- زمان مطالعه 13 دقیقه
- سطح ساده
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
It’s just a painting
Marina arrived at the National Gallery in London and went straight to the room where her favourite painting was. When Tracy had given her the message about the favourite room Marina knew immediately where she meant. The painting was one that Tom had brought her to see on one of their early dates. A favourite painting of his, it quickly became a favourite of theirs.
Marina stood in front of the painting now and looked up at it. The painting was of a woman standing in a room. It could be a kitchen, it could be a living room. A white room with not much furniture but with a beautiful light coming in through the window above and behind the woman. The light falls on the back of the woman’s head. She is in her mid-twenties, blonde, with her hair tied up behind her head in a white scarf. She is clearly going to have a baby soon. She is holding a letter in one hand and the second hand rests on her stomach. She is reading the letter and there is a quiet smile on her face as she reads. It is a wonderfully calm painting because of the light, the stillness of the woman, and her smile.
Tom and Marina had sat in front of this painting for twenty minutes when they first came to see it.
‘What do you think?’ he had asked.
‘It’s beautiful,’ she had replied.
In those days they could sit together for twenty minutes or even longer without saying anything to each other and yet still feel very close to each other.
On their first dates Tom had talked so much that there was never any quiet time between them. He had wanted her to see that he was a nice man, that he was funny and intelligent, so he talked and talked, about himself. But she had wanted him to ask her questions, to show that he was interested in her and not only in himself. It did not happen. Tom gave her his full life story, or the good parts anyway. And he even told her about his earlier girlfriends, saying what had gone wrong, what he had done wrong. But there were no questions, and there were no quiet moments.
Later, as their love developed, they could be quiet together. Looking at each other, looking at a painting, looking at the sea, looking at children playing in the park. They could be quiet and yet be with each other, feel very close to each other.
We sometimes use words to build a wall around ourselves, and sometimes saying nothing can be a way of letting people come really close to us. So in those days when Tom and Marina said nothing to each other, their silence spoke of their love for each other.
Now there was not so much silence between them. She spoke and he made noises to show he was listening. They were usually little noises and she thought that sometimes he was thinking of something else. They were not noises that invited her to say more. There was little of that old quietness.
There was quietness in the painting too, just the woman reading her letter.
‘Who do you think the letter’s from?’ Tom asked.
‘Her man,’ Marina said.
Tom and Marina had once played a game with Tom’s nephew, Rob, in front of this painting. Rob was ten years old and loved to be with them because they were adults who liked to play games and who did not talk to him as if he were a child. In the game they each had to say who they thought the letter was from and what it said.
‘Her son’s school report.’
‘It’s from her doctor, she has to come to the hospital for a check-up.’
The winner was the person who had the most ideas. Tom won, of course, although Marina and Rob did not like some of his ideas.
‘A chance to win World Cup tickets.’
‘A letter from her old lover.’
A bill from her garage.’
A “Dear John” letter.’
Rob did not understand this. Tom explained:
‘It was during the war. It was the kind of letter that some soldiers got when they had been away from home for a long time. A letter from their girlfriends saying, “Dear John, I have found someone else.” They called them “Dear John” letters.’
‘But she’s a woman,’ Rob said.
‘OK, maybe she’s just written a “Dear John” letter and she’s reading it again to check for spelling mistakes. They didn’t have computers with spell checks then, you know.’
‘No, no,’ Marina said, and laughed. ‘He’s away, you’re right, that part is true. But it’s like this. It’s from her husband and he’s away looking for a present to give her when the baby is born. He wants to find something that no man has ever given a woman before. He’s travelled around Europe and is now in Africa. He’s writing to tell her he has found something almost as beautiful as she is, almost as beautiful as the light that came into their bedroom the first morning they lay in bed together as a married couple. And he says that he will be back home soon. And that even though he is far away, when she reads this letter it will be as if he is there with her. And that soon they will lie together again in that beautiful light.’
Tom sat and looked at Marina, his mouth and eyes wide open. His eyes were the size of dinner plates and he said, ‘Wow!’
Rob too, although he made a joke about shopping for presents being easier now with the Internet, was looking at Marina with wide eyes and probably thinking something like ‘I want to marry you’.
‘Don’t even think about it!’ Tom said to his nephew, reading the look on his face.
Yes, this was an important painting for Tom and Marina. They came back to it now and again, just to check on their feelings for each other. They had not been to see the painting for over a year.
‘You’re right,’ a voice said behind her back. She knew it was the Ironing Man. ‘It is from her husband, and it is a letter of love. But, come with me. I want to show you another painting.’
The Ironing Man took her by the hand and they walked through the gallery, from room to room, slowly moving from one century of paintings to another. He knew where he was going.
Finally they stopped in front of a large painting. It was not an old painting but it told an old story. There were three people in the painting. In the middle was a man dressed in expensive clothes, looking out from the painting, looking important, holding his head high, smiling with a look that says, ‘I have everything now’.
In front of him there is another person. It’s difficult to tell if it is a man or woman. This person is dressed in white and is not looking at the man. He is looking behind the rich man. There are big houses, expensive cars, beautiful women everywhere. Everything is expensive, everything says this man is rich, this man is important. This man has the world in his hands. But the person in white looks sad.
‘What is it?’ Marina asked.
‘What do you think?’
Marina looked again at the painting. She now saw a third person in the painting, standing behind the smiling rich man, almost completely in the dark. He is also smiling, but it is not a friendly smile. It is a smile that says, ‘What you have is nothing. I will come for you and you can do nothing to stop me. Your money will not help you. No-one will be able to help you when I come for you. I will come for you as I will come for all men.’
‘This third person is death?’ Marina asked.
The Ironing Man nodded.
‘And the person in white…’ Marina thought a little and then turned and smiled at the Ironing Man.
‘I think the person in white is like you,’ she said. ‘I think he has given the man in the painting three wishes, and I think the man has asked for money and… and all these cars and houses and things.’ She looked back at the painting.
‘But now death has come for the man and all of these things mean nothing.’
The Ironing Man smiled at Marina.
‘And you have already given me two wishes,’ Marina said. ‘The Ironing Man and the massage. And I have one more wish?’
The Ironing Man nodded again.
And you want me to think carefully about it?’ she added.
He nodded again and she thought some more.
And if I asked you to bring Tom back to me,’ Marina said. ‘To make it like it used to be between us, to make it like it was when we used to sit here and look at the painting of the lady and the letter. Could you do that?’
And then what would happen?’ asked the Ironing Man. ‘What has happened between you? If you and Tom were closer again, maybe the same thing would just happen again. What do you want, Marina? What do you really want?’
‘I want Tom and me to work hard at making our love grow and continue to grow,’ Marina said. ‘I know we can do it. I think we have just lost our way a bit. I love him and I know he loves me, but we have forgotten how to work at it. Can you give me that?’
‘You have to do that yourself,’ the Ironing Man said. ‘But maybe I could give you both some time together, a little holiday perhaps. And maybe I can help Tom remember just how much you mean to him, how much he really loves you.’
‘Could you do that?’ Marina asked.
‘I think I already have…’ The Ironing Man thought for a moment and then continued. ‘I think I have already started something. I think something may already be happening.’
He smiled at Marina and she smiled back.
‘I am sure you can do it, Mr Ironing Man,’ she said.
And then she thought of something and her smile disappeared. She looked at him with a question.
‘But, that will be four wishes, won’t it?’ she asked. ‘You will help Tom to remember and give us time to ourselves? Do I get four wishes?’
‘You know, Marina,’ said the Ironing Man, ‘everything is going up these days. The price of everything is going up, even the number of wishes you get is going up!’
Marina laughed again and looked at him.
‘Can I buy you a drink?’ she asked.
He shook his head slowly.
‘You people… I mean you… you don’t drink, you can’t…’ Marina said slowly.
‘No, it’s not that,’ the Ironing Man said. ‘I just thought dinner was probably a better idea. I’ll pay, but you choose the restaurant. Italian, I think. That’s my wish!’
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