tagIllustratedA Woman's Story of Love Ch. 12

A Woman's Story of Love Ch. 12

bymidorigreengrasses©

A woman's story of love, in one hundred episodes

Part 12

Pictures



I'm not sure you can enjoy this. I've tried to reconstruct..

Two months earlier, Mitchell entered a photo competition in Venice, Italy. He'd acted on a whim, with my encouragement but very casually. The return envelope had arrived in the morning. Before going to bed, Mitchell talked for the first time about its contents with Will, his brother and our house guest that weekend. We looked at the print he'd sent and others.

All the pictures were taken in France during our trip there (I guess they especially interested me that evening because of our meeting with French people, Marcel and his friends, during the afternoon).

I think descriptions don't interest you, so I'll keep this short.

My favorite among those he showed us was of a Paris park in August, when everyone leaves the city for vacation. There were no people in the shot, only some green chairs, but what chairs! They seemed to have personalities, not only to exist in the space but to observe, maybe dominate it. I felt I was looking through their eyes at the surrounding trees, gravel paths strewn with fallen leaves.

Mitchell also liked that photo but for the contest had chosen a different one (to demonstrate his independence?) It's more conventional, a view of building facades from across a canal, soft colors close in value. The picture has an air of tranquility, of timelessness. Mitchell said that a luminous blue bar of light formed by a shop awning, "Reminds me of that stuff you see during an ophthalmologist's examination."

Optical illusions projected from the retina, he explained.

I've never been to an ophthalmologist.

That morning's mail had brought the letter, post-marked Italy, in a small yellow envelope. Mitchell showed no reaction but opened it in the corner of the living room neither Will nor I could see from the kitchen. I think he cared more than he let on. The good news, that the photo had been selected for a small exhibition, would of course supercharge Mitchell's enthusiasm for picture-taking.

I would have to get ready to pose. It's been this way since before we married.

Mitchell wears glasses, and I don't. Glasses, not contacts.

"Who wants to feel those things against the eye?" he says.

Mitchell doesn't paint or play guitar like Marcel, but I can't say he is any less of an artist.

Marcel and I barely know each other.

Marcel doesn't wear glasses. He may use contacts.

At the party, he asked to take my picture.

Did Mitchell see us then?

Questions came.

Would they compete?

Would I enjoy that? Sometimes Mitchell seems to think I would.

Would he?

Did Mitchell like me better through the eyes of others?

He had come along to the party reluctantly. What if I'd gone without him?

The movie theater in the evening was a welcome escape.

"I can understand why you wouldn't want to sit through that again," Mitchell said to his brother. We'd invited him to join us, but he'd already seen the film.

"I liked it," I said.

Our return interrupted Will, still in the kitchen at his laptop, where he'd been working when we left but now was probably just web surfing.

And his presence in turn interfered with the privacy Mitchell and I had come to expect in our shared lives.

They got along well but were- you know- brothers.

In the morning, Mitchell had responded to the good surprise about his entry in the Venice photo competition by asking me to wear a yukata, a summer kimono. That type is casual, easy to put on. I did, and he took some shots in a square of sun that reached the living room. Will voiced approval.

"Do you have an obi?" he asked.

I explained that the length of fabric around my waist was one. He'd thought the word referred only to the brocade kind that go with formal kimono.

"It's just a sash, then," Will said.

Mine was a different color from the yukata itself.

Mitchell and I stayed up and talked with Will a while. He spoke about his job. He works at a college and described a meeting with faculty members, his friends, informal session in which they discussed another person not there, a poet who had recent published another book- shared a funny story, Will said, involving a play on words. From the best I could understand, listening, the title of the book was "Newt" (or "Dew"?) and the only copy he had, fresh off the press, had gotten rained on as the author carried it home, and he had said, "Newt's wet."

Will laughed telling us this. He and his friend found the anecdote amusing- or were they slightly making fun of their colleague in his absence, mocking his precious sensibility, his self-regard? Maybe they were a little jealous of the success he'd won outside their enclosed world, the leap in status.

The writer hadn't minded the damage to that copy of his new collection. There were others available now that it was published, in print.

Mitchell said, "That guy you work with who you say writes poems. Is he well-known or something?"

"Yes," Will answered.

"So if I'm interested in poetry he's someone I should know about."

"Yes."

"Then I guess I'm not interested in poetry," Mitchell said with humor but no laughter, like a dry cough, his tone a little rueful as he acknowledged his limitations.

Defending himself, he added, "I prefer novels and articles."

The brothers apparently felt they should hang out a little longer. They hadn't all day. Mitchell and I had been away, first went to the party (on an unexpected invitation) and in the evening saw the movie (as planned).

They talked more about the photo contest, Mitchell's winning entry.

"It's really good," Will said.

Mitchell acknowledged the compliment.

"Is that all?" Will said.

He asked to see the pictures Mitchell had taken of me that morning in my yukata. Mitchell explained those were still in the camera, so they could only look at them in the viewfinder. The idea passed.

The two brothers looked bored, ran out of things to say. Will had his laptop open still on the kitchen counter, and they watched part of a video he'd found. This was just between them. I only glimpsed it, had gone off to prepare coffee in the machine for the morning. It was men's stuff, an adult film, one that might be pretty good- there seemed to be a story, at least. A woman was at a party. Fairly ordinary-looking. Not unattractive but not glamorous or dressed provocatively. She wore ordinary party clothing, a flounced dress made of light material, chiffon or organdy, with a skirt that fluffed around her.

She went with a guy, other guest, also ordinary-looking, black-haired, pale handsome, like a super-hero in civilian clothing, dark suit. Part of the fun was their undressing together, changing from ordinary party-goers to two naked people making love. They did once and would again.

The woman was as enthusiastic as the man at first, but showed surprise when he wanted a second round. That was in a different position. And it became clear he would want a third, a little of everything, that is. She was caught up in something larger than she expected, and there was a hint others would get involved.

Mitchell and I announced we were going to bed.

"So you'll have the whole place to yourself," he said.

Will said he also meant to sleep soon.

"We'll be quiet," I said, and then realized that sounded funny.

If you guessed Mitchell wanted sleep, you're wrong. All he felt tired of was our guest's company. He welcomed mine with an arm around my waist, a proprietary gesture.

"You keep it down too." Mitchell needled his brother.

"I have to promise?" Will gave as good as he got.

"What are you talking about?" I laughed.

"While he's jerking off to porn," Mitchell said.

Men-talk.

His embarrassed me, and I headed to the bedroom before him without looking back.

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Breathing under water

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