The Nude In The Bathroom – By Mary J. Breen

November 16, 2008

I’m not sure I remember where their house is. I know we go along 12th, and then-

I know where we turn. I’ll tell you.

Good. So Jane, before we get there, I heard you on the phone telling Margaret that you hate that painting in our bathroom. Is this true? All this time and you never said anything? So, tell me: why do you hate it?

I told you I wasn’t keen on it when we had the bathroom renovated. I told you the colours were wrong, and the size too, but you were so quick to argue. That’s when I realized-

Realized what?

Don’t pretend you don’t understand, Donald. And do we have to do this right now? Oh, it’s the next corner, so get in the turning lane.

Right. But please, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why don’t you like it? I think it’s lovely. All that colour and movement. So softly stated. So much suggested. Ahh, I’ll bet you think it’s indecent! You can be such a prude sometimes.

Oh for chrissake, Donald. Softly stated. Colour and movement. Stop being so obtuse! How can you pretend to be so clever one minute and so dim the next? Along here another few blocks.

OK. But-but dim about what?

I can read, you know. Right there in the corner of the picture. Plain as the nose on your face.

Yeah, I know what it says: “Anon.” I wrote it there.

I knew it was your writing, Donald, lovingly applied.

What? Look, Jane. I wrote that because I didn’t know who painted it. I told you at the time that it was left behind at the County Arts Fair with no name on it. Finally, when no one claimed it, I kept it and got it framed. I just wrote “Anon” on it as a little joke. . . . Oh, lord. Now I see. Here we go again. You think it says “Anne!”

Of course I do. She was a model in your class, re-mem-ber? You hung it there to keep her alive in your memory. Alive and undressed. Well I don’t appreciate your little reminder. Ah, this is their block. Down at the end. Margaret says we can park at the school. Lord, I hope we’re not too late.

Jane, you’ve got it all wrong. It says, “Anon.” Just “Anon.” And, besides, I keep telling you Anne meant nothing to me. Why do you keep bringing it up, even after all this time? Why can’t you just leave it?

Right. I forgot. It was so insignificant. And don’t touch me. Not now.

OK, but it was insignificant! I’ve told you that over and over and over. But, what I don’t understand is why you didn’t tell me you hated it, rather than torturing yourself like this.

Well, I suppose I-I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a reminder that I shouldn’t completely trust you.

But Jane; it really, truly isn’t her.

Yes, but it might have been.

 

About the Author

Mary J. Breen

Mary J. Breen teaches creative nonfiction and seniors’ memoir writing. Her essays have been broadcast on CBC Radio, and has published fiction and nonfiction in national newspapers, essay collections, travel magazines, health journals, and literary magazines including Boston Literary Magazine, Canadian Woman Studies, Mystery Authors, Other Voices, and Quality Women’s Fiction. Mary lives and works in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

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