“Hey, Vincent, got a minute?” she asked.
“A minute,” he said. “Don’t want the sunflowers to wilt.”
“Are they in enough water?”
“I think so,” he said.
“Because they’re really thirsty and can go dry very quickly.”
“I’ll check again.”
“I just wanted to know how your ear is.”
“Oh, that. I’m fine. I’m a fast healer.”
“Glad to hear it. I was just wondering why you did it.”
“To show how much I loved someone.”
“Did it work?”
:Yeah, I get that.”
“You do?” he asked.
“People don’t like getting body parts as gifts. It’s rather off putting. Try a ring or necklace next time. Even flowers would have been better.”
“Good to know.”
“If you’re not sure what to do call Theo. He’s married and had practice.”
“I just thought…”
“Thought what?” she asked.
“Well, anyone can buy jewelry or flowers.”
“While that’s true, few women enjoy getting a bloody bit of flesh as a gift. I mean she can’t wear it, can she? What did you think she would do with it?”
“It was the point. I was wiling to mutilate myself for her.”
“Trust me. Stick with the jewelry.”
“Sorry about the whole Gauguin thing.”
“I had such high hopes.”
“I know. Both of you were a bit too high strung to really stay together in a small space. Besides, he was jealous of how fast you worked, as well as how brilliant you were.”
“We inspired each other.”
“That’s true, but if he had stayed, one of you might have ended up dead.”
“You had quiet a few problems of your own, Vincent.”
“I did. Actually, I still do.”
“I feel bad for all the things you’ve been through.”
“Why? It’s your fault and my quirks made me the artist I am.”
“That’s what I decided to call the things that are wrong with me.”
“Whatever works,” he agreed.
“You’re going to be loved by people and you will be more famous than you can ever imagine.”
“You think so?”
“I know so.”
“I don’t even have money for ale. I try to pay with my paintings, but no one wants them. That’s one reason I did the ear thing. It didn’t cost anything and I’m a passionate man. I guess I could have picked the flowers.”
“The money thing will change.”
“In time for me to enjoy it?”
“No. Not in time for that.”
He looked down.
“You will live on, for as long as art and human beings exist. Your story will live on as well.”
“What about Theo?”
She shook her head.
“I wish I could help you, or make things turn out differently, but…”
“Why can’t you?”
“Why can’t you change things? What stopping you?”
“I…I would be changing history,” she said.
“Who knows what would happen, if I did that? You might never become our Vincent.”
“Save Theo. I don’t care about myself.”
“After he’s gone, his wife manages your work.”
“Save him. Please. Can you do it?”
“He just needs penicillin.”
“Then give him whatever that is.”
She stared at him, as he walked toward her. He embraced her and she could feel him trembling. “Please. Save my brother,” he whispered.
“I will,” she said, squeezing him tightly.
In a parallel universe, Theo lived to a ripe old age, surrounded by his wife and children. He cared for his brother’s work, selling it and making sure that in hung in important museums across the globe. A universe where Monet, Gauguin, Picasso and several others did not exist.
Sometimes someone changes things a bit. Truthfully, it happens all the time and not always for the better. There’s nothing that can be done about it. If you time traveled, you’d do it too. Trust me…you would.