‘Turn more to your right.’ He instructs, holding his brush vertical and winking measurements to himself.

She winces. Her thighs are bruised and grazed beneath the layers of skirts and lies.  Were her larder not a hollow shell, she would have stayed in bed, not sat for the painter. But little boys need food.

Weeping inwardly, she remembers scolding her precious son before leaving their rooms that morning, ‘And I shall not let you grow as a twisted oak like your Father!’ she’d vowed.

‘Come, woman, if you will not smile, at least relinquish that frown!’ snaps the painter.

‘Forgive me.’

‘Hah! I could have had Maria here for an hour longer at half the price!’

The woman they will call Mona Lisa glares a moment. Then, releasing her angry brow lines, she plans the methodology for raising bettered sons.


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