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Dumb Day


It is, by any account imaginable, the most ridiculous outfit that I own. He made me bring it all out here in the cart. I wanted to bring clothes to romp around on the trails around the cathedral. To storm off into the wet fields and find the unfound parts of the glades around town. It's beautiful around here, and we used to do that kind of thing all the time.

Nope. Couldn't afford to use the space for clothes that I wanted to bring. Had to bring this giant robe, the ridiculous fur shawl, and the suede gloves. So I could stand here in this marsh watching Monty paint me -- but not really even me. What you don't see is the sweat and the welts from the flies biting my ridiculously exposed neck and chest, which -- I swear to god -- must have been made extra-delicious to every species of insect in Ile-de-France because of this powder that he made me wear.

Priscilla, you might say, why on earth did you ask for all of this in the first place then? Was it his riches? Some promise of an easy life?

Well how did you know? Yes, at first, it was just all so grand. Grand, grand, grand. Monty just whisked me off my feet with furs and pearls and I am just the kind of person to be swayed by that kind of thing.

Please.

Are you kidding?

Do you think there was ever a moment in my life where I wanted to wear four different dead animals in the same outfit? No, at first he was just a normal human being. We went out for dinner in places around the corner from his terrible little apartment. His friends were artists. They made interesting plays and had breath that reeked of the cheapest wine. He was a waiter and painted these street scenes that we used to then burn in the apartment stove to keep warm. I worked in one of the arcades, selling some of my own portraits and occasionally worked behind a bar.

We had a normal life. On the weekends, we took the train out to Arles or Giverny, and sat in the grass and watched the river go by. Folks sitting everywhere painting these fuzzy little pictures of jugglers and bathers. The most pleasant, easiest of lives.

Then Monty. Well. He falls in with one of his father's friends, who tells him that he has a job for him in a factory. I told him -- forget it. Why work all of these ridiculous hours? Who needs it? The smoke is terrible and we'd met some of the horrible men our age who work in those places. Always money this, future that. Progress and trips to London and New York of all places.

Forget it.

But then. Monty being Monty, and possessed of all of this utterly generic and boring ambition, takes the job. We start swimming in money. Boring, boring money. Money that we can't even use because now he's working all of the time. We don't even go to Arles anymore.

And then one Wednesday evening, he comes home to the -- much larger -- apartment, reeking of whiskey. He's got three guys with him carrying a trunk up the winding stairway. He opens it and: voila. The outfit that you see me wearing now.

"Darling, for you!" he says. And I swear, the first thought I had was to wonder if it would land on all four legs if I threw it out of the window. Or rather, all sixteen or whatever legs, given how many dead animals were in that box.