Tonight was the big night. Half an hour before the exhibition started, I picked up some extra copies of my photographs from the lab and headed straight to the art gallery not knowing what to expect. This was the very first time my art would be shown to the public.
Once I got there, I was pleased with the fair amount of people that decided to show up to support me. My neighbor, Terry and Carly and her friend Beatrice were the first to show up. Ryan arrived shortly afterwards and his presence was a stress reliever. He was proud and extremely supportive of me. Many art lovers with fine taste passed by my exhibition space, and most of them stuck around. I made sure to introduce myself to all of them and exchange business cards. I managed to sell various copies of my work as well as one original piece I printed from a negative I shot a couple of years ago. As the night went on, I became more comfortable and at ease with the crowd. Until he showed up.
The first thing I noticed about him was his smell which, now that I think about it, is very unusual. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled someone before actually seeing them. He approached me from behind, and I could tell he was getting closer as the scent got stronger. He said my name, and at first, I didn’t turn. I watched him get closer and closer from the corner of my eye before I did. He looked exquisitely handsome in his expensive suit. He stood a bit too close to me, causing major discomfort as he leered at me. I took a deep, inward breath and almost forgot to exhale.
Matthew Eldon knew he had a serious effect on me when he grinned. He held out his hand to shake mine and I forced myself to do the same. After a brief moment of awkward silence, I asked him what he was doing at my show, and his answer was obscure. He then quickly changed the subject and complimented my work. I thanked him and moved away. There’s a strange and ominous vibe about him and the way he showed up unannounced that’s perpetually unsettling. There was no way his attendance was a coincidence. He doesn’t even live here. I also didn’t want to make the night about him when it was about me and my future. The exhibition was the perfect opportunity for me to get my name and work out there, hopefully prompting a career start as a photographer. This was the only way for me to establish my credibility as an artist.
When the show was over and everyone including Ryan started heading out of the gallery, I saw him come back to me when I thought he had already left. He asked me if I was interested in having a drink at a restaurant nearby, and I had to rain check his offer, using the breaking down of the show as an excuse. He said he’ll be here for another week for work and asked if we could reschedule, and I didn’t know what to say to that. He stared at me for a few seconds and I impulsively invited him over to my place for dinner this Friday. I didn’t know why I did that. The words just came out of my mouth before they went through my head. There was no turning back. Looking at the bright side, the dinner will be a way for me to get some answers and clear out any suspicions regarding his sudden appearance at the show and back into my life.