We had been exchanging emails for very long, so we hadn't met up personally. That Tuesday was the day in which we'd finally meet. I knew she was a pure-air maker, a product people enjoyed consuming in big cities. She was a craftswoman; she filtered the air manually and put it into flasks she sold. I was a flower painter, a fellow who painted half-natural flowers to give a spontaneous appearance, as if they had grown up in a garden, which was something absolute unthinkable in those days.
She was exactly the same person I had seen on photos. I gave her a kiss as a greeting. But she wasn't alone. She was accompanied by a middle-aged man. "This is Mike", she said as she introduced him to me. "He illustrates my flasks, so he's an artist".
Artists. I was fed up of those self-named artists. We met in a bar downtown. I just had twenty minutes, but during that time we spend drinking a coffee, Mike went out three times to smoke. During one of the periods in which he absent, she gave me a plastic bag. It contained one of her pure-air flasks. I thanked her for the present. I thought I'd breathe it with pleasure the next weekend at home, while watching a film on TV. Suddenly Mike came in. He saw me grabbing the flask. All his previous kindness became wrath. I saw it on his eyes. He spitted his words to her:
"We had agreed no bottle would be given as a present. Did you tell him the price?"
She hesitated. No word came out of her mouth.
"Fifty Euros", he said without giving her the chance to open her mouth. "That's the price, fifty Euros".
I felt completely embarrassed. The situation was totally uncomfortable, even violent. So I glanced at her trying to sound natural:
"I'll transfer you the money tomorrow", I said. Then I left hurrying into the underground station while I put on my air mask.
Three days later, she got a parcel from me. I hadn't sent her the money, I'd never do that, but I had sent the pure-air flask back to her. The flask was unopened, though one of the flowers I had painted was placed inside, alive, because the air inside was untouched. I do know she's still wondering how I achieved to put that flower inside without opening the flask. It was a mystery I'll never explain her, but maybe her friend Mike could illustrate the flower I had placed in, also without opening the flask. Maybe he could, yes, maybe, and then sell it for hundred Euros, or two hundred, or for a piece of a man’s soul.
Frantz Ferentz, 2014