This story stemmed from another task set at the writers' group I attend, to write a parody. One challenge that regular readers of this blog will know is that I read very little mainstream fiction so it was difficult thinking of a story that I knew well enough that was going to be known to a sufficient number of people in the group. Thus I alighted on 'Girl With A Pearl Earring' by Tracy Chevalier which I read last year.
Gran With A Pearl Hearing Aid
“Into the corner.” Vanbeer commanded.
“But I’ve already hoovered there.” Leer complained.
Leer complied and bundled herself into the enclosed space. She looked back at the painter apprehensively. Vanbeer disappeared behind his canvas but emerged moments later; both his hands grasping an open tin of emulsion: white with a hint of pear. The paint ejaculated from the tin, drenching the helpless elderly cleaner. Paint coated her hair and face; flowed down her shoulders, down her arms; streaked from her overalls and pooled on the floor.
“Stop what?” Leer asked, her voice a little muffled as her lips struggled to free themselves of sticking paint.
“Stop breathing, of course: you’re spoiling the effect.”
Worried what the artist might do if she did not obey, Leer held her breath. She kept her gaze on the radiator, itself enhanced by the pale green that covered her. That was, apart from a stretch of what, the outline of which matched the lower part of her stance and the shape of her vacuum cleaner.
Without warning, Vanbeer lunged forward again; a broad brush in one hand and another pot in the other, this time of an emerald green. He dabbed a lump of paint on to Leer’s caked hair and splashed highlights on to her cheeks and shoulder. Now this pot was abandoned and he returned with the roller that Leer knew all too well. Thrust back and forth in the tray of sky blue it was soon being propelled up and down her body almost entirely obscuring the greens below.
Paint trickled down Leer’s face, warming to body temperature as it did. It dripped steadily from her chin. Then it collected in her nostrils and Leer feared they would block. She wheezed but only when Vanbeer’s back was turned. Yet, it was not enough: a sneeze burst from within spattering mucus across the dry floor in front of her; mucus artfully blended with shades of the sea; shades of the forest.
Vanbeer span on his heel. “Ruined! Ruined!” He bellowed. “How could you do this to me? To my work?” He stormed from the studio.
Does that mean I can breathe now?” Leer asked in a small voice.