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              Watercolor Stains

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My partner has long fingers, drawn and elegant like swans streaking
far across the surface of a lake. Fingers made to stroke the dipping
ivory facade of a piano and make it scream with joy. Fingers made to
whirl through the air and trap spinning threads of words too beautiful
for me to count or touch or...
Love.

Most of all, his are fingers that can hold a paintbrush and construct
worlds of charcoal, oil, watercolor, and even rubbery acrylic- worlds
that I only wish I could visit. Worlds that must have haunted him.

Mulder is an artist.

I should have known by his hands, but I first discovered it one day
stumbling into his apartment. I had gone there unannounced for no
reason other than to randomly breathe his essence. He hadn't been
there, and boredom of waiting had set in.
I wandered.
There was a room in the back of the apartment, hidden away behind
a curtain of disarmingly intangible clouds of dust and musty old
blankets.
The room was filled with dark and gloom, but when a light was
flicked on-
Oh, God-
At that moment, I realized that he was more beautiful than I'd
ever been able to fathom in my entire life.
I saw his paintings. None had been finished. Some had even been
slashed.
but
Oh
God.

They were beautiful.

Images had leapt out at me, some subtle, some glaring. They burn in
my mind, even now, as I lay in my empty motel bed...
The memory engulfs me whole, vivid and glimmering like some half-
forgotten dream, drawing me into his world once more....

A waterfall of rich green fell shimmering gold-white softly into a
pool of richness he had not yet filled in. A lone black figure raced
across the sky, arms and fingers reaching into tethered nothingness.
A tree stood in a vain attempt at solidity, in the midst of ethereal
swirling winds of doubt. A world stood still, not green-blue-white,
but rich colors that I cannot even describe. They were colors that
had become his language, an archaic lovely tongue untranslatable to
any but the speaker. Colors that had made me believe that the world
was a thing of light- no shadow, no fear.
He had slashed that idyllic-world painting in two.
In the far corner rich dabbles of sweetness called to me. I
pulled out one painting, hidden behind a solemn tapestry spun with
the suggestion of rich brocade and dense burgundy.
It was a swirl of red-gold orange like the rising sun trapped between
paper thin layers of cloud. Its smooth brightness intermingled tightly
with blurs of icy sky-blue.
I can't remember how long I stared at it before I realized that he
had painted me.
The painting was a distorted mirror, but a mirror all the same.
I'd always hated mirrors, in whatever form, and I hid the
painting back in its original place.
The last painting that caught my eye was a faded watercolor, whose
colors had never been bright. Pristine and ghostlike, the remains of
two figures blurred together, and it looked as if the painting had
been repeatedly soaked in harsh, cold water to fade the figures and
blur them together ever more.
It reminded me of us. After all, we were nothing more than blurs
of paint that had once been vibrant, washed away by cold splashes of
fear, pain, desolation, and the tortures brought on by our crusade...

After that watercolor, I looked at no more of his paintings.

I left before he returned, and spoke none of it to him upon
returning to work.

My thoughts finished themselves with a quiet swallow of regret.
The memory done replaying in my mind, I rose from the cold bed,
stumbling towards the single desk of the room. I tapped the end of
my pen on the desk, trying achingly to concentrate on our latest
case.
Girl-child murders.
Day dawned, the sun rising idly, and not for me.
I locked myself in my motel room and gnawed my lip until it bled.
Slowly but methodically, I clawed the top of my wrist open.
Outside it rained cold innocence, turning the sky dark, separated,
and split into sharp flashes of insolence. The day flew by
quickly, filled only with death, madness, and haunted memories of
dying little girls.
After the last autopsy, I could no longer stop myself. I ran, away
from the tiny mutilated body, away from the blood, away from myself.
The steel doors of the morgue swung behind me as I ignored the
confused cries of the investigators I had been with. I ran through
the rain, ran with the blood on my hands and my face and my fingers.
The rain didn't wash the little girl's violated blood away, or mine.
I ran in blind ignorance, ran until I realized that
no matter how hard I tried and fast I ran, I could never outrun
myself. Finally I fell on my knees into the cold wet mud and sodden
grass. Reaching outwards, my wet fingers grazed the
molten bark of a tree. I used it to pull myself upwards, and hugged
it tightly, leaning my forehead against it. Beneath my half shut eyes,
the world twisted and turned in rough blurs of green and brown.
I wept.
I wasn't aware of the tears as stilted gulps and sobs came
catching all up my chest through my throat. I could only sense the
pain. I was only aware of how cold the rain was and the way it pooled
down my back to soak me and fade me further than the vanishing
watercolor that I already was. The bark of the tree was rough even
in the rain, and I scraped the fragile skin of my forehead against it
until it tore.
The warm weight of a hand settled hesitantly on my shoulder.
How he had followed me or even kept up, I didn't know, but he was
there. He gathered me into his arms inelegantly, as if holding a tiny
glass doll that should have broken in his grasp. We leaned against the
tree in a vain effort to stay upright, to keep a grasp on something
that was solid and real. Pretending that we were as substantial as
the tree or any oil painting could be, he held me as the hot tears
mingled with the cold rain. I screamed and screamed and screamed
inside until my long suffering psyche simply disintegrated in
exhaustia. I should have gone limp, the torn rag doll that I was, but I
scraped against the tree, keeping myself upright.
And he held me. I don't know for how long, and at what damage to
himself, but he held me until the rain slowly stopped.
Safe in his embrace, my thoughts turned and twisted like clouds on a
windy day.
I wondered if we would ever be more than watercolors; pale, resplendent
figures fading away and blurring more infinitely together with each
steady fall of rain and wash of water. We should have been the oil he
had painted me as, bright and swirling, untouched by any sort of
storm or cold splash of water that could have chanced our way.
The rain slowly stopped, as the sun crept hesitantly back, shining
visible rays of iridescence through the breaks in the torn clouds.
A pure shaft of that sweet phosphorescence paused momentarily on
Mulder's face, and he closed his eyes gently at its brief warmth.
Stroking my cheek with the back of his hand, he pushed a few damp
dark curls away from my eyes. He was murmuring softly. I couldn't
hear his words over the steady buzz of my own thoughts, but was
thankful for them all the same. I took the hand he had lain upon my
face, and pulled it closer in a subtle acknowledgment.
I wondered if he would try to make this moment into an oil.
He leaned his forehead against mine, a torn soul meeting torn skin.
A heat flared between us, blistering and painful. It was the usual
electric current filled with hallways and déjà vu. Fear sparked in his
eyes, and he pulled away, letting me go.
I suddenly realized why Mulder never finished his paintings.
Longing and desire answered would make, in his eyes, a meaningless
painting.
Thus, it must have been better never to consummate the painting.
Damn him for his dependency on loneliness and pain.
It was a dependency I could have broken him of, had I not already been
broken by years of being slowly washed away in shakes of cold rain
and water.
I made no effort towards him when he pulled away.
He made an awkward deadpan comment to forget the moment. A hard cold
dull pain resounded in my chest, pounding and fluttering with large
wings. He began to walk away, expecting me to follow.
I paused, wondering if we could become oil paintings if I could walk
away from him just this once.
There had been a time when I could have left him behind, and found a
new paintbrush to make me whole again. But that had been a time before
the rain seemed to fall everyday.
The moment of clear thought passed, leaving only the urgent need I
had every time he left me behind, like a cup with a hole at the bottom
that could never be filled.
Wiping a stagnant remainder of tears away with the soggy edge of my
muddy sleeve, I began to walk after him, knowing that we would always
remain like this.
I followed him through the invisible wisps of evaporating water.
I always would.
After all, we were nothing more than faded watercolor stains,
unfinished, and fading into nothingness together.




.finis.

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end notes-

a big thank you to per-mel for her beta-reading and
support, but most of all, for her friendship

this was inspired not only by watching Mulder sculpt in 'Grotesque',
but also by a technique I sometimes use when painting in watercolor.
I can't remember the exact name, but it involves applying the paint
to your canvas, then putting it in a tray of water, and gently
shaking until the colors blur and fade together. You then remove the
painting when it has been faded to the desired degree, and allow it to
dry (or else paint from there, since it's easier to paint on a wet
surface than a dry surface when working with watercolor)
This creates a very evocative, and ultimately haunting image.

This vignette is dedicated to the memory of a former fellow artist
and friend, Jonathan Long (1981-1998). The idyllic world painting
and foliage waterfall described in Mulder's paintings were inspired
by 2 of Jon's own beautiful paintings.
Jonathan commited suicide less than a year ago.
Please reach out to all the people you love, even those who seem
to not need to know that you love them. Those people are usually
the people that need to know the most.
Jon- I'm sorry... I miss you. I love you. God take care of you.

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