< eL Diluvio
Published September 10 2023
New York City

The Eyes

"The eyes, can't you see they're lifeless?" said Juan Andres.

"It's in your head. I see nothing wrong with her eyes. That's how I've always seen them." said Hendrik.

Juan Andres cocked his head to the side and sighed. He looked pale. The portrait mounted on an easel in his study measured six feet by four. The woman in the painting faced the viewer directly—olive skin, almond eyes, with long brown hair and a colorful ruffled dress with a high neckline. She was depicted from the waist up, sitting in front of a landscape of rollings hills in the daytime.

"I'll have to bring her back in. Those aren't the eyes I see her with."

"Nonsense. For what? She's engaged to be married. Whatever romance you shared in your youth is far gone. These are the eyes she sees you with."

"I promised her I would gift her this portrait before she married. Gift her this? She would think I'm insulting her."

"By trying to fix this image of her over and over, you're only driving further away from the essence. Confront that you no longer know her."

"Or that I never did."

"Which of us could even draw our own eyes with precision? Most of us avoid the mirror—only the mad like you take a long hard look."

"Still, what would I do? Leave it as it is?"

"Put the brush down and never speak to her again."

"Ten years. I started this first sketch when were 16."

"You're young and only growing in recognition. There are more plenty more beautiful women looking for you to capture them. New eyes out there that can make you come alive."

Hendrik covered the portrait as Juan Andres reached for the stack of newly delivered letters.