Today I have to steam the floor in the gallery. I have to erase all traces of blood-paint from its surface. A cleansing fog, a hot, slow erasure of pigment. Steam, scrub, wipe, scrub, steam, scrub. And rest. My back, wrists and fingers ache. I breathe in the steamy mist and my face grows as red as my hands, stained with his blood-paint.
Silver elbow patches, a cloud of dust.
Fogged up windows, hot sweaty men. Draw a line. And another one. The windows drip.
Another steam clean. A fountain and a steaming fog. The man wears Black Wellington boots and a high vis. jacket and trousers. He works quickly while I watch, cleaning the fountain in the square as it spurts up plumes of water. Clouds of steam hover knee-high, reaching right up to the top of his boots. He’s gone the next time I look toward the fountain.
I go to meet him at the studio. It’s so cold our breath is visible between us. Later, as I walk back along the canal, the cold deepens and a dark fog rolls around me.
Pea souper. Smog and smoke. Choking … choke.
There is a bridge in the sea fog. At least, I think a bridge is there, there on the other side of the world. It’s painted red but I can’t see it. They say its golden but I’m sure it’s red. The fog won’t budge and the sun struggles to burn it off. It’s chilly down by the water on the pier. I wish I’d brought a thicker jumper. I take photographs of the ships moored up in the harbour. They are closer to us, away from the thick cloud of fog. I still can’t see the bridge. But he tells me it’s there, deep within the fog.
In the basement there’s a noise like a terrible howling wind. Loud and eerie. Where is it coming from? Has the weather moved inside? Is the rain getting in?
The shower is fogged up. The air is thick with heat and moisture. I wipe down the shower and step out on to the mat. Hot breath in cold air, shivering skin.
The next day we go down to the harbour again. There is the bridge in the distance, vast and painted blood-red. We hire bikes, fasten our helmets and cycle toward it, this time in the blazing sunshine.
Part of Gathering Storm / IBT15 Writing Residency