MollyMolly may or may not have been an elementary school teacher in Boulder county.

Molly may or may not have been willing to give up her career, her profession, her very home, for the man she loved.

Molly may or may not have been engaged to be married to the man she loved when she posed for the artist, and, if she did, we don’t know why.

She may or may not have said that it was a fling, a fancy, something she would never do, this posing for the artist.

She may or may not have said that it was her last gasp of rebellion at the impending change in her life, the permanent and irrevocable loss of her independence, now and forevermore, from that time, and from that place.

Look at my hair, Molly says, pulled up over my head. See my dark face with its imperfections, my freckles, my unsymmetrical mouth, emerging as if from the graphite carbon of solid stone. Black, black, I appear to you, but I know you will become transfixed upon my piercing green eyes and once I have locked you within my gaze, only then will you start to notice parts of me formerly undiscovered. It’s all there, from this time, and from this place.

See the flecks of orange at my ears. And my black hair? It’s not black at all, but mingled purple with a purpose. Keep looking, I dare you, and you will see beyond my face and below my skin to the veins of grey and pink and light blue running down my neck.

Do you like what you see? I do not give a damn what you like. I only deign to look back if you dare match my gaze. And I will see right through you with my deep, deep emerald eyes.

I am looking beyond you, to my battlefield, to the struggle that will determine the very course of my life. Look again, and you will see that I have smeared my face with bright red war paint, like the ancient Celtic warrior that I am. My forehead, my cheeks, my hair. Red, red that is redder than fire drips from my chin and mingles with the blood coursing through my determined, obstinate body.

Do you think I bleed? Do you think I bleed for you? Don’t be a fool. I am fierce. I am indestructible.

I am Molly.

Molly is an oil painting by Boulder artist William Stoehr