AVAEL 005: Varnish
// EASTON HOUSE //
For weeks since the recovery of the men of EASTON HOUSE, DOCTOR LENARD TRELAINE has come to sit for his painting. He has made a habit of arriving soon after sunset as THE DOCTOR had requested his portrait be done by candlelight.
Each Friday, AVAELLE EASTON takes her evening meal early and sets up the living room for his arrival. Candles tall and small are strewn about the area to acheive the minimum required lighting for her work. She’s taken to enjoying a tiny cup of whisky sipped throughout the evening as the two sit in conversation and pleasantries.
Nothing, not even the dusting of snow, has stopped THE DOCTOR from his weekly appointment with his painter.
The EASTON family is seated at a small table in the kitchen when the familiar sound rings from the front door.
AVAELLE rushes up from the table to answer the door, candle in hand.
THE DOCTOR is dressed in a dark coat and tie, as he’d been wearing customarily.
DOCTOR! IT’S NICE TO SEE YOU ON THIS BLUSTERY EVENING.
PLEASE, DO COME IN.
THE DOCTOR brushes his shoes on a rug underneath the door.
LOVELY TO SEE YOU, TOO.
I THINK I’M A BIT EARLY THIS EVENING.
He removes a pocketwatch from his coat pocket and eyes the time.
IT’S NO WORRY.
WE’RE JUST FINISHING UP SUPPER.
THE DOCTOR had taken to helping himself to the stable and walking up unencumbered to the residence. He was kind to the family, and though he accepted some of their hospitalities, he was also comfortable refusing that which he preferred to do himself.
I HOPE IT’S BEEN A GOOD REPAST.
MAURICE IS A WONDERFUL COOK.
MY FATHER HAS TAKEN TO HELPING AS WELL.
MR.EASTON raises his voice from the kitchen.
[yelling] DON’T YOU TELL THE MAN THAT!
I AM SURE HE WOULDN’T LIKE WORD TO GET AROUND BUT I THINK HE MAY ENJOY IT.
CARE TO JOIN ME IN THE SITTING ROOM?
Despite AVAELLE’s protestations that she’d needed her father’s assistance to produce a painting, she’d found that her father seemed preoccupied with other projects whenever THE DOCTOR came around.
I’LL BE QUITE DISAPPOINTED WHEN YOU AREN’T VISITING EVERY WEEK FOR OUR SITTING.
I DO SO LOOK FORWARD TO IT.
I HAVE BEEN ENJOYING MYSELF AS WELL.
THE DOCTOR sits in his usual overstuffed armchair.
AVAELLE is seated on a wooden stool. It helped encourage her to sit upward and maintain a proper posture.
UNFORTUNATELY, I HAVE SOME SAD NEWS.
AVAELLE removes a painter’s knife from a cup and dabs at a few dollops she’d placed just before supper.
Her painting is nearly complete; a stationary model of THE DOCTOR looks out with a placid expression.
I WON’T BE ABLE TO SIT FOR ANY MORE SESSIONS.
AVAELLE moves paint around on her palette and hides behind her canvas.
I SUPPOSE THAT’S NOT SO BAD; WE’VE NEARLY FINISHED AND I’M JUST MAKING SOME FINISHING TOUCHES.
I DON’T STRICTLY REQUIRE YOUR PRESENCE TO FINISH IT UP BUT…
I’VE BEEN CALLED BACK TO NEW YORK CITY.
At his serious tone, she scoots out from behind the easel.
YOU’VE BEEN CALLED BACK TO NEW YORK CITY?
BUT YOU WANTED TO GO WEST…
I DID. BUT I WILL GO WHERE I AM NEEDED.
A serious silence fills the room.
YOU MUST BE SO DISAPPOINTED.
I AM, BUT I CANNOT LET MY PERSONAL DESIRES CLOUD MY JUDGEMENT.
THE CITIES WILL ALWAYS BE PLACES OF SICKNESS.
THE DOCTOR leans forward in his chair and takes her hand in his. A red flush rises to her cheeks.
I WANT YOU TO KEEP THE PORTRAIT.
BUT… YOU SAID YOU WANTED TO SEND IT TO –
I KNOW WHAT I SAID, BUT.
I WON’T HAVE ROOM TO KEEP IT WHERE I AM GOING.
SHOULD I THINK OF THE FUTURE OR OF THE PAST?
THE PAINT TAKES A LONG TIME TO CURE, DOES IT NOT?
I WANT YOU TO HAVE SOMETHING REAL TO REMEMBER ME BY.
I’LL NEVER FORGET.
TRELAINE smiles at her, and then releases her hand.
I HOPE YOU ARE RIGHT.
I WANT YOU TO HAVE ONE MORE THING.
BUT WON’T YOU NEED HIM?
THEY’RE SENDING A CARRIAGE FOR ME NEXT WEEK.
THE LESS I TAKE, THE LESS I HAVE TO LOSE.
YOUR FAMILY HAS BEEN A BEACON OF LIGHT OVER MY TIME HERE.
BUT WE CAN’T TAKE YOUR HORSE…
YOU HAVE MORE NEED OF HIM THAN I.
HE’S GROWN CLOSE TO CINNAMON.
I DARE NOT RIP THEM APART.
AVAELLE pauses, tears threatening to well up in her eyes.
I WAS SO LOOKING FORWARD TO RIDING IN THE SPRING…
AS WAS I.
BUT YOU’LL WRITE?
Of course, there was always the post. It had slipped her mind.
… OF COURSE I’LL WRITE.
The evening has a quiet, somber tone. In her sorrow, AVAELLE does very little painting, and instead tries to steal as many glances as she can of THE DOCTOR’s intense grey eyes.
Soon, there’s nothing more to be said. AVAELLE offers him a lantern and they bid adieu in much they same way they did every week. She insists he stay the night and leave in the morning but he won’t have it. He must be in town early the next day.
With so much left unsaid, they part ways.
Tearfully, AVAELLE goes to find her father in his bedroom.
WHY DIDN’T YOU ASK HIM TO MARRY YOU?
ISN’T THAT YOUR JOB, FATHER?
I RAISED A DAUGHTER CAPABLE OF MANAGING HER OWN AFFAIRS.
I WASN’T SURE IF THAT’S WHAT YOU WANTED.
YOU NEVER TOLD ME WHAT YOU WANTED.
AVAELLE sniffles and wipes her nose with her sleeve.
I’M NOT SURE IF IT’S WHAT I WANTED, EITHER.
BUT I JUST CAN’T HELP FEELING AS IF I’VE LET HIM GET AWAY.
WE STILL HAVE THAT DOUR PORTRAIT YOU’VE CAPTURED.
IT’S NOT FUNNY, FATHER.
BUT YOU’VE DONE A GOOD JOB WITH IT.
in which the houseguest keeps strange hours
in which Avaelle is healed of her wounds