Watching and Praying

Monday, 24 May

There was a sombre air in Elmfield House on Friday afternoon. It was raining fiercely outside and the combination of grey and overcast skies and the sound of heavy rain rattling against the window made the workroom feel remarkably dark and gloomy and contributed greatly to our apathetic mood. Poor lighting always makes Leonard irritable and his frustration at being prevented from working showed in his furrowed brow and exasperated mutterings. I had changed into and out of my sitting clothes three times and I finally resigned myself to lounging in the armchair and wrapping a tartan travel-rug tightly around my shoulders in order to keep warm while we waited patiently for a break in the clouds (Leonard requires me to wear a thin, summer top so that he can see the line and shape of the muscles and bones in my arms and back). Leonard plugged in a small electric fire to compensate for my light clothing and the infusion of warm air that crept into the room made us both feel very lethargic. Even Hooter fell fast asleep at my feet. 

Since neither one of us was in a particularly sociable mood and our motivation was at a seriously low ebb, we decided to work on some basic exploratory sketches rather than persevere in the vain hope that the weather might improve, so I moved to the comfy chair by the window and watched the rain beat against the glass while Leonard sat on a lower chair to my left with his sketchpad in hand, studying every tiny movement that I made (he must know every inch of my face by now). These informal exploratory drawings are for a set of armatures that Leonard is working on and, from what I can gather, he has been working on the bust peg for these armatures late at night. He would like to produce one or two terracotta portraits of me and ideally a bronze with an instrument; a violin perhaps, but his ideal musical prop would be a saxophone (fortunately I still have the alto saxophone that I learned to play at high school and I can’t wait to surprise Leonard with this revelation, he will be absolutely thrilled!). 

Leonard put a tape of TaizĂ© chants into the cassette player and we worked quietly for a while, just listening to the relaxing music. He is very fond of his collection of TaizĂ© chants and one of his favourites that he is inclined to rewind and play over and over again is a particularly soothing chant called ‘Bleibet hier und wachet mit mir’. Leonard lit a number of tealight lanterns in order to contend with the increasingly aphotic darkness that was quickly descending upon the room and the golden glow of the flickering flames combined with the gentle music generated a reverential and meditative atmosphere in the workroom. It felt like a secret place, a place of pilgrimage.

Unfortunately after half-an-hour or so the peaceful ambience in the workroom was shattered by wild barking from the neighbour’s dogs and shortly after came three loud knocks on the front door. Leonard threw his sketchpad onto the floor and stood out of his chair, grumbling to himself and complaining that Luke always knocks even though Leonard leaves the front door on the latch when he is due to arrive. He shuffled off into the hallway muttering “he knows that he’s perfectly welcome to let himself in…I shouldn’t have to repeat myself...”. I then heard Leonard greet his visitor and Luke’s deep voice echo through the hallway, so I decided to take the opportunity to leave before they entered the room and Leonard embroiled us both in conversation. 

Although I am finding it easier to converse with Luke now, recent events have made me a little nervous in his company and I feel that I owe the reader another confession. A few weeks ago I decided to test out another magic spell from The Omega Course. It was a love charm designed to attract the affections of the opposite sex and, although I am ashamed to admit it, the curious and love-struck romantic that will be forever imprisoned inside me could not resist testing whether the charm would have any effect. Luke was the test subject for this spell – quelle surprise! - and during our last few sessions I have noticed that he has been watching me intently, waiting until I catch his eye and holding my gaze a little longer than usual, to which I look away shyly and smile to myself in acknowledgement. He is testing my reactions to his blatant display and the attention is flattering and by no means unrequited, but there is something about Luke’s character that continues to unnerve me and I am always grateful for Leonard’s presence and mediation at our meetings.

I grabbed my coat and bag from the hook on the back of the workroom door and stepped out into the hallway to find Luke standing in a puddle of rainwater and looking like a drowned man rescued from a watery grave; his dark hair was plastered to his face, his tight jeans were soaked through and his leather jacket was emblazoned with thousands of beads of water that glistened like tiny diamonds. He was deep in conversation with Leonard and the two men looked extremely anxious so I felt terribly discourteous when I interrupted them and mumbled that I must be on my way home as it was getting dark outside. Luke apologised for disturbing us and he tried to convince me to stay with an uncharacteristic desperation in his voice, suggesting that I should wait until the heavy rain outside had abated, so, taking Luke’s drenched state and my very thin coat into account, I took his advice and made myself comfortable once again in the workroom and watched the two men work together for a while.