are bad things? There’s no sense in getting carried away. I’m being realistic, and practical. I decide what I want and how I should feel. Then I make myself feel that way.”
“Can you hear yourself?”
“Well, I don’t want to be at the mercy of my feelings. I want my head, my reasoning self, to be in control. Not my feelings.”  Turning my back to him, I put my hands on the counter. I pick up a spoon, squeeze it hard, and then let it slip out of my hand. It barely makes a sound.
I hear him coming toward me and turn around quickly. 
He stops, crumpling into the chair as if I had put my hand on his head and crushed him like a drink can. “How do you ever know—why can’t you just let go?” 
“I don’t like to feel bad,” I say, looking down at my bare feet. I don’t want to need you to be happy.
I hear him shift in his chair. I feel him looking at me.
“I’ll tell you right now that I’m afraid of losing you,” he says. “I need you. I need someone I can turn to. We know each other. We take care of each other. We give each other a place in the world to belong.”
“Emily, please.”
I don’t look at him.
The sounds of his packing up the brochures and papers and scooting the chair under the table seem far away. Then I feel him standing there, close, looking at me. “Bye,” he says. I continue to stare away blankly. I feel him pause again at the edge of the kitchen. “I didn’t think you’d let me go,” he says. And then I hear the front door open, and close. 
Caroline comes into the kitchen without her bowl. “Where’s Mark?” she asks.

 The light starts to fade outside, the beginning of dusk at the end of my first day home from the hospital. Inside, in bed, I enjoy the gradual lessening of light, as I listen to the sweet sounds of Caroline and Elizabeth playing in the kitchen. Although they’re only a hall and a dining room away, I feel as if I’m in a separate world, the world of the bedroom, cut off from the normal order of things. 
My sister Pat arrived this morning, immediately taking charge. Actually, arriving and taking charge are synonymous when it comes to Pat. It’s a disorienting feeling, not being able to take care of myself. Yet, accepting help comes naturally, because this is not a “middle ground” situation. I cannot take care of myself right now. I close my eyes. A sudden pain scatters my thoughts and connects me to my body. I turn gently to lie on my left side.
There, in front of me on the bed, is Matisse on Art, a trade paperback, the words of Henri Matisse. The spine fits easily in my right hand as I slide it toward me. Of all my books on Matisse, this one has always been special—not a part of my professional life, but part of my personal one. I keep it at home, not in my office at the museum, even though I often speak on Matisse.   
Carefully, I sit back up, fluffing the two pillows behind me, putting the book in my lap, my hands on top. My body needs to rest, but my mind needs something concrete to latch on to. When Matisse was twenty years old, he had to stay in bed recovering from a serious illness—I wish I knew I was recovering, but only time will apply that word to my time in bed. His mother bought him a paint box with two pictures in the lid to copy, to distract him from feeling miserable. Matisse said, “From the moment I held the box of colours in my hand, I knew this was my life.”  I understand now; this was the key for Matisse, the way he discovered who he was and the way he expressed himself. “Above all,” he said, “the great thing is to express one’s self.”
Although I’m avoiding my own thoughts by turning to Matisse, his words send me back to myself. Tilting my head up from the book, my eyes are pulled to the window. The muted light is mere background. I’m not looking, but thinking. I wish it could be that easy, someone handing me a “box of colors,” a key to figure out who I am. Now thirty-eight, I think of all the years that I’ve made decisions and acted the way I wanted my life to be, oblivious to any feelings, foolishly ignoring or burying them. 
That night in the kitchen, my words confirmed what I had previously only suspected. My relationship with Frank had caused a disturbance, which over the years had resulted in a shift in my thoughts and feelings. On the surface I was the same, but as Mark got closer, as he reached deeper into my life, it seemed there was a part of me I didn’t recognize. This shift was gradual, and occurred underground. It wasn’t until Mark forced me to take a stand that I knew my attitude about relationships had changed. That night in the kitchen it was clear. A new layer had formed around my heart. A protective layer. It said don’t depend on anyone. Rely only on yourself. Don’t let anyone else control your happiness. 
The discovery of this layer explained why even with Mark, the man I loved, I was no longer looking for the fairy tale ending. I would make my own happiness, and if Mark could be a part of it, great. It didn’t occur to me until after Mark was gone to wonder what was under the after-Frank layer, to wonder about my core, to wonder if perhaps I needed to expose this protective layer, to dig through it to discover what I truly wanted from life. And from Mark.

In the week or so before he leaves, Mark and I see each other, with the girls and alone, but it’s not the same. There’s a holding back on his side that feels artificial to me. I’m not tempted to change my mind. I’m not sure if he would even stay at this point. He already seems far away, always busy, making calls or packing. 

I look at the rumpled covers of the bed and remember a photograph of Matisse in his bed. I don’t remember what book it’s in, nor do I have the strength to look for it. So I close my eyes and concentrate. I see him with a white beard, sitting up, a cluttered table across his lap and a plaid quilt at the foot of the bed. Some of his cutouts are pinned on the wall, and he’s drawing next to them, with what looks like a long stick. A bird cage sits on the floor. Being in bed didn’t stop Matisse from anything.
I open my eyes and look around my bedroom now, the last light of day blending into darkness. Turning on the light on the bedside table, my eyes go forward over my thinning blue-gray comforter, which reveals the outline of my legs, to my old mahogany chest at the foot of the bed. My art books rise up from the chest, neatly stacked, largest to smallest. All three windows, one to my right and the two in front of me, remain closed against the dark summer heat. A tall palm stands in the corner between the windows, softening the effect of the TV beside it. A framed poster of a Whitney Museum exhibit of Edward Hopper paintings highlights his Cape Cod Afternoon, 1936—no people, just a sprawling house against the still afternoon, an afternoon like the one earlier today. Across the room, the deep blues of Matisse’s Landscape viewed from a Window, Tangiers, announcing a Paris exhibit, add another window to the room, the white drapes from the poster a link to the white gauze drapes of this room. Looking straight ahead, my chest of drawers shows no sign of clutter, and nothing of anyone else’s. I take a quick look. Nothing of anyone else’s anywhere. Turning sharply to my right, I see no one either. No Mark. Only the empty blue armchair. 
My hand goes to my eyes to shut out the image, but I’m unable to shut off the thoughts. I must go through this by myself, like I’ve been so proud of doing everything else. I’ve changed, though, my mind and my heart. But now it looks as if I want Mark only because I’m sick. Yet that’s not true. Before I knew I was sick, I had already discovered that I should never have let him go. I always knew I loved him. What I didn’t know was that I would feel a space, a lack of color, without him. 

Mark has come to say good-bye. As I open the door, I smile, but he doesn’t respond. His blank eyes make him seem tired, older. When Caroline speaks to him, his mouth goes through the motions of a smile, and he picks her up. She’s still in her pink nightgown, her hair brushed in the front, what she could see in the mirror, but not in the back. She put a little pink plastic barrette on each side, but they’re holding just a few strands of hair and are beginning to slide down.
I shut the door, and the air conditioner roars on. “Peek-a-boo,” Elizabeth says from between my legs in her batman shorty pjs that she loves, hand-me-downs from a friend’s son. 
“I see you,” Mark says flatly, scooping her up in his other arm. He gives the girls a hug and puts them down. They run back to the TV.
“Are you ready?” I ask.
“I need to stop by the drugstore on the way to the airport. My flight leaves at twelve twenty-two.”  He looks at his watch, then everywhere but at me.
“And when do you get to Turkey?”
“Ten twenty-five tomorrow morning. To Istanbul. I spend a couple of days there before I go to Sinop.”
“Are you excited?”
“Look, Emily,” he says, taking a breath and exhaling deeply, his body softening. He leans against the wall between the front door and the kitchen, taking my shoulder with his hand and gently pulling me in front of him, finally looking at me. “I don’t want to draw this out. We haven’t used the exact words, but we’ve been saying good-bye for the last week. Now it seems like we’re killing time. I’m not going to hang around. I’m just going.”
“But it’s only nine o’clock. I thought we’d have time before you left.”  I look toward the kitchen. “The coffee’s already made.”
“It’s too hard.”
”I wish you weren’t going—”
He holds up his hand to stop my words. He looks at me for just a second, and then he kisses me, a long, deep kiss that feels like it wants something. That makes me want him. He buries his face in my neck. He smells like soil, like a garden, like the earth. I feel him breathing me in.  
And then he’s hugging the girls. And then he’s at the door. He gives me a quick kiss and then he’s gone. 
I don’t open the door to give him another hug. I don’t look out the window to wave good-bye. I don’t watch his car back out the driveway. 

Looking back on that time, for the woman he loved and who loved him to have no reaction to his leaving, Mark must have felt as if a black wall had suddenly appeared in front of him, with this woman on the other side of it, out of his reach. Just as the color red in Matisse’s The Red Studio covers everything except the works of art, here, it’s as if the color black came out of that black wall to cover the woman’s heart and soul, to cover everything except the woman’s head. 
The pressure of what was at stake was too much for me to handle. Fear took over. All I could do was save myself the only way I knew how. Close in instead of reach out. My heart shut down to preserve itself. Working with reason alone, I told myself to feel nothing, and I let him go.
Now, as I push my book to the other side of the bed so I can sleep, I notice the picture of Mark and the girls on that night table—he’s smiling right at me, yet he’s so far away. Then, as I turn out the light, I see the picture of The Breakfast beside me. Matisse on one side, Mark on the other. 

After recuperating at home for a week, my life retakes its old shape. I put back on the same clothes I wore before the surgery, trying to understand how only two years ago I could have discarded my feelings for Mark as easily as I discard my clothes at the end of the day. Some things are different, though. Now there’ll be constant visits to the doctors, therapy, uncertainty.
Tonight, however, it’s still the familiar. The girls are tucked into their beds, and I’m turning out the lights of the house one by one—kitchen, den, hall. These places look the same, yet I feel different, farther away. In an essay on travel, Matisse wrote about how it’s good to “stop the usual mental routine and take a voyage that will let parts of the mind rest while other parts have free rein—especially those parts repressed by the will. This respite permits a withdrawal and consequently an examination of the past.”  The voyages he was writing about were to Tahiti and America, but I think his words apply to my recent voyages in the bedroom as well.
Now in my room, I look at the alarm clock. Midnight here. Six in the morning in Turkey. I start to turn out the lamp by my bed, but pushing up from inside is a need to call Mark, to tell him I made a mistake. I open the drawer of the bedside table, moving bookmarks, lip balm, cards and pens around until I find the scrap of paper with Mark’s number on it. As I reach for the phone, I knock my empty coaster off the table. I intend to pick it up, but the flat pitch of the dial tone stops my forward motion. It’s as if I can hear the distance I put between us. And I just sit there, holding the receiver, unable to dial the number, unable to connect; knowing that after two years, it’s too late.
When I turn out the light, I dream of my life as a painting, an incomplete painting. Knowing a color is missing, I search for the box of colors, unable to find it, unable to complete the painting.   

Cynthia Newberry Martin lives in Columbus, Georgia. “The Empty Armchair” is loosely based on her first novel, The Painting Story, a finalist in the 2008 Emory University Novel Contest.

Read another story by Cynthia Newberry Martin: “Frosting”Frosting.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0









THE WATCHFUL HEARTAutumn-2009.htmlDarwin.htmlDarwin.htmlWinter.htmlWinter.htmlTravelogue.htmlTravelogue.htmlBreathe.htmlBreathe.htmlNiceties.htmlNiceties.htmlDry_Street.htmlDry_Street.htmlRobinson_Jeffers.htmlReviews.htmlCoetzee-2.htmlMoore.htmlHaskell.htmlArsenault.htmlRayner.htmlWatchful_Heart.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1shapeimage_3_link_2shapeimage_3_link_3shapeimage_3_link_4shapeimage_3_link_5shapeimage_3_link_6shapeimage_3_link_7shapeimage_3_link_8shapeimage_3_link_9shapeimage_3_link_10shapeimage_3_link_11shapeimage_3_link_12shapeimage_3_link_13shapeimage_3_link_14shapeimage_3_link_15shapeimage_3_link_16shapeimage_3_link_17shapeimage_3_link_18shapeimage_3_link_19shapeimage_3_link_20shapeimage_3_link_21shapeimage_3_link_22
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