There is a short, middle-aged man who has been studying my paintings, going around the room and standing silently in front of each in contemplation as if they were the Stations of the Cross. He is holding a glass of wine that glows blood ruby red in the whiteness of the space and the blank zinc oxide canvases that ring the walls. He turns and comes closer. A chill sheath of familiarity slips over me.

"You have painted the pain and loss of your life into each work, yes?" he says.

I don't answer, just stare back into black eyes that have eaten my soul. Later that night he takes my hand and we go home where he swallows me whole.

The End

or, The Beginning