The Artist

The Cliff at Seaside [excerpt from a story in progress]

3:00 a.m.

Nick lifted the ceramic mug his friend Ciara had made him and admired it, while his coffee brewed. It was beautifully glazed; half blue, half gray. It was large and easily held two cups. Perfect for his morning portion. Ciara had her own studio in a restored Victorian house her father had bought, and remodeled, for her. He was one of three physicians in the hamlet called Seaside and Ciara was his only child. She lived upstairs and her shop was on the main floor. Her kiln was in the back.

As the coffee percolated, Nick pulled down a plate, and placed a slice of wheat bread in the toaster. Coffee was his only vice and he was picky about it. It had to be rich, fresh, and European. None of that American coffee in the can stuff. French was his favorite. Italian was good. Both were dark, but Italian wasn’t as dark as French. French was best to go with pastries. This morning he’d have Italian, espresso, or café latte, with sugar and cream. He’d forgotten to go to Claude’s. Claude made the most delectable confectionaries. Nick was addicted to Claude’s apple strudels and mocha filled eclairs. In bold letters, he wrote on a Post-it: ‘Claude’s,’ and stuck it to the refrigerator.

He took his plate to the four-seat barista on the side of the window, in the living room.

The toast popped up simultaneously with a loud ‘ding’ and Nick jumped. His appliances were all new and everything was unfamiliar. He felt like a foreigner in a strange unchartered land. He added a thin slice of feta on his toast and a few mint leaves and finished it off with a drizzle of dark cold-pressed olive oil. He took his plate to the four-seat barista on the side of the window, in the living room. In the daytime, he could see the Pacific and the shoreline. Now, he couldn’t see anything, but darkness. As he ate, he studied the sixty-four-inch round marble-top piece he’d ordered from Italy. It was called, ‘Portoro’. It had been a huge risk, but it had arrived, in perfect condition and it was breathtaking. Jet black with bold white and yellow-gold abstract shapes, it caused an inner reckoning to his creative sensibilities. God was the real artist.

His hunger now satisfied and his neurons pleasantly firing, he stood in front of the thirteen-foot wide window. He was on top of his world with the cliff twenty feet beyond. To the left he saw highway 1. Its lights twinkling, red and gold fireflies. He could hear the methodic swooshing and moaning of the ocean even though it was a hundred fifty feet below. He opened one of the vertical windows and breathed in the moist salty air. Life didn’t get any better than this. Autumn was rolling into Winter. He couldn’t wait to watch the thunderstorms play light shows over the water.

The early morning hours, were the golden hours when he could start a painting and have it finished by sunset. But this morning he wanted to take a long walk, along the beach.

Only twenty-nine, Nick Giordano, had reached a level of achievement few artists his age had, could, or would. The main secret was total dedication. For five years he’d painted every day, all day. Except for the eight-month-long renovation, nothing had come between him and his art. A struggling artist friend had called him ‘obsessed.’ They didn’t get it and had started malicious gossip calling Nick egotistical, anti-social, and reclusive. Nick let it go but he’d become extra cautious of who he let into his circle. His friends were people who respected his time and space and basically waited for him to contact them.

Ironically, his success had made him even more busy and driven. He worked every day, all day, going out only for necessary things. It was totally untrue that artists had to be flakey hippy types who had no discipline. Artists had to be free and unencumbered, but they had to be orderly or the process would be affected…

Laurie Hill
Laurie Hill
Laurie Hill holds a Liberal Arts degree from Pennsylvania State University and a Certificate for Writing Social Commentary, (2006). Having traveled to many countries she is a passionate promoter for world peace for all people and all religious thought, as long as its base is non-violent, and respects individual freedom. An aspiring novelist with three completed novels she is currently working to publish her third. She has resided in Jeddah for twenty-eight years.

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