Balthus, The Golden Days, oil on canvas, 1944-45.

I pretended to be sweetly dead, freshly killed. I held an imaginary knife, a fist to my chest.

“Look, I’m like that Balthus painting, you know the one.”

“Very funny,” he said.

“Don’t you like my game? I could do this whole book of art here.”

“That is nice,” he said, not looking up from his newspaper.

“Would it be nice if I were dead?”