#40 Jackson Square

by Lucinda Kempe

Bangs swept up with a Lucite clip, small full breasts brushing against cloth and skin the color of a communion wafer, the tall girl walked across Jackson Square. The Artist imagined her pubic hair blushing with peach and crème.

“Hey, Miss. Love your hair,” he blurted out.

She didn’t bat an eye.

“Draw your portrait by candlelight for free?”

If there had been a door between them he would have gotten down on his knees to watch her unawares. But there was just an ever widening space between him and this young woman. Years ago she might have paused, looked him over, given a few hours of her time. The Artist was old. It wouldn’t happen now. The further she got to the corner the more he felt as if he was in a courtyard of the Uffizi after hours, begging, or maybe in Venice, sinking, the world of physical beauty sinking along with him.

A trombone solo floated from a balcony above to the square below. The light would soon be gone. Sadden no more, the notes of the instrument played. The Artist didn’t feel gay, but had lingered too long in the city that care forgot. The trombone solo saturated the sopping air. At last she turned the corner, vanished from sight. His objet du desire, a dragonfly on gossamer wings, flitted beyond touch.

Instead of pain, he transported on the breath of her rejection. Looking up at the moon, everything in him swooned.


John C. Mannone said...

Thank you for posting this, Lucinda. I love the story line that captures two lonely people in their own world. Not much is said about her except that she is aloof and lives a fantasy of her own--the way she's dressed suggests a much younger girl than she is. And by what is said on how she reacts to the old man (and what the narrator reveals) suggests she was once a prostitute (or at least loose woman). Yet, if she doesn't do that anymore, it wasn't because of something transformative. Her reaction to artist isn't mean, but it certainly isn't kind; not even a smile or glance. She doesn't even acknowledge his existence. (We used to call this stuck-up.) Maybe I missed something. Maybe she had encountered this guy before (in a negative way), but I doubt it (there's no support for that hypothesis). If anyone has changed, it is the old man, a true romantic. I love the ending.

Anonymous said...

Few words are exchanged between the characters, yet there is a complex and intricate exchange occurring between them. You tell us so much about each of them, as well as give us a vivid portrait of their interaction. Love this!

Cezarija Abartis said...

So fine: art and love!

Lisa Agosti said...

nice touch, I liked this story

Anonymous said...

Nicely done, Lucinda. NOLA is on the page, along with life and art and bittersweet longings.

Peg F.