Delusional

By Susan Roberts

Sometimes I worry about my sanity. I am delusional. Delusions of grandeur, I think they’re called. For example, the other day I felt like Michelangelo.

Yes, I know it’s twelve years since I last painted a ceiling, but the little one over my toilet and shower is only about two and half metres square, so I thought it would be a simple task to slap a bit of paint over the mildewed spots; maybe even decorate it with a design of some kind. A fake painted skylight might be nice, showing a pale blue sky beyond, flecked with drifting clouds. I could scatter some luminous stars across it, to light up at night, even though it might freak out the cats. And any visitor who stays over. You know – the kind who is too embarrassed to switch on the light when he visits the bathroom in the middle of the night, for fear of waking me… yeah, yeah, dream on.

Like I said – delusional.

I didn’t think my little painting project would turn into this epic mission-and-a-half, though. It was easy enough to choose my colours, buy the paint, undercoat and brushes, and even to stick the masking tape around the tops of the walls. I waited for a suitably dry, sunny day – yesterday – and then I began to paint.

By the time I was a third of the way through doing the undercoat, my left hand was numb from gripping the underside of the one-litre paint tin. At two thirds, I had to take a break, drink some iced water and wolf down some toast to counteract both the sweating and my shaking left hand. The fingertips of that hand now have a nasty groove curving across them – an imprint that I think will be with me for a long time.

Later in the afternoon, I forced myself to finish the task. I am biased, of course, but I have to admit that my new ceiling looks like a masterpiece. And that’s just the undercoat. Oh, did I forget to mention that I didn’t get as far as painting the rest of my design? I didn’t even get the second tin open, in fact. But that’s okay – unopened paint will keep till the next project. Maybe I’ll decorate the wall behind the toilet – in about twelve years from now. In the meantime, I’ll just leave that gleaming white undercoat up on the ceiling forever, so that everyone else can admire my handiwork. I wonder if Michelangelo felt like this as he gazed up at his masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I wonder if he felt this good, this satisfied. This sore. Oh, my poor aching back and hands!

Which brings me to my next delusion. Today I feel like Tutankhamen. No, not like a rich king covered in gold; more like a very old, aching person, whose well-deserved sleep was interrupted too early. Perhaps I should have painted over the bathroom mirror instead, then I wouldn’t have to see my resemblance to Tutankhamen’s sleep-deprived face and hunched, shrivelled body reflected back at me, looking exactly like a corpse that should have been left in the peace of its sarcophagus for another century or two.

Tomorrow I think I’ll be Rip van Winkle.

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