"C'mon Pel!" Tia ran ahead like she always did once the tent was set up. "Last one in the water is..." and I lost track of her voice as she sprinted down to the lake.
She'd be in the water long before I got down there, I knew. I grabbed my kit, just in case, although I usually didn't paint after swimming, or before it. I just decided I ought to on a whim.
Sure enough, as soon as I got down to the large flat rock we used for swimming, a beautiful ebony face popped up out of the water. "Hey there, Pel, glad you could join me!" Tia's boisterous laugh warmed my heart.
I put my kit down by the tree line, where Tia's clothes were. "I brought my easel and paints down just in case."
"Just in case of whaaat?" Tia asked, her grin radiant.
"Just in case I wanted to paint," I replied dryly. "Why else would I have brought them down?"
"The big cloth case and all your heavy stuff? The stuff you usually leave up by the camp? The stuff you hate hauling around?" Tia sounded smug. "Why would you bring them down?"
I was confused. "I just... wanted to...?"
She stood up in the shallows, and I stared.
She was naked. No swimsuit at all, her dark body gleaming with water and sunlight. Not wearing anything but...
I stared. She wore the silver pendant on her neck, the ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail. It hung down between her small, perky breasts, contrasting impossibly with her black skin. My eyes were fixed on it as she walked closer.
"Why did you bring your painting supplies down?"
"You told me to." The words slip out of my mouth before I even think of them.
She slipped the ouroboros from around her neck and holds it before my eyes. "And now what happens?"
"I'm going to paint." It was simply true. It was a truth I hadn't spoken since the winter.
"What are you going to paint?"
"You, by the lakeside." It seemed obvious, almost like it wasn't worth answering.
The ouroboros was pressed into my hand, and I woke up, staring at my beautiful lover. "Where do you want me?" she purrs.
I look at the evening light, and point. "Stand there. By the edge of the lake." All business. Everything in my mind was focused on getting the right picture, quickly. I go to my kit, unpack my easel and set out my canvas.
"How do you want me to pose?" she asked, standing near the water.
I pause, distracted by my bare feet on the warm rock when I had expected sandals. "Tia... am I naked?" I look down and see my skin and not my sundress. I must have left my clothes at the campsite, and only just noticed.
I laugh with her. "You're ridiculous, you know?" I slip the ouroboros pendant over my head. "And I bet you planned this."
Her eyes fixed on the snake symbol the moment it fell between my breasts. It's always a rush when my excitable girlfriend just locks in like that. "Yeah," she replied, staring.
"So you knew I was going to use the snake to pose you," I said, my hands already guiding her into a sitting position.
"Uh huh," she mumbled as I brought her knees up towards her chest. I placed her hands behind her, turned her head to look out across the lake.
"You're going to be posed there, Tia. No moving. And to make that happen, you need to be... Blank and mindless." There's no other way she'd have the patience to sit still and model.
"Blank and mindless," she repeats, making me wet... wetter. She was right there, just sitting, and I could just reach out and...
And then I heard her voice in my head. No touching until the art is done.
And I'm suddenly at my canvas, painting. It won't be finished tonight, I don't need her to sit there the whole time I'm working, I just want to capture her in that moment, in the light of the late-afternoon sun, wet body gleaming. I set to work immediately, catching the grey of the rock and the chocolate brown of her skin, the fine contours of her body, the colours of the waves.
It took something like a half hour to get enough of her and her immediate surroundings. I wasn't really sure how long; once I get into to the groove, I tend to lose track of things. I called out to her.
"Tia," I ordered. "Stand up."
She did, still blank and mindless.
"Wake up, love." I snapped my fingers.
She jumped to life like someone hit the play button on a paused video. "Can I see?" she asked, and then before she could move, her eyes fell on the pendant still around my neck. "Oh, yeah..."
Something in the back of my head moved to the front of it, suddenly. "Go make supper, Tia. I'll keep painting."
She nodded. Without thinking, I took off the ouroboros and handed it to her, and she walked back up to the campsite.
I painted like a woman possessed, and I suppose I was. I had been struggling for months to get something, anything made, and there in the encroaching sunset, I found my muse again.
And then I made her go cook me dinner.
I laughed as I painted a beautiful deep blue sky, and white glints on turquoise waves, and long shadows of pine trees, and in about two hours from when Tia emerged from the lake and my eyes locked on that hypnotic pendant, I had a good draft.
I put my easel back from the lake to hopefully let the paint dry, and headed back up to the camp, feeling energized. Tia turned when she heard me coming; she'd put on a t-shirt, but it only covered her from the midriff up, so her gorgeous legs, hips, and butt were bare to my eyes.
I was naked, my pale skin spattered in paint. She giggled, seeing me. "Noodles are almost cooked, and I made some steamed vegetables kinda?"
"I'm sure it'll be delicious. Lunch seems a long time ago," I said. "Also you look cute as fuck."
"You look like you just lost a fight with your palette," she joked, and I laughed. "Also cute as fuck. But we'll go for another swim tonight, get you cleaned up."
"In the dark? I dunno..."
She took off her shirt, and my eyes locked onto the ouroboros around her neck.
"We'll go for a swim tonight."
How could I refuse?