All the tints of paint have numbers, and stupid names. 123: Wattle Illusion, 79: Morpheas Azure, 337: Disgruntled Giraffe. You pick out number 293: Burnt Umber. I wonder aloud if Burnt Umber is, in fact, just the colour brown, and the hardware guy looks at me as if I have just invited him to make sweet love to me on the weed matting. You do nothing to diffuse the situation.
I’ve always imagined painting a house to be like it is in the ads: me in fresh white overalls, joyously floating a groundsheet over a hardwood floor in a shaft of sunlight, you with a scarf around your head, doing cheeky and suggestive things with a number 4 brush, and maybe a paint-splattered radio playing songs of significance.
Not only do we paint the bricks around my door, but the entire side of the house as well, with a paint that sits like sand on the knobbly concrete. It takes way too long and I’m sweaty and tired and I haven’t been to the shop for two weeks and I’m starting to think that you’re having a negative effect on me.
The next morning, after you’ve blown smoke in my face, after I’ve carried you to the bathroom and back again, you ask me to make a number for the front of our house: a number 3, curly, with flowers and shiny blue bits. I tell you that I don’t have time—I’m too far behind with work as it is. You stare for some time at the carpet. Then, with a sad look on your face, you leave the house.
It’s my first time alone since I met you.