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The Studio

When Diego unlocked the door to his art studio, he sighed first, as he always did when he unlocked this door, and left his loneliness out on the back steps, to be picked up and resumed when the light had left and he had to stop working.

There was no electricity in the studio, but great big windows on all sides to the sky. He might have worked outdoors today, but outdoors there was too much freedom, and he needed some enclosure to work, or he’d sit with a blank canvas in front of him for hours, watching the sway of heavy, seed-laden grass, thinking, I’ll never make anything so perfect.

He needed to be indoors, inside the imperfect walls made by human hands. He could watch the sky, and the solid stillness of the oak leaves etched against it, but tempered through streaked glass it was manageable.

So he sloughed off his loneliness, and his awe, and left them on the back steps to be resumed like a hat and shoes when he finished for the day. He always worked barefoot, and he kept the studio carpeted so it would stay warm.

Today, he thought as he unlocked the door, today I will make the painting that will make her love me. They will finally profile me in the New York Times Magazine, and she will see the article, and she will call me. Only a few months to wait, now, after today.

But if he entered with these thoughts, he would accomplish nothing, so he dropped this longing and ambition, along with his loneliness and awe, on the steps and entered.

Stepping barefoot into the warm carpeted room he felt something warmer and softer than the carpet under his foot. Something wet under his foot. Diego was not a man to scream, or even register shock in his face, but he did freeze, and he did hold his breath before backing up and looking down.

On the floor was a tiny, bloody, still-warm heart, as of some small creature. It’s only a rabbit’s heart, Diego thought. The cat must have killed a rabbit and brought its heart to me.

But Diego could still feel the meaty squish of the little bundle of muscle between his toes, and he saw also that there was a black streak across the heart. Surely the rabbit had already been dead when the cat found it.

Watching himself from a distance, Diego thought, it’s a good thing I’m not a man to scream.


Chloë Gladstone writes catalogue copy for a living, which is not exactly what she had in mind when she was six and decided to be a writer when she grew up, but still it’s pretty fun.

Read more stories by Chloë Gladstone


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