The studio is sweaty this time of year, around noon when the sun is at its peak in the sky. The dusty rays rush through the windows, bleaching the wood floors and warming up the pallor of her skin. Robb would rather draw her in the dark, fix his lighting, but curtains have never fit properly across the skylights and the price for a good studio space has leaped ridiculously in the last month alone. The sun flicks her wicked fingers down and settles in for a nice long stay.
He is sweating in the sunlight, auburn hair burning like a fire, curls slipping down into his eyes every time he glances up. He brushes them away irritably, with charcoal-stained fingers that black his face, and sun roars in disappointment, and blazes down to brighten all. He sneezes into the crook of his arm; he tastes darkness like bitter ash upon his tongue, and his moist fingers wear a curved dent in his stick of charcoal.
He smears her across the paper, insinuating darks where there are none, pressing black where there is only downy white, and she stretches languidly on the table across the room, eyes shut with fluttering lashes against the sunlight’s tearing fingernails. She breathes, and oxygen buoys her flesh.
When she sits to stretch, he glances away. He has no right to see her naked, but then she sighs and yawns and the sun rushes to her mouth, eager desperation in the bits of dust that shimmer in the air. She snaps shut, lies back, the creases and gaps between her legs and arms and neck are filled, sunlight settling like a blanket.
The charcoal calms his aching hand, stained fingers glide through his hair and he coughs up the humidity like a sickness. Her eyes are closed, her lips quirked, and he renders her amusement just before it slips away. His fingers are dark; he’s smudging up the paper now, ruffling the corners and raking fingerprints through her sloping curves.
He wants to blot her out of summer— not the drawing but her —and hide her from the sun with his fingers going black. He wants to spread the charcoal up the slim column of her neck, pushing darks and pushing deep and stretching black across her skin until it blends into her hair, a bower to keep her from the sun.
“We’re done,” he says, because he reads it off the clock above her head, because it is her job to lie for him, just as it is the sun’s job to hide his heat, to taunt him in the way that it so effortlessly caresses her. She raises her thin limbs from the sheet, thinner still where it separates her from the table, and sun relinquishes her with a flapping sigh into the confines of her robe. Her jeans are lying on the floor, balled up beside her bag along with her t-shirt, but she saunters over to him, a drowsy kind of gloomy shadow filling up her eyes.
“Nice,” she says, when she sees it, standing nearly two heads shorter than he, feet pressing sweaty silhouettes into the hardwood.
“Thanks,” he says, though he knows she’d say that even if it weren’t.
She looks at him, quiet and obviously bemused. “You’ve got something—” she says, and reaches up to wipe a smudge from his jaw. Her fingers are cool, somehow, on what is obviously sweat soaked skin, and when her fingers come away, their delicate tips are stained with black.
“Thanks,” he breathes again, and tastes sweaty salty bitter black upon his lips, sweeter than a kiss to keep away the sun.