The way the houses all sat on top of one other reminded her of some quirky iPhone game
where you had to pile blocks as high as you could without them toppling over. The tension
involved in the game however was resolved on Positano, as the tiny buildings slumped
against their mother mountain, taking the pressure off their fall. Still, it looked as though
plucking one out of place might cause the rest to come tumbling down into the transparent sea. But today, in the gentle peace of the May sun, they were resting together calmly, eager for trickling tourists to explore their many corners.
Eager to find the streets in amongst the white brick sea, Mia began to steadily follow the
crowds away from the shores. Small jewellery stands and white lace stores fenced in her
path up the mountain, giving her time to breath in the colours. Step by step, a new hue fell
into her eye line that pulled her here and there, eyes dancing. After walking the winding
streets for around 20 minutes, she felt a fresh breeze push through the air; she was
reaching the top. A light trinkle of music floated through the air in her direction, and she
allowed it to pull her in. She followed the sound until a crisp clean gallery stood in front of
her. The crowds fell away with the humidity as she entered, finally slowing down Positano’s
The film score settled and sound zeroed in around her as she began to swim among the
artwork. The first piece that caught her eyes was a 3D illusion piece, pink to purple when
one viewed it from the right, purple to pink when viewed from the left. Straight on - it’s
supposed ‘true form’ – showed only a fraction of the wonders that could be found in the
side view. She spent some time shifting her point of view, watching it transform back and
A few sculptures stood in the centre of the room; metals twisted into abstract human forms. None of them meant a great deal to Mia. Something about the physicality of sculptures had always caused her difficulty in connecting to them. As if the ability to touch and feel them, their three dimensional existence, left much less to the viewer’s discretion. There was only so much you could make up about a structure in front of you, whereas with paintings there could be so many layers beneath that added to the final form. Still, she tried to give them a chance, picking through the pre-selected stories in her mind and seeing if any of them fit. It was while staring, determined to find a tie to these sculptures, that a small painting in the back corner of the room caught her eye.
This small, book sized frame was given a wall all to itself. Mia couldn’t make the image out
until she was a metre or two away from it, only the vibrant colours and their directions
visible from the opposite side of the room. The warmth from the image reached her before the visual did, radiating towards her and taunting her forward with its heat. As she stepped closer, specifics came into view. Two black, wet circles lay in a bath of white, surrounded by the finest brush strokes jetting outwards. A small slope of taupe paint curved downwards towards two deep pink peaks. The dark brown frame of a chin is what made her finally see it. It was her. The painting was of Mia.
Her mind raced, trying to figure out if she had lost any memories of sitting for a portrait
painting with a street artist in Italy, or if she had ever come across her own Italian
doppelganger, but nothing came to mind. The way her hairline traced her forehead, the
sharp angles of her nostrils, the concentrated patch of freckles on her right cheek – they
were all there, in perfect accuracy. She was acknowledging parts of her own face that she
had never noticed before, in a mirror that someone else had made. Her own face started to feel like papier-mâché, hand crafted. In the midst of all the feelings that had come over her, it was only after two long minutes that she thought to look at the placard beside the
painting to see who could have known her face so well.
Anonymous, date unknown.
Who could know every inch of her skin, her eyelashes, her lips, so well, that would also
place their work in a small, secluded gallery on the cliff edge of Positano? She remembered the man at the front counter that she had exchanged an awkward but friendly glance with on the way in, and decided that she would have to push her extremely minimal Italian to the extremes in order to see if he knew any more. But as she turned around, he was already there at the other end of the room, in as much shock as she.
“I know it’s me, but it can’t be. You must know who the artist really is.”
“Me? You must know, it is a painting of your own face.”
“I have no idea, I have never been to this country before. I have never sat for a portrait. I
have no idea who could know my face this well.”
The two exchanged every word of what they could in each other’s language, but the gallery
manager, Leo, could only tell her one thing; the young man who had brought the painting
had been from Capri – a couple of hours away on the next ferry. Taking a picture of the
painting and placard, and a note of Leo’s email address, Mia set off back to the pier in
search of the artist.
Katie is an English Literature student at the University of Glasgow, passionate about writing in many forms! She spends a lot of time writing short stories and poetry, published by Speculative Books, and also has a passion for film. Katie wrote the script for Glasgow film company GMAC’s 2019 Summer School, and is currently working on a bigger scale production with an exciting company in America. Katie is also passionate about the Scottish zine scene and has edited and written for Qmunicate, GUM and The Delicate Rebellion.
This story is written as part of the Volume One series by brilliant writers working alongside The House of Revolution. Each author's story will be uploaded to Wattpad weekly, with their first instalment being available to read here on the website. You can keep up to date with Katie's story here.