All was quiet now, deadly quiet. You had to put your ear close to me to hear the one thing, the only thing that screwed up this silence: the crinkly sound of my hair and nails, continuing to grow, somehow. Even the crows had stopped echoing their calls between one and another. And yet, I was not alone. I could sense another presence.
When at last I mustered the will to blow the gravel off my eyelids and force them open, the first thing I saw was sandals. Diamond-studded sandals, no less.
Never before had I seen such an elegant design in our village—not even at my own wedding some years back, when Job could still afford spoiling me. At the time he had been considered a good catch. Rich beyond belief, and as healthy as an ox, he had not been known for being blameless or righteous until much later. Some wicked fun we had! And to please me, he would pour coins into my purse—what a delightful jingle!—so I might buy the most exotic fabrics for my dresses, and the most expensive footwear, imported by Babylonian merchants traveling through the Kingdom of Edom on their way to Egypt.
How I had been pining lately for his attention, or—failing that—for the luxury of going on a shopping spree! It would have been a pleasant distraction from all my suffering.
If only I could go, one last time, and buy some brand-new designer clothes, or better yet, shoes...
But now, these sandals—right there at my eye level—were sleek, but also quite strange. Their tar-black, impossibly high heels were cutting with a twist into the freshly dug earth; which at once, seems to scare away a host of worms.
Naturally, I tried to squirm away—but could not move a muscle.
And look: inside these two contraptions were the ugliest feet I had ever seen. Toes crooked, nails spiked, with an irregular, cracked outer edge—yet they were painted quite liberally with some blood-red smear.
Sigh. I closed my eyes. Was this a joke, or a bad dream? With such a sloppy manicure, this bitch—whoever she was—must have been even more impatient than I ever was.
I wished that—for a spell—I could take a peek, just long enough to compare our feet. Mine, you see, are so much prettier! And what’s more, they had been cleaned the night before by the village women, washed once with water from the local well, and a second time with tears.
But now, even without casting a look I could tell, by the chill on my skin, that under this shroud my feet were utterly bare. No boots, no shoes, no sandals.
Which made me envy her.
Through the skin of my closed eyelids I could sense a sudden change. Blocking the sun, her shadow came crawling upon me, until suddenly it stopped. Which was when—with no warning, and no respect for the departed, either—she gripped my arm, rolled me aside and to my surprise, hopped in—
My oil painting, Untitled, was created by combining two of my charcoal sketches, in a way that it's hard to resolve if the female figure is dreaming up the sea creature or else, if he is dreaming her up...