Saturday, May 7, 2011

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.



Cloudia said...

love transcends!

Saturday evening Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral




Anonymous said...

Interesting, I had the exact opposite reaction as Cloudia above. No two people read the same story . .

Windsmoke. said...

Very enjoyable indeed especially the twist at the end which i didn't see coming this time around isn't true love strange :-).

Beach Bum said...

Cloudia: Thanks.

Stewart: Come one dude, don't go for half measures and pussy foot around, fully express your opposite reaction.

Windsmoke: The local legend did not quite fit the prompt but something similar was spoken about in my hometown back in the early 1970's. The American South had, and still does, some whacked out cultural shit going on and one of them was not quite arranged marriages. Rich families were especially close with the parents often pushing their daughters in certain directions as to whom to marry.

The local legend had it that a poor boy and rich girl fell in love but with the parents of the rich girl okay with her being friends with the boy while in school.

Girl married one of the boys on the "approved" list with the poor boy marrying someone on his social level. The kicker here is that the real legend had them hooking up after their spouses passed away. It was a happy ending, I guess, but I chose to change that.

Pixel Peeper said...

My grandmother surprised me once by saying that you shouldn't mess with true love and nature.

What a sweet and heart-achingly sad story.

Lowandslow said...

A great read. Thanks. :)


Oso said...

This was beautiful, Beach.Did you select the picture first, or did it come later? I was wondering if it was the inspiration ?

Beach Bum said...

Pixel: Thanks, the character Jason turned out a bit of a sucker but that's just how the story worked out for me.

LowandSlow: Thanks!

Oso: Doc picked out the painting, and like I mentioned to Windsmoke I worked with a local story from my hometown.

Marja said...

oh how sad. True love makes the souls connect forever, so will they meet again? Is it true love though as she married her fathers choice.
Would love to see what happens on the other side.

lime said...

though i am sure other participants got other stories out of this i like yours quite a lot. you echo the muted tones and the mystery of the painting so well in your tale. there's a joy and sadness in it all. well done.

Utah Savage said...

It's good enough to have made me cry. You can't get better than that Beach.

Beach Bum said...

Marja: The American South had plenty of utterly crazy customs and traditions that lasted up until very recently. One of the relatively minor ones was rich families pushing their children towards the children of other rich families for marriage. The crazy thing is that the children often went along with it, even when their hearts belonged to someone else.

It had a medieval quality in that fortunes were protected and alliances were forged. The degree to which this happened is, of course, open to debate but I have heard some wild stories.

Lime: Thanks, like I wrote earlier I worked it with a story from my hometown.

Utah: Thanks, I sort of like it myself.

Randal Graves said...

What, no dystopian zombieland? You big sap. But at least the former is real, true love? Bwah! (good writing, though, sir)

Ranch Chimp said...

Thanx for the read Bum ... a touching story of sort.

Beach Bum said...

Randal: Yeah, had to play by teh rules the rules this week. Hell, I might even be under the word count although with me correcting my many typos I may be a little bit over.

For Doomsday fun you should check out the post right before this one.

Ranch: Thanks! Was in a strange mood that day.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

I dread the time coming when all I can do is to sit in front of my picture, waiting for my moment. Now, after reading this little piece, I can understand how that time can come to all of us.

TRUTH 101 said...

I keep threatening to cut down on blogging and only visit a few sites. Yours would be one of the few Beach Bum. Good story.

Joyce said...

How beautiful this is. Everything changes, but love remains. Hopefully, it will be strong enough to bring them together on the other side.

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw said...

Heart-achingly beautiful! As he paints, first the charcoal... then the colors, I can feel Jason's love for Emily. It is almost as if he is making love to her... and then, when the last brush stroke applied... he does!

The ending of your story moved me to tears, and reminded me...

Love endures...

Beach Bum said...

Doc Haagen: Yeah, but I hope I am able to have fun to the bitter end. After that they can taxidermy my ass and stick me on some bar stool.

Joyce: Thank you so much! Some might think the guy a sucker or fool but I can see how such a note might me the one thing that carries them through tough and lonely times.

Veronica: Thank you as well, love is about the only thing we can all hope to find and keep. But the former is tough and the latter even worse.

goatman said...

It is always the lost love that seems the most enticing.

RegCPA5963 said...

Wow! That was powerful, I was going through all kinds of scenarios from the very beginning hoping she wouldn't die young. Great Story and even better writing.

L Turner

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You've somehow picked up on the muted colours in the painting and fitted your story nicely to the feelings those colours invoke. Nicely done.