“The lips seem wrong,” I heard Jerome mutter to himself. I sighed internally because I knew he was going to start all over again. We had a show in less than two weeks and he was obsessing over the lips on his third painting. He needed to have no less than ten paintings and he was stuck on one pair of lips.
I turned back to my painting and put my headphones back on. I couldn’t dwell on what he was doing when I had my own work to finish. I was hoping my last painting would be my best – I needed it to be my best. If it wasn’t, I knew I wouldn’t sell anything. This piece was to be the focal point as well as the highest seller. At least, I was hoping it would. I needed this show to go well if I was ever going to get anywhere with my art.
I startled when I heard a loud bang behind me. I was scared to turn around because I had a very good idea on what I was going to find. Jerome had probably thrown his painting against the wall. Again. If this show went well enough for me, I knew I would have to get my own studio. I couldn’t continue to work in a small studio with Jerome. He was too unpredictable, too unstable. Sometimes I was able to channel his moods and was able to get more done, but lately I felt as if I just needed some peace and quiet where I could truly work on what I wanted to work on.
As the night continued to roll on, I finally got into a rhythm. A rhythm that included blocking out whatever Jerome was doing with the lips on his painting. As the clock ticked toward midnight, I realized I was having more trouble shrugging my shoulders and decided to call it a night. I slowly took my headphones off and cleaned my brushes and happily realized how quiet the studio was. Jerome must have gotten irritated and left without saying goodbye.
It wasn’t until I turned around to face Jerome’s station that I realized he had never left. Never left and he wasn’t coming back. The bang I heard was not Jerome throwing his painting against the wall. Jerome was lying in a crumpled pile in a corner and I knew I needed to leave before anyone came by to check. I wasn’t supposed to be in the studio in the first place. Jerome’s previous studio mate had gotten tired of his moods and he was desperate for someone to help with the rent. As much as I had tried, he would never tell me where Rebecca had gone or what had happened.
But now I knew my suspicions were confirmed. The body in the corner told me exactly what I needed to know. He had gotten rid of her and her spirit had come back to let him know she was still here. I knew by the cross on his forehead. But I also knew the cross on his forehead was an exact replica of the cross I wore around my neck, down to the last intricate detail. I knew Rebecca would find me next. I never should have made her mad, but I couldn’t help it. I had loved the idea of a studio more than I loved my best friend.