Portraits in Blonde by Angela Readman

The man didn’t know he was artist until he cleaned out his wife’s wardrobe and found a strand on a coat. One long hair clung to a fur collar, blonde as sunlight forking its way into the den of a sleeping bear. He lay the strand on paper and continued his clearance. There were strands everywhere, all to be laid on sheets of paper. One by one. He sat on the bed and contemplated pictures one wrong breath could make fly away.

The photos in the drawer, he set on a pillow. His wife stared at the camera in knitted bathing suits and flour sack dresses, blowing kisses with lolly red lips before he was there to catch the breeze. One strand at a time, he painted her portrait in blonde, tweezers in his fingers contoured a strand into her profile, the side of her face looking slightly away. He made her eyes by curling one strand around and around, a spiral staircase of light with no beginning or end. Contouring a strand to the shape of her neck was to sculpt a waterfall.

Last of all, he made a stab at her lips, crinkling strands into lines on the skin. Nothing should be cut, he was certain. He worked on her lips like a fingerprint of words that that were never spoken, but stowed away in a sigh.  All night he lifted strands. They shapes they made looked like oceans, mountains, in his hands.

Angela Readman's stories have won The National Flash Fiction Day Competition, and The Costa Short Story Award. Her debut short story collection, Don't Try This at Home was published by And Other Stories in May 2015. It was longlisted for the Frank O'Connor Award, and shortlisted for The Sabouteur Awards

Angela Readman’s stories have won The National Flash Fiction Day Competition, and The Costa Short Story Award. Her debut short story collection, Don’t Try This at Home was published by And Other Stories in May 2015. It was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award, and shortlisted for The Sabouteur Awards

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