Nude from Life

byDonElvira©

I'm sitting at a drawing board in a musty classroom, inhaling charcoal dust and acrylic paint and the emanations of tobacco-soaked pea coats. My hands are quivering slightly as I anticipate the moment—not more than minutes away now—when the love of my life will uncover her nudity before me, and before a small congregation of unwashed lesbians and bearded morons.

On the wall behind me, beside shelves of aprons and brushes, hangs a watercolor of an obese female nude and a graphite drawing of the Citgo sign. A black curtain and a towel-draped ottoman stand at the front of the room. The top of a closed door peers out from behind the curtain. It must be the portal to the changing room, wherein resides my throbbing heart, and a radiant bare nymph. Oh Nessa!

I can smell the girl beside me. She has a horrible tattoo of an eye on her upper arm. Oculus brachii must be the anatomical term for this sad defect. She probably plays the mandolin or toy piano, and owns a coffee table book of "street art," which is probably covered in marijuana ashes and sits atop a vibrant painted table, which itself was no doubt crafted in a rancid bedroom in Allston by her friend Ray, the self-styled psychonaut and amateur mycologist. She's tessellating the back of her pale hand with a ballpoint pen. If we transposed her tattoo into the drawing of the Citgo hieroglyph we'd have the beginnings of a Masonic Temple.

It is considered very poor form within the life drawing community to sit in on sessions wherein the model is one's acquaintance, and doubly so if she is one's former lover, and triply so when one does not have her permission. I have therefore been compelled to make special arrangements in order to secure my attendance at this joyous event: I wrote a very sympathetic message to Madame de Saint-Ange of the Boston Academy of Fine Arts, asking if I would perchance be allowed, out of the kindness of her heart, to sit in on her figure drawing class.

Since I am already an accomplished artist, as a cursory look at my portfolio would make obvious, and have long ago outgrown this Figure Drawing 101 type dilettantism, I had to invent a colorful backstory, so that my plea would be plausible. I told Madame about my early proclivity for painting, about my winning the district fine arts competition at my small town high school, about how my redneck parents had pressured me to enlist in the army, about how I was sent away to Iraq, where I watched my comrades lose their lives and limbs, about how I returned home penniless and psychologically damaged, and about how I now, at the advanced but not intractable age of 31, wished to return to the artistic aspirations of my youth. She said it would be just fine if I attended her class for the rest of the semester.

I have now endured two of Madame's classes. Madame, a great fat swarthy woman with a moustache and a Gallic accent out of a cartoon, attempts to communicate the poses she wishes her model to adopt by contorting her own bulbous limbs in a mockery of the desired posture, like a sea cow trained to imitate classical statuary. At the first class I attended, we had for a model an overweight woman with grey skin and metal bars through her nipples and black greasy hair on her head and armpits and pubic mound and cigarette burns all over her forearms, whom I found about as sexually enticing as a brimming ashtray. The second class was even worse, and I had little choice but to languish here for two hours, limning in graphite the form of a stout Hispanic man with a grotesquely oversized penis.

I know, by means of elaborate espionage, that my ex-girlfriend Nessa Olsen will be disrobing here today, much to the relief, I'm sure, of the glum crew of hipsters now assembled, who have been so aesthetically underwhelmed for the past two weeks.

I can recall through the haze of two misty years the night that Nessa and I first met. We were introduced at a Comm. Ave. house party. It was one of these gatherings of hirsute artists and coffeehouse philosophers: PhD candidates from BU or Harvard or Tufts were arguing about the intellectual merits of Slavoj Žižek, SMFA students were discussing their thesis exhibitions and discoursing on the theoretical basis of their joyless artwork ("...exploring questions of identity... race, gender, sexuality... marginalization... subverting culturally inundated norms and expectations..."), a stray Berklee dropout was torturing everyone with Ornette Coleman. For some reason all arty girls have straight, mousy hair—but then there was Nessa, her beloved face curtained in coils of finespun gold.

Nessa's curly head crowns a body of average height and majestic proportions. She has lucid Caribbean pools for eyes, whose crystalline profundity robs men of their wits and fills their hearts with Voodoo pins. I swept her away from that pack of impotent potheads and sleazy cogitators, and kept her in my cozy castle for as long as she would stay. A woman with Nessa's charms deserves a man who relishes beauty; such men are rare in the Boston art scene. I was a pearl for her amidst those buffoonish barnacles. I have an exquisite eye for aesthetic splendor, and desire above all else the perfection of sensations. Nessa shall never feel so adored as she did during her time with me. What's more I was a gentle and generous lover, and a handsome man at that: I have very good bone structure and am at least five foot ten. My initials spell out the color of my hair: Randall Everett Dolman. Nessa called me Red.

We dated for two years, but Nessa left me months ago (it must be four now—no, it's five) to court an indigent young academic. She still needs cash as badly as she did when she was mine, thus her current nudie gig. I begged her not to leave and wept for hours like a fool.

Since then I've been utterly unable to exorcize her from my mind. I'm tortured by my recollection of her perfume, of the blond curls spilling over my arms and chest as we slept, of her soft voice ringing against the shower tiles as she sang amidst the gentle rain, of the adorably simple motion by which she'd roll onto her back, raise her knees, and whisk her panties off her hips, up to her feet, and into thin air, before we'd consummate our love.

The thought that some hideous new insect is now violating my precious flower with his horrible proboscis is intolerable. When she slept her rutilant lips opened just so slightly that her soft sweet breaths could escape her tender mouth. But now some awful hyena, some hound possesses her at night and plants his toxic kisses on those lips. She whisks those same magenta panties off to the delight of some other brute and satisfies her tingling cunt against his fucking post, the whore!

Oh woe, that she still occupies my mind so thoroughly. Up to the present moment I scarcely have eyes for other women. At night I please myself with fantasies of the platinum wisps at her nape and the sumptuous aroma of her milky skin. She alone completes my ecstasy, and though her material incarnation has abandoned me, her discarnate imago remains the only trigger that resolves my lust in thirty-second gushes of blissful anesthesia. But then how I weep—how then I discharge wistful trickles of liquescent angst! For then the thought of her ensnared in some mean great ape's hairy arms returns to me anew, and I fall with wailing sadness from my fleeting heaven down to the common hell of jealousy and lust. Must it be so, Vanessa O.?

Images are all I have left of Nessa. One night last year I brought her to an unfortunately rather poorly attended gallery show in which a couple of my works were on display. We, our blood sparkling with Champagne, took a cab home, and when we stumbled into our apartment I grabbed my camera and told her to undress. And lo, she then—her brain fizzing, her arms slung around my shoulders and her ethanol-blessed lips pressed up against my ear—whispered precious words of acquiescence.

I took twelve good photographs, just twelve. I eternally lament that I did not take more. I know each of them by heart:

The first is a perfectly tantalizing prelude to the saga. She laughs, her eyes cast downward at the hand that pulls her left black stocking down around her foot. Her shiny bare knee is bent upward, forming a ninety-degree angle at her hip, thwarting the camera's ribald scheme of stealing glimpses up her short black dress. How cute and shy she was about undressing for the camera!

In the second she faces to the side, and her messy golden coils form a drape that hides the left side of her face. Her left stocking is crumpled on the hallway's hardwood floor, and she is hard at work unpeeling her right thigh.

In the third—a near masterpiece—she stands contrapposto, her weight on her bare right foot. A zoom—and praise be that these are grand ten megapixel portraits and not some tin phone's granular mosaics—ten million glorious points of heavenly light and infinite seduction (and to think what I could have achieved with a proper camera, though otherwise I have no desire to dabble in that fool's craft)—a zoom reveals chipping nail polish and a slight yellow callus on the big toe of her otherwise admirably soft foot, with its elegant white dorsal region and tender pink underbelly. Her arms are raised, revealing just the faintest blue penumbra of underarm stubble, and her hands pull brassy helixes of hair behind her head, uncurtaining her smiling face. For the first time in the series her sapphire eyes meet the iridescent gaze of the camera. A bright cherry hue overtakes her flushing cheeks, perhaps because she is inebriated, but perhaps because—and this is the enormously more titillating possibility—because she is modestly embarrassed at the prospect of being ruthlessly denuded before the machine eye of my lascivious lens.

In the forth image she eyes the camera again but a lumbar rotation twists her hips to the side. She pulls her dress two-thirds of the way up her thigh with a single hooked finger, opens her glossy mouth, and droops her eyelids slightly in the performance of a facial expression that she hopes will signify "take me." This picture is not as good as the third because it lacks the authentic sense of violated modesty. It is too posed, too artificial. Her allure is a performance; it lacks the sublime serendipity of a natural event.

In the fifth shot her body faces the camera squarely. She stands on her naked toes and lifts her dress up all the way to her navel, uncloaking a black cotton triangle adorned with a tiny pink bow. She thrusts her hips forward slightly, emphasizing the scant bulge of fabric that shields her budding tulip from my rapacious view. A zoom discovers the pubic stubble at the edges of her panties, where the elastic ripples the skin of her groin. Her eyes are cast downward, and her lids, bearing a doll's painted lashes, conceal her irises of sea and sky, nearly giving the adorable appearance that she is asleep.

In the sixth image—and we're nearly halfway done, alas—the nudity of my Nessa's thighs has been reclaimed by that jihadist niqab, her dress, but don't despair! Now Nessa's delicate white hands assail the sable cloth at the northern front. The straps of her dress hang loose about her elbows, and the décolletage slips down to reveal not yet her braless breasts but at least the higher mounds of her pectorals, which on Nessa's chest can be perceived, at the border of her underarm, distinctly from her breasts, a feature I have long adored. Her hands grasp tight the hanging cloth, pressing it into her bosom. Her arm adheres firmly to the side of her torso, splaying the fat meat of her delicious deltoid.

The seventh: the upper portion of her dress is now around her waist, above which she is nude, but—and oh what a but!—her hands still cup her breasts, maddeningly withholding her precious nipples from my sight, the coy slut and gentle nymph!

Part Eight: her dress continues to defy gravity at her waist, but her bosom is now liberated. Her hands grasp hair behind her backward-tilted head, and her limpid aqua eyes peer down into the camera's black aperture, her inebriated lids now sinking, and her teeth gently biting her sultry lower lip. Her nipples are inverted, a fascinating anatomical variation. In Nessa's case the inverted inward crease folds out and becomes erect in the standard fashion with the encouragement of a frigid breeze or a well-placed kiss. Her midriff contains too much lipid padding to display the muscles of the abdomen, but not so much that her belly rolls out upon itself. She's a Titian Venus, not a Rubens.

An otherwise perfect ninth photograph is sullied by the trembling hands of an inept photographer. The blur is slight, but the pristine focus of the other pictures is forever lost in this one. Her dress lies in a heap around her ankles and she raises her right leg to step out of it. Entirely exposed save mere square inches of black cotton, she tilts her head down to the side and shyly drapes her face in lavish curls. I put myself inside her head: the exposed sensation of air swishing by my naked chest and back and legs, the predatory glare of the black pearl lens in the hands of my seething lover, the elated frothing Champaign feeling warming up my undraped skin, the exhilarating pride in being the object of such ferocious longing, and the urge to tear my remaining threads clean off and fill my glistening rose with dewy manhood.

Act Ten: exeunt the hallway. Scene ii: the boudoir. A tasseled comforter and Persian patterned pillows adorn the bed, whose gesso-lacquered headboard is the panel for my half-finished painting of Bacchus and his pards. Above the headboard hangs a crucifix and my woefully underappreciated Perseus and Andromeda, which my perfidious former professor called "sentimental" and "derivative."

Nessa's posture is artless; it is as naive and unposed as it is shamelessly pornographic. She lies on her naked back and, in that characteristic way of hers, raises her thighs into the air. Her hands slip her panties over her knees, which are slightly bent. The camera's leer faces directly at her bare bottom. Her airborne legs obstruct the view of her face, but her unbraided gold spills out upon the Persian needlework—a confluence of opulence that would delight a king. The backside of my Nessa's thighs and the inverted heart of her fleshy rear are bisected by a dark sulcus of unspeakable allure. The rift is slightly widened at two points, to accommodate two apertures: the holy rose of life and the dismal cave of sodomites. Picture Courbet's Woman with White Stockings. The bower of bliss opens before me.

Chapter XI: The Birth of Venus: she stands, she is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The perception of the total nude cannot be reduced to the perception of its individual parts. England's mighty poet Herrick versifies upon his Julia's breasts, her lips, her legs, her clothes, her bed, and her tears, but upon Julia the full-bodied woman he is stupidly silent. I could produce paeans upon each pore, each mole, each downy vellus hair of Nessa's precious skin, but to what end? No atom of her body contains more than a base quantity of the loveliness emergent in the whole. My delight in perceiving in a single flash her total bareness is incomparable; it is ineffable (though following Douglas Adam's advice I have endeavored to eff my Nessa ruthlessly). But let us leave such matters to the scientists.

She stands, and—coquettishly, superbly, right knee tilted inward—she grasps her breasts with one forearm, and with the other arm the Venus of Urbino slides her hand into her intercrural pit, disguising from her loving artist's eye the most unstatuable inches of her anatomy. Her hand does not merely rest upon her outer lips of love, oh no!—she clutches her loins lubriciously. Oh that I were a glove upon that hand that I might touch that cunt! Now, with major lips and nipples hidden once again, only burnished marble remains. She is a goddess; she is a queen. Long live the Queen! The golden ringlets form the veil beneath the Mother Mary's crown. But where's her long white robe? It is swept away; the Blessed Virgin is transformed into the postlapsarian Eve, and full of shame she hides her apple from my eye. She is Gérôme's slave girl, she is Marilyn Monroe in the midst of a lingerie-strippingly zephyrous hurricane. I hallucinate a halo of numinous light around my Nessa in this pose; it is the zenith of seduction. No other gesture is so simultaneously revealing and withholding, exposed and concealed, shy and exhibitionistic. Her Neptune eyes and the crystal lens are reunited, and those flushing cheeks, the parted lips, the glimpse of tongue, the pale blue veins, the flesh of her left breast bulging beneath her fingers, the appearance—or do I imagine it?—that with the other hand she has actually inserted one of her fingers—oh, but at this point I usually dissolve.

XII: The same pose, but from behind. She looks over her shoulder sweetly. A night sky of freckles speckles her celestial back.

It was here in our photographic revel that I abandoned the camera and ravished Nessa savagely. If I had kept my composure better I could have captured more photos, which, I perceive in retrospect, would have been far more useful than was my impetuous move. I can never recall with any vividness the act of love itself. It is love's various preludes that produce the most enduring afterimages on my mind's retina. And it is these twelve images in particular, no doubt due to repeated viewings, perhaps a hundred viewings, that bubble up most readily to the surface of my consciousness.

But now is hardly the time to lose myself in reminiscences of past debauches. The class was supposed to begin five minutes ago. Where is Madame? Where is Nessa? It's one of those institutional clocks with two slow black hands and a fast red one. An air vent is humming and the boots of an adult student, an old crone in a long skirt and batty glasses, are tap tap tapping against the tile floor.

I must admit to myself that certain doubts regarding my current scheme continue to persist in me. How, for instance, will my Nessa react when, disrobing at the front of the class, uncovering the ocular feast ("Take, eat; this is my body!"), she suddenly perceives the face of her old man Red beaming back at her? Will she immediately rewrap her tender body in the robe and storm out of the classroom in a red-cheeked huffy fit? Will she dash over to my drawing board, hips swaying, breasts jiggling, and slap me in my wretched face, horrible pervert that I am? Or will she perhaps seize upon an opportunity to torture me with tantalizing gestures: a swelling of her buxom chest as, while tying her hair behind her head, she arches her back and inhales slowly; perhaps a few pre-pose stretches to get herself loosened up: she stands on her tiptoes with arms raised high above her head, then brings her hands down to her toes, flexing at the waist and ornamenting her hanging breasts with goldilocks, displaying the undinal moonward bend of her creamy back and spinal ridge and rump, punctuating the stretches with little grunts and breaths and mmms; or perhaps even—no, she wouldn't dare!—will she drop her robe near the base of my drawing board and bend over deeply to retrieve it, her raised buttocks pointed my way, affording me a glimpse—more than a tantalizing glimpse, an infernal glimpse!—into the very depths of her gluteal cleft (q.v. supra, Figure 10)? Will she tantalize me so?

Or, will she, surprised and a little shocked by my presence, though not altogether repulsed, go on posing professionally, as if she hadn't even noticed me, but will she then, as she sits exposed upon the ottoman, sense the heat of my conflagrant gaze and remember what it feels like to be wanted and adored above the world itself, and realize what a terrible mistake it was to leave me? And then she'll wait behind the curtain for the rest of the class to go and she'll beckon me to follow her into the dressing room, where she'll seize my hands and weep and beg for me to take her back, not realizing that all the while her robe has been slipping off her body, and then I'll tell her yes and yes and yes and I'll lick the salty tears clean off her face and rip with superhuman force the robe clean off her frame, leaving her once again entirely exposed, and then I'll tear my own clothes off in one swift impossible sweep and cast them to the floor or into the fiery chasm from whence they came, and I'll thrust my swollen, aching, teeming, yearning, adamantine manhood straight into her weeping orifice and I'll thrust and thrust and thrust, and send her into paroxysms of joy and highest ecstasy, and then, her arms around my neck, her legs around my waist, her hips now doing the work of shoving her pubis into me and lubriciously enveloping time and time again my solid flesh, I will pick her up and carry her, her hips still thrusting, out of the dressing room and into the empty classroom where I'll lay her down on the towel-draped ottoman and I'll brutalize and pillage her until I feel the rising tide of a tsunami and hear a demon fanfare's howling pitch ringing in my ears and my vision will go white and I'll pulse, pulsate, palpitate, discharging oceanic torrents of paradise, and then the tessellating red-blue-green of my retina will swirl against the bleached throbbing of my sight and I'll bury my face in Nessa's breasts and fly her home to the celestial clouds where I'll love her forever and ever and ever, my sweet seraph! Freude schöner Götterfunken Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken Himmlische dein Heiligtum!

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