A sold set of eyes (short story)

I woke on a summer’s morning that felt equal parts joyful and sticky. The Sun shone through the window of my blue chamber. I got up and did my usual process, I put on my hat and my blazer, which I thought fit my bushy beard nicely. Truthfully, I was nervous about giving a good impression. I felt the whole world hinged on me today. I was readying myself for the royal exhibition, where I would showcase my year’s worth of work.

I have been living in Marseille for three years where I have worked on my passion for the visual arts. Before that, I had been poor with little means or recognition, until I managed to convince a rich landowner to invest in my work to eventually show the royal family. He obliged and provided me with this small house near the main road.

I have had my ups and downs creatively. I’ve done some of my best work, and some of my most audacious. Where before I had only envisioned grassy plains, wide rivers and steep hills, I had birthed a range of motions and structures bound to my whims and my brush. A portrait of a rabbit with a twinkle like a dying star in its eye while dreading the fire. A reddened face of embarrasment looking above at his lover’s face. A shattered slope moments before a landslide, on top of a few lonely monks. But all of that is nothing compared to my magnum opus. The “mural of loveliness”, a full body portrait of a nymph lying across a 5-meter wide frame. The girl’s look is breathless with a hint of worry, and her blank face and eyes tell me that this day is mine, as the sunshine warmed my face and my mood.

I have seen this face for days and weeks, I have grown accustomed to it, it makes me feel proud, alive, powerful. Her eyes come from me and now they beckon me back where they come from. Selling her would be the greatest pleasure, every glass of wine I would savor with the wealth will taste of her sweet eyes reflecting all of nature’s bounty, laying atop vines among other fertile things.


What a huge success that was, I’ve never felt more recognized. I am succesful! I am accepted! My works gathered close attention from the royal family, and the present noblemen. They were all purchased for compensation fit for royalty, and the Queen even found my nymph to be captivating enough to personally request it. I have achieved my goal, I’ve taken the harvest from the seed I planted long ago. From little I have made the greatest bounty.

After reflection on my success, undressing for bed I fell into a peaceful slumber.

I woke suddenly in the night with a great desire. I looked to the left wall where I kept my most precious pieces, searching for the eyes of my nymph to be reassured. Where I was searching for her I only found an empty blank wall.

What had I done? Did sell myself? Will I ever be the same? – I asked myself.


Months after my great success, I woke on a summer’s day that made my hair itch and my mouth hiss from the bright sunshine. I looked at my wall to see dismembered rabbits stuck to a canvas, with entrails all around.

I see them all deconstructed and lost, in their poor little eyes, and I rejoice at their suffering.

I angrily got up and prepared myself for a day much like any other. Sitting outside, wine, cheese and new fairweather friends are my protection from monotony. Though in essence that is the only thing they offer – monotony. I live in a drunken stupor outside my chambers, inside them, it becomes a focused anguish against my own heart.

That is how my rabbit pieces came about last night. I look at myself after getting up with blood drops on the mirrored glass. The face is bleak and sullen with drowsiness, but it is the face of success. Destroying those rabbits was cruel, but not to them, they had clean deaths. The foulest cruelty was to myself, which is my biggest success…


I woke with quiet determination. I dressed promptly in plain formal attire. I brought my canvas of rabbits down to the rue royale, the same one I brought my nymph one year ago. On that day I had hoped for good fortune. On this day, I deeply desired others to see how my good fortune turned out.

My rabbits stood almost comically brutal among grassy reliefs and divine portraits. All the while I thought how my so generous landowner would react to my hubris. I expected and desired the worst. Many walked by and did not spit on my work, but to my surprise, they channeled it to praise my work. “Quite bold”, a well-dressed man told me.

The Queen personally requested my rabbits. She had just begun reading Greek Tragedies by Euripides and Sophocles, as well as a playwright called William Shakespeare, which had “touched her heart with deep anguish”. I wondered if I had shown my bowels on my frame if they would have been so kindly received as well.

I initally refused to turn the piece over but the Queen took it anyway. She had thought my rabbits beautiful, where there was only anguish and death. Is that what those rabbits really died for? To give the Queen banal pleasure? To taunt me from the grave?


I laid my head to rest on the bed and the blank wall appeared red with rage, which I splattered all over it. The blood is from my heart, then on my hands, and now it is on my wall.






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