Flash Fiction Friday (Cycle 30) A moment of happiness
Flash Fiction Friday Prompt: Walter Richard Sickert’s Monington Crescent. Genre: Any Word Count: 1234 words Deadline: Thursday, May 12th, 2011, 4:30 pm EST, God willing and the cricks don’t rise.
The painting hangs on the wall in a quiet, forgotten corner of my son’s house. My daughter-in-law, Sarah, has no idea what the painting means to me, she found it cleaning out the attic of my old house and just used it to cover an empty portion of wall at the end of the hallway. It worked out well since the room I use in their house is just a few feet away. Even with my feeble legs I am able to make my way to the end of the hallway and sit in the comfortable chair she placed opposite the picture and beside the window. My family believes I bring myself to this place every morning because of the warm sun streaming through the window, I allow them to think just that, but they are so wrong. They do not even know the name of the lady in the painting or what we once shared.
When Emily finally agreed to sit for the painting the ocean was still a foamy soup from the tropical storm that had passed over us the day before. I was sitting behind my canvas as she shyly entered the bed room that we made love in the night before feeling the angry waves shake the pilings of the old Pawleys Island beach house that belonged to her uncle. Nothing had existed outside the walls of that room as we both freely gave our bodies and souls to each other attempting to defy the forces, both natural and man-made that challenged our being together.
Closing the door behind her while tightly clutching the robe she wore Emily looked so unsure that l was reminded of the little girl I first met in grade school so many years ago. As children we chased each other around the huge oak tree in the playground then spent our lunchtime sitting underneath it telling each other stories. It was a perfect way to grow up until we entered middle school. Emily, being from a rich family went to a different one than me but we always found time to meet underneath that old oak.
“You act like I haven’t seen your naked body before.” I say setting up my brushes and tubes of paint.
“This is oh so completely different Jason and you know it,” she said now standing by the window looking out at the angry surf.
For a precious moment time utterly froze for me looking at her, Emily still had her satin robe pulled tight and with the sunlight reflecting off its material it created an illusion of being nearly see through. “Please let me paint you standing right there,” I asked.
“No,” she giggled. “Someone walking the beach could look up here and see me. I’m sorry darling but only you will ever see me this way or know the identity of the girl in your painting.”
Her conditions were something I could live with, we eventually realized we were in love during high school but that our positions made any open relationship impossible. I implored her to runaway with me, I told her we were young and the whole country would be open to us. She always said no, that her life was here in South Carolina with her family and the responsibilities that carried.
Her refusal always made me angry, so much that I often stormed off but somehow I always found my way back to that old oak tree and her. Now even that was soon to end forever.
Without any further cajoling Emily untied the rode letting it fall to the floor. Standing there she gave me an intense look of both love and pleasure then moved around the bed and to the loveseat placed in front of it. Emily quickly penned up her hair then took up the pose that would have to stay with me the rest of my life.
I used my charcoal pen to outline the painting, my right hand felt possessed as I shaped the image, it was almost as if I was caressing Emily’s naked back and kissing her exposed neck. With her a few feet away I did my best to imprint the smell of her body to my memory knowing that when we parted I would never have the chance to be next her again. The brass bed, mirror mounted above it, and the loveseat all represented important parts of our time together. I reveled in the cold feeling of the brass, the detail in the wooden frame around the mirror, and the smoothness of the loveseat.
Minutes later I looked at the finished charcoal outline of the painting panting for breath, Emily never moved and I fought the strong urge just to walk over and take her one more time. Instead I began applying the colors knowing whatever muse that held me could leave at any second.
Except for the space close to the window the room was dark and more than a little foreboding, forcing me to mute the colors. My brush strokes were slow and deliberate equally the tenderness she and I shared in that room. It was as if my fingers were touching her body again and I lingered over every portion of the painting. However, it was over all too soon leaving me spent.
Feeling like a prisoner about to be walked to the electric chair the finished painting now stood before me. The emotions of all it meant raged inside my mind and I considered smashing it to pieces, maybe a clean and total break with Emily was the best leaving me to my rejection and loneliness.
“Jason is it done, can I see it?” She asked standing up from the loveseat.
“No,” I said with the sudden idea that this painting would be the one small part of Emily that would forever be mine. Our lives were diverging from this point and this small moment of happiness we shared would have to suffice for me.
We made love for hours on that brass bed and its lumpy mattress that final afternoon together. Our last few minutes were spent just holding each other on the loveseat both knowing the inevitable could no longer be avoided. Emily was the first to leave as the stars started appearing in the window, she walked out respecting my wish that she not look at the painting.
In a small town, no matter how hard a person tries you cannot avoid running into someone you do not want to see. It was the same with Emily, we saw each other the following weeks and because it was common knowledge we were friends I was forced to greet her as if nothing had ever gone on between us.
Time did heal the wounds but they were heavily scarred. Emily married the man her father had been pushing her towards and only the war and my own marriage eased that particular pain. Still my life was not easy or very happy but I always believed you made do with the cards fate dealt. That is until I received a note from Emily a few years ago as she lay in a Charleston hospital bed dying of cancer. She wrote that I was still her true love and that she would be waiting for me on the other side under an oak tree, now I just sit here looking at the picture and wait for my moment.
You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.