Photograph, No.27

Maybe one day I will post the photograph from which I painted this. Maybe I will not.
    I pressed the shutter—having run to the bedroom for the camera—because she looked so good there and I thought it was not only memorable in itself, but deserving of photographic record, a place in the charter of human beauty. Maybe I took the photograph because she looked so perfect—so Klimtesque—and I never had any intention of showing a single soul that moment she reclined on the sofa. We were wet from the rain and wet between the legs, drying round our mouths and drying the coral-coloured tissue of our convulsions. The windows were closed, and it was winter warm indoors. I took this photograph and then we kissed and I went to the bathroom to urinate, sticky with spit and cum. Afterwards we cooked dinner and she chose the music and I chopped whatever she asked me to chop or stirred whatever she asked me to stir; between it all, I raised my tiny Japanese invention over & over and topped up our glasses.
    It had been a perfect day in the terrible wind of Finnish cold. It was Valentine’s weekend—or it had been Valentine’s day before and, on the fifteenth, a Saturday, we extended it as we liked. It was the best Valentine’s I could ever remember having. We had made so much of the day; when it presented so little, we strode into the harsh air and took it for all we could. We had spent the afternoon in north-east Helsinki, where we searched for ingredients and ate good falafel—crunchy and hot, cold pickled cabbage, purple white green—in a bare restaurant where a homeless man dragged himself around without legs, asking for change, groups of men spoke in groups and children chased each other about the tables. We returned home and put our hands on each other. We made ourselves warm. We made the apartment warm. Then I took the photograph: no.27. We drank beer we had bought in Estonia, sparkling wine and red wine, played board games, listened to music. That photograph was the twenty-seventh on the roll.
    When I first started using oil paints, I missed acrylic. Now I am using acrylic, I miss oil paints. When it is summer, I miss winter. When it is winter, I miss summer.
    It was winter then and I did not miss summer. We ate and talked and laughed and smoked in front of her building, flicking fireflies into the bush. No more vodka, not from those tiny crystal glasses she kept shuddering with clinks in the drawer, we will wake to regret it. I felt the tiny calluses on her feet as we drank two a.m. green tea from a porcelain pot. Leafy specks spun in the mugs and faintly they stroked one’s lips as the bitterness of booze was washed away. I could smell her skincare routine when she got into bed. I could see the sheen of her skincare routine in the light that she would turn off after we had used our last bit of energy left. The radiators throbbed. We slept under thin sheets, entwined, as close as possible, like mating snakes in a nature documentary.
    Maybe I will not show anyone that photograph because not everything happens to be shared. Some things just happen by accident. Such things are without meaning, they have no effect on the universe nor its workings. They happen to help you enjoy life, to trick happiness into you, to make your eyelashes quiver over the wonderment of it all. Then they never happen again.
    I suppose, then, that this painting is no different to observing an eclipse through welding goggles or off the reflection of a lake. You must pardon all the distortion I have inflicted upon the scene.
    The photograph is perfecter than my faculties will allow me to comprehend. Perfecter is a word. My niece’s laughter when she is being tickled is perfecter than any other sound I heard today. My father’s photographs of my mother when they were young are perfecter than I will ever tell him they are, perfecter than he will ever know.
    Perfecter is a word.
    That photograph of her reclining on the sofa is perfecter than anything else that could ever have been shone over the twenty-seventh frame of a thirty-five millimetre roll. That moment in my life as brief as the exposure of the shutter, capturing a pattern of light, a click picked through the silence of the room and faded to echoes.