She said she was bored. Then she shot upright and said that I should paint her. I was cool to the idea, at first, coming out of the blue like that. But as she talked about it, I began to see that it might be quite interesting. She was going to undress, and drape herself on the couch, and as she was very tired, she’d most probably fall fast asleep. I could capture the essence in her sleeping face, she said. Some clue to the processes that operated inside her while she was unconscious. I could show her as she really was, in the paint. On the canvas. I said that she seemed to have a great deal of faith in my abilities. She snorted, as if my abilities were a given. I don’t see how she could have taken them for granted. I hadn’t shown her a single painting I’d completed. She said that I’d be helping her with a problem she had. One she’d had most of her life. People always seemed to look at her from the edges of their eyes, as if they didn’t really want to engage with her. She thought for a moment. ‘It’s as if they’re not sure,’ she said. ‘Like they want to know me without getting to know me.’ It troubled her. She wanted to see what others saw when they looked at her. Then she changed her mind about it, and said that it didn’t really matter to her one way or the other what people thought about her. But it was too late – she’d already said it. ‘I just want to understand things a bit better,’ she said. She told me I’d be performing a social function by painting her. I didn’t quite see that. I think she meant therapeutic. But I was all ready to paint at that stage, whatever the reasons. But then she said she’d even buy the painting. It would be my first sale, she said. A commission, and a guaranteed sale. But it didn’t feel like the real thing. It didn’t feel real to me at all. I hadn’t imagined my first sale would be quite so uncritical, so matter-of-fact. I wished then that I hadn’t told her I was yet to sell a painting. I imagined that she would be the type who’d go around in the future telling everyone that she was the first buyer, as if it meant anything at all.