Grayson once painted me as a woman. Short red hair, hips like butter swirls. And ever since Grayson painted me a woman I’ve felt my chest tighten in this shirt and my waist swell like dry dirt in the earth. Grayson loved me like no man ever would. “These skies are like old photographs,” he’d say, and he’d lift his shotgun and fire.
I loved Grayson. He needed me like an artist needed white space—I were his colours, from the moment he looked at me and said, “I’d love you as a woman,” and tied a pretty scarf around my neck, kissed my nose and painted me red, gave me breasts, hips and smudged out my beard. But Grayson was a maniac. He painted hedges with blood-soaked petals, threw pony hooves from window ledges. Said he wished for war and peace. I said there was no such thing. He put a finger to my lips and cupped my chest. Told me I’d have perfect breasts.
One day I asked Grayson to paint me as a man, and I held him as he cried. I chose a field near old Dyson’s Hill, and he brought his paints, and I brought my old clothes, his clothes, my daddy’s clothes. Grayson cried when he saw me, buttoned up in a suit, bolo tie loose. He painted me in front of a sepia field; painted the sky like sweetcorn, shotgun ready. I’d never seen him look so sad, painting me a man. When he finished he took the gun outta my hand, fired six shots straight into my painted chest.
Carlotta is a writer and editor living near London. She co-founded and edits Synaesthesia Magazine. She can be found (or will be found) on WhiskeyPaper, Visual Verse, Fifty Word Stories and The Bishop Otter Gallery Anthology. She likes writing stories from photographs or paintings. "I'd Love You as a Woman" was written from a photograph taken by Grayson Perry.