Attempted dazzle….

You may recall the competition Parenthesis is running, and for those tempted, you still have time.

Anyways, for those who care, my entry is up here.

****update****

Decided to post it here as well……based on this image.

Depth Perspective

A blessing or a curse.

Old buildings, that is. When architects first dreamt the grand design of the National Museum of Fine Arts some 80 years ago, Cassandra doubted that noise insulation would have been a high priority. So if anyone was particularly interested in the steady drone emanating from a tweedy figure up front, the sound of the rain beating down upon the chasmal roof would have made it even harder to divine anything intelligible. For Cassandra however, the cacophony was a welcome relief. She’d heard Wim Vonkleheim lecture before, and far preferred the din of a million liquid soldiers waging a relentless war above.

Always choose a seat near the exit.

Cas glanced down the hallway to her left, closed the door and was thankful once more to the rain; this time for keeping the tourists away. It wasn’t that she was agoraphobic, but art should always be viewed with as little interference as possible, and the last thing Cas needed was some neanderthal spewing tiny flecks of beef jerky, crying out to the world, “Damn but Picasso was one weird son’fa bitch!”.

Through Contemporary Installations and along the Hall of Masks, Cas could hear her pulse throbbing in her ears. Museum staff were setting up a new exhibit in African Antiquities, but that would have to wait. For the moment, her eagerness only had room for two words; Teagen Calla.

First Light of Mourning.

Calla had been showcased here three years ago, but his most popular painting had not made the journey. People still came in their droves to see his particularly devious brand of photorealism, but First Light induced a type of hysteria more akin to that of a bloody-eyed statue of the Virgin Mary. Perhaps that was why the event organisers had elected not to show it; the NMFA’s budget was more curio store than Louvre. But they would never have gotten away with it a second time.

Cas stole a glance at the security posted to either side of the entrance to Gallery C, but both seemed nonplussed at the arrival of this lone visitor, nor conscious of the value of the painting hanging on the far wall, behind rope and chain.

A slow emotion replay.

Seeing the original for the first time clarified the thought that had lived as a peripheral blur for so long in Cassandra’s mind. Somehow, Calla had been able to capture hours and days of sadness in just one expression. The slight tilt of the subject’s head, the corners of the mouth, the black cross around her neck; even the colour of her lipstick. Within all these frozen details, a tale of the inexorable. And the hidden eyes. His technique was staggering, but that one decision hinted at genius. It was a gamble too, and one that was initially heavily criticised. Did not the accumulation of human emotion reside within the eyes? Perhaps he was burdened with the inability to capture what he so desperately sought to convey? But those who had followed Calla’s work knew better, and as it turned out, so did the public.

Transference. Projection.

Whatever you chose to call it, people began to see their own eyes hidden behind that dark brim. Their own grief, their own sadness. When no one else seemed to understand, she did. This woman, this incarnation. If death stalked shadowy streets in black cloak and scythe, then desolation had chosen an avatar in acryllic. In the same way that Kilmt’s The Kiss symbolised for many the heady, intoxicating rush of that most intimate of human touches, First Light was the image that provided so many with an understanding companion in the darkest time of their lives. It was widely known that Calla painted not from photographs, only from his memories, but investigations of his past held no clues. Who was this woman? A relative, a lover? Calla had always avoided answering the question, but stories took form from whispers and dusk. She was a stranger at a friend’s funeral, she was a memory of his mother, she was a complete fabrication. But her identity did not matter to most, only her pain.

The wrong decision.

What was that? How could she know it if she didn’t even know what the right decision was? Cas checked her watch to make sure the other students would still be engaged for another half-hour or so. Then, she slid a thin file from the faded leather confines of her bag. Anyone looking over her shoulder might have seen pages of scribbled notes, photos, and even a few copies of First Light, but Gallery C was still empty. It had taken many hours of research and interviews to fill these few pages, but the answers had not been derived from some grand race against the clock. No riddles, no quests, no danger. Just patience, a natural proclivity for cynicism, and a little luck. And yet, Cassandra’s hand still trembled slightly as she held up a photo. She already knew the answer, never really needed to compare it with the original, but she had to be sure. Same shade of lipstick, same dress, black cross and hat.

Cas had heard it said, “A lie will travel around the world twice, before the truth even gets its boots on”. This lie would be hanging on walls for generations. And this truth had taken thirty years to catch up. She looked at the photo for one last time before slipping it back into the folder, and turned to leave. The same pale skin shimmered like a dying moon, but the eyes looked out from beneath ebony brows, fierce and unmistakable.

The woman was smiling.

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~ by tenmiles on February 21, 2007.

7 Responses to “Attempted dazzle….”

  1. Those photos were difficult to pin anything to (at least they were for me ) … but not, of course, for you. Masterful (as usual). When are you going to approach a publisher with a book outline dammit?

  2. Oh dear. I think I’ll give it a shot!

  3. Gooseflesh I tell you. Sheer brilliance. You have my vote [you paying attention KN?]

  4. Nothing short of sublime, but on the Kyknoord literary evaluation scale, comprising:

    Number of tanks and squirrels in the story;
    Gratuitous use of the word “defenestrate” (and derivatives thereof);
    Inadvertent haiku and/or iambic pentameter;
    Dangling participle to mixed metaphor ratio; and
    Nudity

    I’m afraid you only score a meagre 9 out of a possible 50. Michelle is kicking your ass, ‘cos she has WAY more nudity.

  5. Nudity, tanks, squirrels, and defenestration. Got it.

    Stay tuned……..

  6. Here we go again …
    *rolls her eyes*
    What is it with you two and small furry critters, huh?
    [In fact, no, don’t answer that.
    I don’t want to know 🙂

  7. […] Ten Miles walked away with the prize last time round. […]

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