Are you an artist? Or, more to the point, the artist?’ I ask, offering another, friendlier smile. She raises her eyebrows at the question.
‘Jesus, no. That’s a bit hardcore for me,’ she laughs before adding that I had passed by her work on the way in.
‘Really?’ I say, suddenly embarrassed that I hadn’t paid attention to any other work yet, and looking aimlessly behind me. She laughs as I scan back over my tracks.
‘Relax, it’s just the poster. I’m a graphic designer.’
I nod and glance around, trying to find one of said posters, if only to keep the conversation flowing. She points one out to me, on a pillar a few yards from us. It’s striking, featuring a colourful image of one of the paintings that I had spotted further into the room, with the exhibition title printed in vibrant yellow, sideways, up the right-hand side of the page.
‘It definitely grabs your attention,’ I say, catching sight of a little flicker in her eye, ‘Art never called you?’
She scoffs at that, shaking her head.
‘No. Well, no, it did. I liked art and I was pretty good at it. But I also like eating and, for the most part, art and eating don’t go together. Graphic design, on the other hand, gives me the chance to be artistic...’
‘To a point,’ I suggest and she shrugs.
‘To enough of a point,’ she says, ‘And I can afford to eat when I want.’
I laugh, finally introducing myself and shaking her hand when she offers it. Her skin is clammy, something I attribute to the fact that she’s had her fist clenched in her pocket for the past ten minutes.
Her name is Alex, short for Alexandra she points out, adding that her parents were fond of all things Greek and had been told that they were having a boy in the early stages of her mother’s pregnancy.
‘At least they only had to change one letter to get the name they wanted,’ I chuckle and she frowns, before explaining that she was supposed to be called Damon. I raise my eyebrows, watching her face for any further reaction before I finally risk a response.
‘I think fate was on your side...’
‘It definitely was!’ she laughs; a raucous, booming explosion that seems to emanate from down around her knees. It feels like a joyous expulsion of tension. I smile as I listen to her. I notice her perfect, gleaming, white teeth. I feel like I’m staring for too long, as if I’m intruding on something that has become a personal moment for her, so I look back to the kaleidoscopic wall of colour in front of me.
She quietens beside me and stands for a moment, both of us feeling something drifting in the silence between us.Read More