Saturday, January 13, 2007

Gallerie Impressions ~~ anna hood ~~

They danced endlessly and forever, around and around
the painted ballroom. The ladies in silken jewel gowns,
lace at cuffs, pearls gleaming on slender necks.
The men formal, proper. Golden sparks from the candles
bounced across the dancers’ hair.

Each lunchtime, except when it rained, Jeff Symonds
sat on the stone bench in front of ‘Gallerie Impressions’
eating his sandwich and gazing into the window
at the dancers as they waltzed endlessly around
and around the light-spangled room.

The painting on display was recent but done in the manner
of the impressionists, light drenched, back lit, with moist
reflections. Bursting with colour.

He was a student of this painting, knew all its characters
by heart.He’d named them, given them jobs - in his mind
of course. Often at night, after his book store, The Last Edition,
closed he’d take his evening stroll, his Scotch
terrier Angus sedate at his side. He’d stop
at the gallery window and softly whistle a dance song.
He favoured old music and as often as not it would be
a sprightly Cole Porter tune. The dancers would change
pace, legs would kick in time to, ‘Anything goes,’
or perhaps, ‘You’re the top.’

The girl in the pink frock, standing alone, her head slightly tilted
as if she was listening, was his favourite. Jeff knew every curl
on her head, every fold in her dress. He knew her bra size,
that she wore flesh coloured panties. He’d felt the
silkiness of her inner thighs, knew that the curve of her hip
fit perfectly into his hand. Jeff knew all there was to know
about her. She smelled liked almonds.

Evenings he’d stand outside the gallery window dreaming
his head was in her hair, breathing in its auburn scent.
Lost in its gleam. Her name was Natalie. Jeff knew
she still lived at home with an elderly papa. Old money there...
not that Jeff was interested in her money.

He’d watch her smile at the dancers. Smile at her Papa
who stood, top hat in hand, as he talked with a young gentleman.
Gentleman hah!

Robert (Jeff prounouced it Ro-bear.) stood at the drinks table
beside crystal decanters bursting with painted highlights,
holding aloft a champagne glass, smug, a sly gleam
in his black eyes. That moustache! A bounder for sure.
A social climber! Trying to marry into her money.
A red rage washed Jeff crimson. He was just ready to take
his fist to him when Angus placed a paw on his leg.
Jeff bent down to the little dog, “Time to be getting home, boy?”
Then they’d make their way home where Jeff would go to bed
to dream dreams where Natalie would visit.

One evening in late April, as Jeff was passing by the gallery
Ro-bear deliberately, and with malice, turned his face to leer,
yes leer, at Natalie. It was too much for Jeff.
He scooped Angus into his arms and stepped into the picture.

The next day The Last Edition was closed. The sign on the front
door read: Gone dancing. No one noticed any changes
in the painting, that the man with his champagne glass raised
was missing, or that the girl who wore the pink frock
and smelled of almonds now danced with a gentleman
in modern dress, or that a little Scottie dog watched
from under the drinks table.

When the Cole Porter tune ended Jeff nuzzled Natalie’s
neck, "Let's go home, sweetheart," he said and whistled
for Angus. The music started, a Strauss waltz,
and the dancers once again began their endless
dance around the sun drenched room.

Now an artist has set up his easel in front of the art gallery.
His subject: The book store, The Last Edition. He’s painting it
in the manner of the impressionists. Back-lit with moist reflections.
Bursting with colour. Patrons sit in the window drinking espresso
and nibbling croissants as they turn the pages of their books.
A little Scottie dog sits on the front step beside a young woman
with auburn curls. She’s dressed in an old fashioned manner
in a pink frock. She rocks a baby in a carriage.

Soon this painting will be on display in the window
of Gallerie Impressions. And one of these days perhaps
a young man will sit on the stone bench and
watch as the woman endlessly rocks a baby in a carriage.
Perhaps he might imagine her name is Natalie. Perhaps
he’ll begin to imagine wicked things about
the man who watches her from the book store window
with a tender expression on his face.

Perhaps she’ll steal his breath away.



Blogger Bernita said...

Natalie as a lamia?
Interesting, interesting twist.

5:24 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Oh Anna! You've not written a short story in so long! This is wonderful! Terrific twist at the end. I could almost hear the music, smell almonds!

5:43 AM  
Blogger Atyllah said...

Oh what a wonderful bit of whimsy. I did so love the reality becoming fantasy becoming reality. What wonderful blurring of what is and would might be. Terrific colour!

5:54 AM  
Blogger anna said...

Bernita, you have me laughing so hard. I read this quickly
Natalie as a labia? haha!
I really hate to show my ignorance but what the hell is a lamia anyway? not in my old red dictionary - not in Word thesaurus

Roberta, glad you liked it.
It isn't new (sigh) just fiddled with a bit

Atyllah, I used to love to write magical realism; it used to be my favourite. I miss it.

thanks ladies (big hug)

6:40 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

This is very good, Anna!

6:56 AM  
Blogger Atyllah said...

Ah, then you must know the work of Angela Carter?

11:22 AM  
Blogger anna said...

Jeff thanks so much for stopping by.

Atyllah, I have heard of her - she died quite young - in the 90s?
I've never read any of her work -
should I?

4:12 AM  
Blogger Atyllah said...

If you're into magical realism, then yes. Try "the bloody chamber and other stories" or "Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales."

5:55 AM  
Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Picturesque & seductive!

6:43 AM  
Blogger anna said...

thanks Susan for reading.
and Atyllah, I'll add her to my list.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Yes, Angela Carter is lovely and another of her precious books is
The Magic Toyshop (surreal adult fiction).

7:17 PM  
Blogger Saaleha said...

I'm going to savour these, like expensive chocolate. Words that melt and glide with aching sweetness into the senses. Wonderful starter. Now for the rest.

11:28 PM  
Blogger anna said...

Susan, now i will definitely have to look for some Angela Carter. perhaps the used book store.

And Saaleha, what a lovely surprise to see you. Thank you so very much

3:04 AM  
Blogger Bernita said...

Succinctly and crudely put, a lamia is a soul-sucker.

5:12 AM  
Blogger anna said...

bernita, i shall add lamia to my list (g)

6:55 AM  
Blogger jason evans said...

Such tender and artful descriptions. And sweet.

Your story was like stepping into a painting.

Excellently done.

2:26 PM  

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