At first, I only knew Mr. Monet by reputation. Never had our paths crossed, never had our eyes met. At some point, I even began to suspect the universe playing tricks on me. Every single one of my friends had gotten to at least have a brief conversation with him, a random hello, or even a semester of art class.
Everyone but me. All I had was his reputation. That reputation was a wild one. Stories traveled through the hallways, stories about Mr.
Monet. They said he had dated college girls, not from our particular college, but from nearby ones. Or, better: they said he fucked college girls. There were girls who claimed they had been taken to his mansion on the far side of town, where they had been devoured, pleased, ravished and caressed. Their stories never added up. It was always too beautiful, too romantic, or too unbelievable to be true. I had already long given up, when I finally got to meet Mr. Monet. As a drawer-to-be, I had been assigned to create the artwork of a charity event students were about to hold.
If only I had expected to see him stepping into the classroom when I was working on the first rough sketches. I would have worn something more classy than ripped jeans, a lazy tank top and filthy Uggs. I had not expected such a thing, though. I almost fainted when he started talking. He walked up to me, his hand held out. "I do not think we have met, madam," he said, a pondering look on his face.
I stuttered my name.
Trying not to gaze at his large biceps, I buried my face in my sketches. It must have been crimson red. I wondered if all the girls in my class had felt this way when they first met him - but realized none of them might ever have been alone in a room with him. In the days that followed, our meetings became slightly more casual.
I would spend the afternoons in his classroom, turning sketches into drawings, and drawings into art. Every now and then, he passed by to see my progress. Never did I get used to his compliments, nor did I forget a single one of the tips he gave me. One particular afternoon, when he sat at his desk grading other students' assignments, I could not help but stare.
He was an incredibly handsome man in his late thirties, with dark, half-long hair, a tall, toned body, and a worn face. Fantasies broke into my head, in which I was lying on his desk, naked, as he kissed me all over, his hands on my hips, his unbuckled belt running across my thighs.
I wanted this imaginary Mr. Monet to grab me and make me subject to his darkest urges, but I kept snapping out of my fantasy world before such a thing could happen. As the charity event approached and my artwork was almost done, I finally found the audacity to ask him about his own art. We talked about his drawings and paintings for almost an hour - or he talked, and I listened. One particular sentence left my mouth without my brain realizing its consequences, yet the words had been said and the damage had been done.
"I'd love to see some of your work," I had said. Moments later, I had been invited to Mr. Monet's studio. After both his and mine classes of the next day - a Friday, one day before the event - were over, and after I had helped him clean up his classroom, he walked me to his car. A few students were still hanging around the parking lot, but paid little attention to the girl getting into the teacher's car. It was a fifteen minute drive, and I doubt I had said more than ten sentences altogether.
Mr. Monet must have realized how nervous I actually was, as he kept trying to engage me into smalltalk, asking about what other hobbies I had and how I liked college. We arrived at an old street in a shady part of town. I followed him to a large wooden door, which he opened and closed behind me, and up a set of stairs. The first thing I noticed when he opened another door, was the distinctive smell of wet paint, which was all around.
In every corner, against every wall, and even lying on the floor, there were paintings. Some of them looked finished, others were barely half-way done, a few were nothing more than a canvas with some lines on them. I looked closely at some of them. His skills were extra-ordinary, even a student like me could see that. I had been daydreaming in front of one of his largest paintings, but got woken up by the sound of scratching wood.
I turned around and saw Mr. Monet, a paintbrush in his mouth, putting a canvas on an easel. The expression on my face must have been an odd one, because he laughed when he saw me looking at him. "Would you like me to draw you?" I was stunned. Did Mr. Monet really just ask me to be a model for his next painting?
That could not be true. I was entirely used to being on the other side of the canvas, not on this one. On the other hand: he was the professional here, the only true artist, the teacher, and I was merely his student, his admirer.
If someone like him wanted me to model, who was I to decline that offer? Nervously, I shuffled a few feet in his direction.
"I would love that," I replied at last. "Make yourself as comfortable as possible," Mr. Monet said. His warm voice echoed between the walls. "Take off your coat if you're warm, grab a blanket if you're cold. Sit, stand, lay down, it's all your decision. I want you to feel good." Cold, I most certainly was not. I cast aside my jacket and stood in the middle of the studio, where he could see me perfectly.
My mind was tripping over my own thoughts. This, this entire situation I found myself in, went so smoothly, so polished that an automated string of events took over. I looked at him. For the first time, we made eye contact for more than a fraction of a second. The eye contact remained when I crossed my arms in front of me, grabbed hold of both sides of my shirt, and pulled it over my head. We stood still for what seemed like an eternity. Mr. Monet wanted to say something, but I acted more quickly.
I reached behind my back and unhooked my bra, then slowly slipped the straps off of my shoulders. It fell silently on the ground between my feet.
Mr. Monet said my name, perhaps in order to tell me to stop, but I ignored him. Whilst staring directly at him, I kicked out my shoes and unbuttoned my jeans.
Monet said once again, but this time with significantly less power, and not nearly as much certainty as before. I pulled down both my jeans and underwear at the same time, stepped out of them and kicked them aside. I was now completely naked, standing in a studio with two beautiful eyes gazing at me.
Strangely, I felt awfully comfortable in this situation, for it was what I had been wanting ever since I had heard the first hallway stories about the man in front of me.
"You can draw me now," I whispered. And that he did. He started to create the contours of my body. He worked fast, but precise.
For twenty minutes I stood there, following the movement of his arm with my eyes. After those twenty minutes, Mr. Monet threw away his paintbrush.
He looked at me, twitching his head as a way of summoning me. I walked towards him, around the easel, and looked at his work. It was the most impressive painting. It seemed to consist of only one smooth line, as if he had never taken the brush off of the canvas.
It was unmistakingly me, the girl in the painting. It was my body, my face, my hair. Mr. Monet had painted me. As I was staring at the canvas, I felt him touching me.
He threw his arms around me and pressed his body against mine. He held my hips and lowered his face into my neck. I could feel his breath on my skin, I could even hear it. I tried to keep my thoughts with the painting, but that proved sheer impossible.
"I want you to know," he whispered, "I had no such intentions." I already knew that. I did not either, and yet it had happened. I had fallen for the thought of being naked around him, a thought I had been having for so long, I did not even remember when it had appeared first.
"Noëlle." he said softly. I turned around. I kissed him. I threw my arms around his neck and pressed my lips against his. This was not, however, a kiss of lust.
It was a kiss of thankfulness. I could have gone further. It would have been so simple to reach under his shirt to take it off. That would mean he would have me, right here, at this very moment. I had no doubt in my mind it would have been amazing. I did not. No matter how much I wanted it, to feel his naked body against mine, to feel him inside me, his hands over my body, his tongue in my mouth, until the two of us would simultaneously explode in a zenith of intense pleasure, I could not do such a thing.
This was the moment of perfection, this stance, with his hands on my hips and my feet on top of his. A moment that would only be ruined by engaging in love-making, how wonderful it might have been.
The next time I spoke, I was sitting in his car, right outside my front door. The painting was lying on the backseat.
He demanded me to have it.
I had refused at first, but the thought of having a memory of this evening had made me reconsider. I thanked him and stepped out of the car, picked up the painting and closed the door.
I waved goodbye by merely holding up my hand, and I doubt he even did such a thing. We barely saw each other during the charity event. I wandered around with my classmates, having the most random conversations. At one point, when we crossed the art booth where Mr. Monet was teaching refugees the basics of charcoal drawing, one of the girls expressed the common urge to be taken to his studio, to be made his for the night.
I listened in silence.
If only it was that easy.