The life model

November 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

She is naked, of course.

The high windows allow strained grey light into the studio where she stands, one foot raised on a chair, in front of seven other people. She has held this position now for twenty eight minutes, and her body is beginning to protest.

Whilst the students struggle over their renditions in charcoal and pencil, she has taken her mind, lifted it from her body and set it at one remove, where she can think about groceries and her elderly father and the tiny lump she found the other day whilst examining her breasts.

None of these students would see it – there’s nothing to see, it can only be found by touch – but the knowledge of its existence means that what, last week, was an unconsidered fleshy space at the side of her left breast, is now the focus of most of her thoughts.

Right now she is wondering when it is that you start to feel old. Is it when the outward signs start to accumulate, the lines on  the face and the slumping flesh? Is it when other people stop questioning your age and instead avoid referring to it; they stop noticing you, that near-inevitable slide into invisibility; or is it to do with none of those things, but rather something less tangible emanating from within, rather than outwith: a sense of that see-saw beginning to tip?

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