I am in the process of unearthing some older short stories
and also writing some new ones with an eye toward publication.
When you comment, I would really appreciate any constructive
criticism that would help me ready these pieces for publication
By Erin M. Hoagland
The curves of this woman are bronze and cold. A metal so burnished,
so fiery should be warm to the touch, but not her, no. Not
Cymbeline. She is cold and she is faced away from me, her eyes cast
to the floor, her posture one of despair and servitude. No one is
looking. The silence makes me think that the other gallery crawlers
are standing around like an audience, waiting to see what I will do
next. They aren't.
I drop my pad and the sepia conte I work in, like daVinci before me.
I place my sketching license nearby, hoping that it will shield me
from the security guards who would no doubt take pleasure in removing
me from the building. Because what I am about to do is definitely
I sidle closer to Cymbeline. I place my fingertips on the gentle
rise of her ankle...and I stroke.
She is so cold. Touching her does not make her warm to me. But I
warm to her. Oh yes. I drift over her curves, slide along the hills
and planes of her body, caress her like a lover and a child. I want
her for my very own, want to cage her on my pages. I use both hands,
bolder in my touch. Knowing if one blue came around the bend or one
crawler decided to turn me in, I would be ejected like yesterday's
news out the front door.
A voice, silky smooth like lemon chiffon pie startles me.
"She is beautiful, isn't she?"
I turn, drawn by the smile in the voice even as I dread being thrown
out of this gallery that I am close to calling Home, as much time as
I spend here. She is no blue. She is no ordinary crawler, unrefined
She is wearing fine linen the color of Devon cream. A tailored suit,
blazer, silk blouse, perfect creamy heels. Her hair is silver corn
silk. Her eyes are slices of lime. She smiles softly at my
surprise. I think about cherry vanilla ice cream and carousels for
no reason at all.
"She is beyond my reach." I say the words but I do not know what
Her smile deepens, her eyes sparkle. "That isn't necessarily true."
I tug at the unkempt knot of hair at the nape of my neck and suddenly
feel unclean next to this woman who is so pure I am sure I could make
a convincing argument that she is carved from a block of Ivory soap.
"My name is Olivia," she says, and she reaches out her hand to
me. "This is my gallery."
I take the hand and grasp it lightly, leaving little smudges of sepia
with my fingerprints embedded within. I feel an ownership I have no
right to feel.
"Emma," I say, knowing I am not regarded with disdain or
disapproval. But my voice disappears anyway.
"Yes, I know. I have seen you here before." She comes closer to
Cymbeline, runs her fingers up the cold, bronze thigh. Her eyes, now
emerald green, light on me. "I make it my business to know the names
of people I see here four days out of six, on average." She grins at
a private joke. "You have some very talkative friends."
"I do?" Only three people I love have ever been with me here. I am
at a loss as to which one would speak to this graceful woman and not
tell me immediately afterward. I briefly consider disowning whomever
it turns out to be.
"Yes. They seem to think very highly of you. As an artist and as a
person." Her eyes dip away and it is the first hesitancy I have seen
in her. Like a bullet changing its own course at the last
minute. "I have a question," she announces quietly.
Apple green eyes lift and then fall, like angels suffering the
judgment of God. "Will you draw me?"
I nearly gasp and find I have to force my fingers not to twitch
openly with anticipation.
"I—I only draw nudes," I say, amazed that I have said these words.
It is true, but how dare I say that to a beautiful woman standing
just this side of Heaven and just that side of Cymbeline in bronze.
She leans forward and whispers bravely in my ear, a co-conspirator
now. A brilliance of purpose and desire.
"And I only love women," she breathes. "A perfect match."
Her smile sets the world ablaze. I find the center of the flame is
green and hot.
She reaches out for my hand and I give it to her like the best peach
of the season. Silently, she takes me beyond these fields of stone
and through Dutch sunflowers and Italian pomegranates to a sacred
square inch of space where only Alice and the remnants of her drink
should be able to fit.
A lamp. A chair. An easel. A divan.
Paper. Conte. Canvas. Paint.
The tools of my people. The ticket to this place.
The divan is red velvet and warm.
In my haste, I forget my hands and I leave fingerprints around her
navel. On the insides of her knees. On her bottom lip.
I worry they will condemn me but they melt in the heat.
And wash away.
Wow. This is an amazing story. Amazing. I like to receive constructive criticism, but I can never manage to give any (unless the story is really horrible, which this is most certainly not). Writing, like any other art, is so hard to judge. The only thing is (and I'm not even sure about this), isn't da Vinci two words?
isn't da Vinci two words? First, I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to respond to this. I'm so far behind responding to comments and emails that I doubt I'll ever get caught up again. However, you are correct. da Vinci is two words. I will correct that in the next draft of this. Thanks for responding!
You're welcome!And don't worry about taking awhile. I know how that is...I have so many unanswered emails. :\