The private exhibition

Chapter 1 - part 1

My stomach screams for food, but I can't move -- not yet, not until he tells me to. My hand rests on my lower belly. My thick sausage-like fingers sit there, sinking ever so slightly into my plush, yielding flesh. He stops a moment to look at them. Stroking his sharp, black beard as, through the lenses of his concave glasses, he studies the way the golden light of the morning sun plays upon the smooth skin of my swollen digits. Then he returns to his work, the veins and muscles of his forearm shifting as, subtly, with great care, he moves his brush across a tiny patch of his vast canvas.

I haven't eaten for nearly an hour, every cell in my body yearns for sugar and fat, for a rich feast to fill the yawning chasm within me. But I know it'll be a while yet before I can, finally, dig my teeth into my first post-breakfast snack for the day. And so, as I lie here, reclined in bed, contained within vast, weighty cushions of my own flesh, I do my best to distract myself from my gnawing hunger, my unrelenting urge to eat.

The wall before me is covered in sketches and paintings. His past depictions of me, displayed in chronological order. Furthest to the left, by the narrow door leading to the steep basement steps, hang a great number of his pieces from when the two of us had just met. As I look at them, those old creations still seem so very beautiful, so evocative and arresting. As I study them, I find I can hardly remember the girl that they depict.

Was I ever that thin? Was my body ever as sleek and shapely as his sketches would suggest? Were my eyes ever so startling as those in his portraits? Was my gaze ever so confident, so playful and alluring? Could I really strike and hold all those graceful poses with such ease?

Even back then -- when I was thin and pretty and only too aware of it -- I found it hard believe that I could really be as beautiful as the girl in his drawings. From the moment we first met, from the moment I first learned how his eyes saw me, I couldn't stop thinking about him, about the beautiful goddess I'd seen on the pages of his sketchbook. As silly as it may seem, I couldn't help but to feel as though he'd seen right through me, as though his gaze had pierced through all my put-ons and pretensions to capture something buried deep beneath. Some hidden potential, perhaps, that even I, myself, couldn't see.

Little did I know then how right I was.

Back then, he seemed like such a kind man. He was so charming and sweet, a relaxed romantic with a sharp sense of humour. When he asked me out, only a few weeks after we'd first met, I was only too happy to say yes. Before long, I had fallen hopelessly in love with him.

All these old drawings, these hauntingly beautiful depictions of my former self, are ordered around one, huge centrepiece. A vast painting that shows me, reclined in bed, my naked body on display in all its past glory. As I look at it, I can't help but to marvel at its beauty, at the beauty of the woman depicted there.

Her hair is dark and luscious, it flows like silk down her shoulders. Her eyes, framed by long lashes, are a sparkling green; her body is lean and limber, a collection of solid, subtle curves. As I look at her, at her tapered waist and her flat stomach, at her firm, round breasts and her tight, callipygous butt, at her sleek, slender thighs, and the negative space that divides them, I can't help but to feel just a little wistful. Did I really use look like that?

As the girl in the painting stares back at me with her coy, come hither smile, I can't help but to wonder what she would think if she could see me now. If she could see what fate has in store for her. What the man she loves has made of her. These days, her smile, which once struck me as confident and knowing, seems so hopelessly innocent and naïve.
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