• Casey Dunn

Portrait Writing: In the Conservatory

Short story based on the painting In the Conservatory by Édouard Manet

Hi Margaret,

Well, I don’t think Paul anticipated things going quite the way that they did. It’s not his fault. How could he have known that I didn’t love him? To be quite clear, because I want in no way for anyone to think that I am faultless, I told him I loved him. Did I? No. No. No. Why did I tell him that then? I did like the idea of loving him… I think… In any case or theory, I liked the idea of being around him for the rest of my life. It was the execution that was daunting. You should have seen him. He wasn’t happy about how everything happened. He had that crook to his neck that he gets when he’s sad. And he lurked over me from the start. It wasn’t flattering. I think he knew what was about to happen. I could barely look at him. I told myself, "Clare, look at the poor man!" But I never did. Well, once I did, but it was a glance and I’m not really sure that he saw the glance. Fuck. It was not grate Margaret, I regret a lot. I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I know that he left you for me and now I’m leaving him for well… no one I suppose. I don’t know if that makes this better or worse, but I couldn’t let things stand as they were. No way, no how, that wouldn’t serve. I miss you as a friend. I truly do. And now that this has happened I feel like we may never be friends again. And that is unfortunate. What with Joseph’s passing, this whole thing seems so unsteady. A rock that’s begging to be lost to the ocean currents at any moment. I think that’s why I knew I didn’t love Paul. If that makes any sense at all. Does it? I just didn’t want to be that rock with him. I’m fine to die, really I am. I just want someone who satisfies all my curiosities to go down with me. You know? Maybe you don’t. I hope you at least read the first part of all of this. I do confess that reading back over this it does ramble and switch paths in ways I hadn’t meant. But I’m trying for full transparency now. No more miscommunication or inconsistencies. I would very much like to hold your hand sometime. Maybe walk through the park with you? Tell you all about everything. Would you like that? Write me back if you would. If you wouldn’t… Write me back anyways. If I want transparency from me I better want it from everyone else too… Who knew simply speaking is the most troubling part of all and all. I guess poets and whonot knew it… and you, I believe you know quite a lot of things. In somedays soon, though at your leisure, please write me much and more and more than that. I want to read it all. Especially about the park. Let me know on that soon, I think it’s going to be a cold winter. Best to get the walks in before then.



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