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by Tim Love

I told our lecturer that the Turner Prize was all PR, that art should come from within. She smiled, saying that when Picasso was wondering when to exhibit a blank canvas, he’d studied the public just as carefully as Michelangelo ever did. Nothing changes.

Jane nodded, so rather than hoping we were compatible, I changed course, ditching watercolours to join her doing video. Walking to her flat past the flint chapel we heard a choir, saw the stained glass flickering, caught snowflakes on our tongues, counted them to see who’d won. It would have seemed so silly only weeks before.

That night my question wasn’t meant to be a riddle. She gave the obvious answer, laughing when I told her what I wished she’d said. I didn’t understand. Looking out at the thaw, I wanted to run away, to splash in the puddles like a told-off child. But later I only knelt, examining the last flakes that fell and spun on the water’s surface. Life’s a tragedy in close-up, a comedy in long-shot, said Chaplin. And Wilde.

Right then the choir emerged from their rehearsal, chatting and la-la-la-ing as they walked round me. Nobody bothered asking if I was alright. I kept my head down until the snow melted into its past, and I could walk home through empty streets.

It seems like only yesterday, except that they’ve put grills over the stained glass. It’s raining, her window’s empty. I’m in no rush. Nowadays I’m never without my camera.

Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet Moving Parts (HappenStance, 2010) and a story collection By All Means (Nine Arches Press, 2012). He lives in Cambridge, UK. His prose has appeared in Stand, Journal of Microliterature, Short Fiction, New Walk, etc. He blogs at http://litrefs.blogspot.co.uk/.