It was done now. However, Jowd still found himself painting their faces from time to time. Whether it was habit, a reminder of what he had lost but now had, or merely a joy in painting, he couldn't say. Perhaps it was all three. Nevertheless Jowd painted.
His brush strokes painted out the blue of her shawl. He rinsed the brush, dipped it in more paint and froze when he realized he'd gone for the red. The brush slipped from his hand with a clatter.
Not red. Not anymore. Those stains no longer existed. He stared at the portrait. Blackened eyes. No more. Red splatters. Never again.
Light footsteps and a hand on his shoulder startled him out of his daze.
"Are you all right?"
Alma. Of course. She was here and safe always.
"Brush slipped," he replied easily and swiftly bent down to pick it up. He almost dropped it again. Red stains on the floor. "I'll just clean this up."
He set to wiping up the paint. Wiping away her tears. Everything would be all right. The smell was stronger than he expected. Slick, sticky. Wipe away the blood from his hands after…
Alma knelt next to him and he had no idea when she'd done so.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
He drank in the sight of her. Colour in her cheeks, eyes wide but full of life, alive and present and here. "…Nothing."
"This doesn't look like nothing," Alma replied in a low voice.
But it was. After all nothing was wrong, not anymore. Nothing more than a bad memory of a time that no longer existed. He rose slowly and set the brush aside.
"Better leave this for now before I really make a mess," he said lightly. And he was good at that wasn't he? Leaving a mess he thought he tidily hid away in a locked box and a single bullet.
"I suppose so," Alma said. "But that doesn't answer the question because it hasn't been 'nothing' for a while now." She stood and wrapped an arm around his. "What's going on with you?"
"I'm fine," he said.
She sighed and let him guide them both out of the room. "One day you will talk," she said quietly but firmly - an absolute.
An absolute he couldn't allow. There was nothing more to speak of regardless of what the rapid pounding in his chest told him. It was done and the weakness in his hands meant nothing. It was done now.