Saturday, 15 June 2019

'Emulsion' by Liz Wride

They won’t be able to live like that.

These are the words of the Interior Designer -  a new one – not the one who turned our Upper East Side penthouse into a space of light – not the one who knew us, who couldn’t offer a reason for the inexplicable dimming of the lights after it all happened.

I swallow down the new one’s words like arabica from the cafetière. I’d suggested that the walls be blanketed in a wash of white, the exact shade of clouds in Renaissance paintings. He speaks instead of oak tones, tartans, forest greens, off-greys, stags, mustard yellows and a general theme of ‘heritage’.

He tells me the sticky fingers of children; their dirty hands; their finger-paint finger prints will get on better with deep greys and accent purples. His words evoke the feeling of heavy woven tartan bristling through my hands, like waves of anguish.

He’s so against my proposed décor because of the near-life-sized canvas photograph of my three children, that looks down over my living space. They are there, in full-colour: sandy-haired and tanned skin, with a wide-eyed wonder that adults try too often to filter onto their faces. It was an image taken the one time they modelled for an American clothing brand: they are all in single-digit ages; little huggable things in their sweatshirts and cuffed dark-wash denims. There’s a sort of clean lighting to the whole picture, and with their bare feet on the wooden floor – they look protected – like for all the world, they are in a space where no harm could ever come to them.

I tell the new one again – all I want is emulsion. White walls. Undisturbed, like Heaven. 

He inhales the caffeinated steam wafting from his cup. There is a fine line between an minimalism that suggests wealth and one that denotes poverty.

He begins again with his narrative. Your grandchildren will make a mess if you ask them to come in to a white space.

Your grandchildren.

My hair is heritage-grey, now.
This new one does not know us.
He doesn’t know that penthouses in New York are the closest you can be to clean air and heaven. He does not know that the crispest Forest Green of all is on the European continent in a country where the trees grow thick and sky-high. He does not know how the mustard-yellow of buses can concertina.

They won’t be able to live like that
– what the doctors told me – as they lay, the three of them, unconscious in hospital beds.

There is a minimalism that denotes sterility.

There is no heritage, now. I can pass everything on to precisely no-one. But the Interior Designer doesn’t know this.

He takes the swatches of tartan fabric out again. Think of the grandchildren.

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