Clara is in her bedroom smoking cigarettes. Considering the number of people in her life at the moment directing where she must go and who she must speak with, there is a unique freedom within each inhalation.

Her mother loathes her habits.

When she arrived home from the hypnotist, Clara stepped into a steaming shower and exfoliated her skin with hand-made sandalwood soap from the local market. Within the patterns of hot water chasing the curves of her body, she saw his name spelt across her skin.

No one knows about the tattoo.

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for strings purrs from small speakers resting on a desk beside a bay window overlooking the aquamarine sea. When a private investor unexpectedly purchased more paintings than she ever imagined to sell, things started changing.

Clara knows that money will never buy happiness. She’s never said this to anyone because she understands it is a cliche statement, and the idea of ordinary tangles her stomach into sailor knots.

She exhales a trail of smoke and watches it dissipate. She raises a hand to her heart and circles bare skin with the cool tips of her fingers.

What is left behind?

The telephone rings. She ignores it. A gust of beach breeze rattles the shutters. She assumes it is afternoon. There are no clocks in Clara’s petite bungalow.

Before anyone else is granted opportunity of contact, she steps out.

photo: Don’t tell mum by Jessica Tremp