Indigo: Chapter 2B
We explored the deep recesses of her reticent mind and stopped to marvel at the harvest of brimming jewels that it afforded. We talked of her pleasant hours and of her favoured nooks and of whether or not she sucked on her finger after dipping it into the honey jar. We dug up our hearts and placed them on our tongues and watched them beat side by side. We talked of new things and of ancient, and managed to taste one or two of the other’s secrets.
But the desert was cold at night and the cold was arrogant and unrelenting—arch-rival to fervour—and powerful. We finally took the rope ladder again, to the ground. The cold was powerful, but separate us it would not. We wandered to a giant divan in the sitting room, she wise as serpents, and I harmless as doves. We sat down at first, and somehow our fingers locked.
I do not know how I found my arms around her, but her head was lying on my chest, rising and falling with my deep breaths. My fingers pleated circles into her temples, then traced her cheeks down to her stirring lips. I felt her voice in the caverns of my lungs, rather than heard it, and her breath was the breeze on my fingertips.
Her lips were soft as ripe strawberries to my touch.
We felt comfortable, familiar, like two interlocking jewels in a necklace. Her contour fitted to mine like some work of art of perfect proportions. (The artist within me re-awakened, perhaps. The gambler pushed him away and toyed with the smooth skin of her neck.)
Then something strange happened. Somehow, perhaps telepathically, perhaps as a last desperate leap for the privilege of existence—perhaps coincidence—one of the sparks within my heart jumped to hers. She sat up, perched tenderly over me, and turned to look into my eyes. “I am an artist,” she said.
So she was an artist, was she?
So was I. Well, amateur I would say—budding artist. An early fancy of mine that came and went with the daylight. Or perhaps with the night.
“Amateur of course, you understand. I have never showed anyone my pictures,” she said.
A woman artist was a rare thing. Not that I doubted the aptitude of the gender, only the climate of the times did not smile upon it. Perhaps I had stumbled upon more rare a dainty than I had first imagined.
She must have seen the spark in my eye, or sensed its origin. At once I saw a flame ignited as if by a rush of oxygen—a flame that can only be ignited by the convergence of two like-minded souls. Perhaps she saw the malnourished artist within me. She said, “Would you like to see some?”
My artist wrestled with my gambler—the one’s lithe limbs raking at the other’s gaunt, opportunist eyes. They tumbled around inside and I tried to keep on a mask of deep immersion rather than betray the two quarreling kings.
But we were so close!
Close to what?
Close to next time.
Next time will simply fade.
I opened my mouth to say, tomorrow, but it came out, “Can I?” I hoped she could not see me kicking at myself.
She gave a little nod and jumped up. I gathered my facilities and shrugged deeply as I waited for her return.
The canvases under her arm were displayed in front of me. They were beautiful, each exquisite line made into exquisite wholes—but I could not help but think that I was simply trading one kind of beauty for another. The beauty of touch for that of expression. Was not movement a form of expression anyway?
She turned the pages absently too, and we barely took in masterpiece after breathtaking masterpiece as if they were birds passing overhead in the midst of a duel. There was something amiss, something she was suppressing, but I could not tell what.
A tiger strolled by in a meadow of long grass, seeming to leap off the pages and into reality. Every skein of fur was replicated with care and detail, but they were lost to me. Were not the actual hands that turned the pages more beautiful than the most stunning illustration of such? Why could she not see this? The melody of her creations was striking in its majestic beauty, but rarely these days did I trade sleep for art. Living beauty had become my insomnia, not a sketched sham.
The futility of the symbolism and the proxy that we were making our occupation frustrated me, throttled my senses. But even more, I frustrated myself. I longed to permanently dismiss my conflicting fascinations in favour of one or other, but again found myself at their mercy. The pages blurred and snapped at me with leaden teeth and I shrunk away, back into myself.
The dawn found us piled again on the sagging divan, but this time there was an almost tangible coldness in my body holding her body, my hand holding hers. We parted emptily and cordially, as if all the discoveries of the night—not even yet distanced by sleep—meant nothing. I collected the various things I had brought with me to the bath from the stool on which they had lain for hours, and returned through the cold, early dew to the guest room.
And I slept.
Labels: Short Story