That was the word he used. She was sure it was the word he had used. It stuck in her head, repeating itself over and over again: annihilation… annihilation… annihilation!
Why had he chosen that word? What could he have meant by it?
More important, why, with all the people in the room, did he approach her, and utter that one word?
She shrugged it off at the time, although it had been a bit weird. It was a party, after all, with lighthearted chatter. Everyone was talking about her artwork displayed around the gallery, and about the latest government funding cutbacks, the shitty weather outside, and who was dating whom. Everyone was having a good time. Everyone except this one man, who chose to approach her and quietly utter the word: annihilation!
Was it a result of her art? Her work of late had been darker, more intense, than her previous collections. Maybe he was just expressing his feelings about the work in the only word that came to his mind.
No sooner had he spoken that word but he disappeared into the crowd. She was unable to find him again that night to ask him what he had meant. Hard as she tried, that word echoed in her mind as she smiled and attempted to carry on with what were now mundane conversations about mundane subjects, her art included. She wanted to know what he meant and she could not break free from the crowd to pursue this, to get some answer, some closure to this puzzle.
As the night wound to a close the word floated to the back of her mind. She was exhausted from the days preparations for this gallery showing and her feet hurt from the fashionable but ridiculously high heels she had chosen to wear. Heavens help her if she failed to live up to the expectations of her fans and show up in sensible boots and jeans. She was an icon, and icons have to maintain the image at all costs. Anything else would have been sacrilegious! She was the star and the star must shine in all its glory. The higher, the fewer, she thought, as she searched for her wrap and prepared to leave for home.
She did a quick walk through of the gallery to view her work for the final time. Each of the paintings had been sold tonight, netting her a whopping sum of money that would add to her golden bank account. Thankful that she was able to sell all the paintings, she also regretted the fact that she would never view these paintings again. Creating this particular collection had become almost an obsession over the last year and the result was a smashing success with her fans and buyers alike.
The paintings, stark and black against the white walls of the gallery, stared back at her, quiet and static. The silence of the gallery was broken only by the echo of her footsteps in her fashionable high heels as she walked from painting to painting, giving them one last look. Like all artists, she could point out the places where she felt she hadn’t quite ‘got it’ and where she could have improved or changed a colour or shape. Still, she had to admit as she looked at them, that they were the best work she had done to date.
Before departing the gallery she turned around to look at the long hallway with her work on the walls.
The word echoed through the hallway, reverberating around the room, hovering around her paintings. She was stunned! She dropped her wrap and walked back down the hallway, peering more closely at what she had created.
These abstracts, for that is what they were supposed to be, she viewed with a sudden clarity. Within the swirls and colours, she could see scenes, places, people. Why had she not seen this before? When had she painted these? Why was there a familiarity with the scenes yet no recollection of having created them?
A tiny chill crept through her from head to toe. These were her paintings, but now she was seeing them in a completely different light, and it unnerved her! She could see anger and hatred. In some paintings the colours resembled blood. There were scenes of violence and destruction, and death. In every painting similar images existed within the abstract forms.
Annihilation: his word for her work. She had not seen this before, and no one else had mentioned seeing it. He saw it, though, and felt compelled to let her know.
She was confused and unsettled. This was not the first time she had experienced pictures within her paintings, but then the pictures were benign, seemingly placid, sometimes even sly. Once she was in the zone and painting furiously she would just go with the creative flow. The result was a painting that always wowed the public. People would talk about seeing other images within her work but usually she was at least semi-aware of those images. In this new collection she hadn’t noticed anything unusual… until tonight.
Grabbing her wrap off the floor she decided to head for home and sleep on the whole thing. After all, there was nothing more to be accomplished by staring at the paintings. She needed sleep, and would deal with it in the morning.
She stepped outside the gallery and activated the locking device. Then she entered the tube that would take her to her home, pressed her palm to the encoder to enter her co-ordinates, and was home in a flash.
Within the confines of her affluent flat she quickly shed her outerwear and, after pouring herself a drink, sank gratefully into the warmth of her sofa. She absentmindedly turned the television on and closed her eyes as the warmth of the alcohol began to relax her weary body. Soon she nodded off as the television droned on softly in the background.
She woke with a start! Who had said that? She cautiously looked around the room, as if expecting someone to be there, speaking that word again. No one was there. It had to be just the television, she thought. That and the stress of the day and the strange man’s single word critique of her work. His comment still bothered her but she was now feeling so tired she didn’t have the mental strength to ponder it anymore. She closed her eyes again, telling herself she would ask about the man in the morning, and would find out what he meant by that word.
As she fell into a deep sleep, things outside her little world were already beginning to shudder with the oncoming changes.
© 2008 Tallulah