Winter of Abandon

Claude Monet. Camille on her Deathbed, 1879. 90x68cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris

When I came back with the tray, he was whispering to himself. "Blue-gray under her eyes. Losing the blue. Light magenta fading from her cheeks. Yellowing."

My stomach knotted. What if she heard? They say hearing is the last to go. His eyes were fixed on her.

"Antwerp blue. Graying."

It was the moment. I took her hand, he the other, kissing it, holding it to his cheek. Perhaps she could still recognize the soft, spongy feel of his beard. We waited until we were sure. I touched her throat and the pulse was still. He left the room abruptly and came back with easel and paints and a canvas.

"Claude, no!"

"The colors. Everything's changing. Passing in an instant." He set the easel at the foot of her bed.

"The children, Claude. How could you--?"

"Move, please."

"Aren't you anything more than an eye?"

I did not love him then.

"This is the point I've reached. It's all I understand."