Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Art of Enigma

Silver, by Maria
With Enigma II being released next week, I thought I might give some little tasters, not only of the text but also the artwork that brings to life my wonderful characters.


Can love ever be forbidden? Can the strongest of all human emotions be denied because someone tells you it cannot be?
When Silver made his decision he very nearly paid with his life. Now River is faced with his choice believing that it is only his career at stake. However, when Silver’s past catches up with him River finds that there is more at stake than he could ever have imagined.


The painting is... it is... it is by far the best he has done so far.  The colours are muted; earth tones of ochre, terracotta and peach with splashes of purple and grey.  Essentially it is of a figure reclining on a couch, a blanket draped over his legs and his arm raised over his head, the elbow bent.
There are very few other details to detract from the figure.  The background is terracotta and ochre with purple swirls at the edges as if everything else apart from this one scene, has just faded into the background.  However, the lack of detail in the background is more than made up for by the incredible detail on the couch, the blanket and the figure that lies between the two.
The figure is naked, of course all of Silver’s subjects are naked, except for the couple and their child who wander the gentle rounded landscapes.  This is not a shock; neither is the sheer brilliance of the work.  The thing that shocks me; that astonishes me and, frankly that scares the hell out of me, is the fact that the figure is me.
“Don’t you like it, River?  I thought you would like it.  I worked hard. I... I wanted... I really wanted you to...” He pauses and bites his lip, “... to like it.”
Siler by Maria
The anxiousness in his voice finally gets through to me and I turn and smile at him, trying to force my whirling emotions back into their box and keep them from my eyes and voice.
“Of course I like it. How could I not like it?  It’s awesome.  It’s the best you’ve done.  You really are talented, Silver.  I can’t believe how fast you paint.”
“This one wasn’t fast. I have been working on it in between other things for a long time.  I wanted to get it just right.” The pride in his voice is so beautiful to hear.  It has been such a long time since he has had pride in anything, least of all himself.
“And you have. It’s just... just...” I might as well have hit him.  His eyes widen and then drop and his lips tremble.
“You don’t like it.” His voice is flat; emotionless.
“No!  No, it isn’t that I don’t like it. I do like it: I like it a lot.” A spark of hope lights in his eyes and some of the excitement comes back.  “It’s just... It’s just a bit of a shock; seeing myself like that.  I didn’t think...” I take a deep breath and plough on. “Thinking that… that you see me like... like that.  It’s… unsettling; uncomfortable.”
I try to be honest without hurting his feelings again.  I breathe a sigh of relief. He is smiling again.
“I could say that I see everyone like that; but I’m not sure that’s true.  I don’t think I see Dr Marshall like that.” He looks at me, pondering. “Although, that might be interesting for my next project.”
I splutter, my mind trying to imagine Dr Marshall in that position but balking from the task.  Silver is giggling too: and then he isn’t.  He’s moved without me hearing or noticing and suddenly he is very close; too close; uncomfortably close.
“River; I know what you think.  I know what you are going to say, and you’re right but; at the same time; you’re wrong.  I know that my life has not been... normal. I know that I still have a lot of twisted ideas and conditioning and I know that they will confuse me and cause... difficulties but...”
He steps closer still and I know that I should turn away; push him away; run away: but I can’t move.  I stare into his eyes as he leans closer.  He is taller than me; not much but I am still looking up at him.
“I know how I feel about you, River.”
River and Silver
Shit!  “No Silver.” I step back and put my hand on his chest, holding him at arm’s length.  “You can’t think like this.  It’s not right.  You’re right; you are confused.  You can’t trust your feelings about this.” Trying to ignore his crushed look, I press on.  “I’m the first person you have been close to; the first person you have felt safe with.  I am your first friend since David and it is understandable that you feel... that you think there is more than there is. 
“Please; don’t think that I don’t like you.  Don’t think that we have to stop being friends but I can’t… I can’t be anything more.
“When you leave here you will make friends; many friends.  You are so beautiful that you will be surrounded by people who will fall in love with you.  Give it time; give it space and let your emotions, your feelings, have time to settle.  You’ve been in a very... unreal environment for so long.  You don’t know what love is. It will take time for you to work out what you want in a partner.”
“Don’t underestimate me, River,” he says softly. “I know what I want.  I know how to love.”
“I don’t doubt that you do: I just don’t think you know how to recognise it right now; how to separate it from... other things.”
“Lust you mean? Oh I know all about that too.  I know that lust is all about taking; and love about giving.  Only once have I willingly given my body to another person; only once; and I know the difference, River.  Believe me; I know.”
I am falling deeper and deeper into his eyes with every word he says.  They hypnotise me with their intensity; their strangeness.  I want to... I want to... My hand is trembling against his chest and I know he feels it.  “You think you do.”  My voice is hoarse and I swallow hard to clear it.  “Silver: it makes no difference.  It can’t be.  I’m your carer and you are vulnerable at the moment.  Whatever you think; whatever you feel, that is the truth.  I am the professional here and I have to keep a professional distance.  What you are asking; what you are looking for is impossible.”
Silver’s eyes turn cold.  “Are you saying, then, that you were just pretending to be my friend?  That all along, all you have been is a carer; a professional; a counsellor, and never a friend?”
“No; that’s not it, not it at all.  Of course I have been your friend, I am your friend but... There’s a line Silver; a line I can’t cross.  Please understand that.  I will be your friend. I will always be your friend; but nothing more.”
Silver looks at me and his eyes change.  They are no longer cold but burning with something I have never seen there before.  Batting away my powerless arm he steps closer and his eyes; those eyes; those strange, hypnotic eyes bore into mine.

“Can you really tell me that line has not been crossed?  I have seen you watch me. I have seen your eyes; and yesterday, when you put my finger in your mouth...” His voice is husky and his eyes... Oh God. Oh God!  How can I tell him he’s wrong?  How can I say no when my heart is screaming Yes! Yes! Yes!
Silver by Maria


River had always known that living with a freed slave, even one as sweet as Silver, was never going to be easy. It gets a lot harder when his parents are killed leaving him to care for his young brother. When Social Services get involved he has a choice to make. Unfortunately, he makes the wrong one.

“It... it was the hospital. My parents have been in an accident. They... they’re dead.”
“Oh, God. River I’m... I... don’t know what to say. It’s so terrible.”
“Yeah. I... wasn’t close to them, at least not for the last few years. They didn’t exactly disown me when I came out to them but they didn’t take it too well either.”
“Came out of what?”
I smile. I can’t help it. He’s so sweet. “’Coming out’ means telling people, usually people close to you, that you’re gay.”
“Oh.” I can see he doesn’t understand.
“There’re a lot of people who think it’s wrong, even evil for a man to love another man.”
“Why?” He looks really confused now. I sigh. I wish we’d never got into this conversation. It’s a wonder we’ve never had it before, but Silver’s so innocent, so accepting the whole concept of prejudice is alien to him. He’s kind of got his head round racial prejudice. Although, I don’t think he really understands the concept that one person could hurt another because of where they live or what colour their skin is. There’s no way he is going to be able to understand why they’d do it because of who we love.
“I can't really answer that. There are some, religious people, who say that it’s banned in the Bible and is vile and an abomination to God.”
“I’ve read the Bible. It isn’t very nice.”
“In some places it isn’t, no.”
“I don’t remember reading where it says that love is evil. Doesn’t it say that love is holy?”
“Only some kinds, it seems.”
“Silver,” I say gently, knowing what he’s like. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can have this conversation right now. I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“I’m sorry, River. I know I get carried away. You must be feeling awful.”
“I am but... but that’s not all. My brother was in the car with them.”
“You have a brother?”
“Yes, he’s twelve.”
“Is he going to die too?”
“No. He... I don’t think he’s badly hurt but, with my parents gone, he’s alone.”
“But he can’t be, River. He’s the same age as I was… as Matthew was. You can't let something bad happen to him like it happened to me. Can’t you bring him home to live here, with us?”
My beautiful, beautiful boy keeps on surprising me. I was paralysed with pain and fear and Silver, ever the pragmatist, went straight to the heart of the problem and found a solution, without even trying.


Ariel by Maria

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