Published in “THE UNDERGROUND” literary journal
Winner of the Minerva Campbell Literary Contest
“Broken angels bleed immortal art.”
I used to collect coffee mugs that I would store in my cabinet. Each of them had the name of an artist or author I loved and when everybody came to my flat to work or read a book I would give them their own coffee mug. Van Gogh usually sat by the window; he liked to watch the city instead of the television. Da Vinci liked to eat all of my chocolate when she thought I wasn’t watching. It inspired them and I still hope it inspires you because you were Picasso and I was Virginia Woolf.
You would sip from the homemade coffee mug with your name on it and stare at the canvas like you weren’t sure what was underneath—but there was something and that’s all that mattered. You’d stare for hours, seated on my kitchen floor while I typed away at my table.
Eventually you would get up, the painting not even stated yet, and take the coffee mug from my tender lips (maybe take a sip because you knew that I like hot chocolate in place of the bitter taste of the coffee bean) and kiss me until my knees were weak.
Just like that you would start the painting; like I was your muse. I loved being your muse.
But you were mine too and the thing about that is that it was so much harder for me. A painting is a painting. It’s over once done but I can’t stop writing about you. You’re everywhere.
It’s said that if you take a writer’s heart that you’ll live forever. Honey, you could have just smashed those paintings of me but they built skyscrapers of the stories I told about you.
When you left, your mug was put away. I was still Virginia Woolf, Nate was still Van Gogh and Cecile was still Da Vinci but none of that mattered anymore because when you left me behind you left the soul of Picasso gathering dust in my cabinet.
I know that you always told me that I thought like a mad woman. You don’t have to tell me twice that I sound like one now.
Our friends still come over to work every Thursday. They still read at my place on Saturdays and they still stay for dinner on Monday. We still meet for coffee every morning before work but it’s not the same. It’s not the same for them and it’s not the same for me.
Picasso is missing. What is the world without him? But I must remind myself that the world is not missing this artist—we are. I am. The world may continue with its mayhem and I may open my cabinet and wonder if I should wash that coffee mug. It’s been two weeks since anybody’s used it.
I don’t even miss you. I miss your smell and the taste of coffee in your mouth when you kissed me. I miss the way your hands caressed me at late hours. I miss the way you painted my face so that I looked beautiful.
I miss Picasso, not you.
Virginia Woolf and Picasso were only born a year apart from one another. I’m telling you all of this because she died nearly thirty years before him but I still find myself hoping that she lives ten times as long.
It’s like every time I open my cabinet to grab a mug for a friend and I see the one that used to be yours, I know that it just will never be true. I’ll simply live vicariously through you. Through my muse and through my work.
Broken angels, after all, bleed immortal art and I’ve always wanted Virginia Woolf to live forever.