A Study of the Lady in Red

Lady in Red

Love and a red rose can’t be hid.-Thomas Holcroft

I saw this painting when browsing the art gallery on board the Carnival Imagination last week. As I gazed at her obscured but beautiful face, my mind started weaving a story. I couldn’t afford to buy the piece. It was an original, and the price was $3,500.00. I don’t think Roger Darling would have liked it if I purchased it with my Sail and Sign card. I just stood there and took in her beauty. I had my little digital camera with me. There was a staffer there but I snuck a shot of the portrait anyway. He turned as the flash went off. I smiled at his young and adorable face. Then I giggled. He smiled back and shook his head at me. Why is it that most men do that, shake their heads at me? Am I really that ridiculous? Yeah, I guess I am.

I turned back to look at her. This beauty. Holding a lily in her hand. I imagined her standing on a beach. Sand in her toes. Smiling but crying inside. I thought that she was probably standing on the outside looking in. Wishing to be a part of something. Better. Bigger. More. I guessed she was wistful. That she was waiting for someone to save her. When all she needed to be was her own savior. Still she waited for more. For him. She was standing in a beautiful place, but felt so ugly. So fake. The hand on the chest. It was her discovering that her skin was gorgeous. With age and experience she had become more lovely. More loved. Even though she felt alone. Look at her curves. Look at that hourglass figure. So perfect. I’ve learned that about myself recently. My curves are perfect. They’re me.

I guess that’s what I thought when I looked at her. That she was me. Standing in a roomful of people but feeling alone. Being happy but weeping inside. Wanting to be more. Do more. Write more. Feel more. I realized as I looked at her. I’m perfect the way I am. I am, me. Beauty, frailty, weeping, smiling, craziness, ridiculousness. I’ve a beauty that no one else has. I have a heart that loves with everything, but I’m selfish too. I am good. Even when standing in a roomful of people and wanting to scream, I am good.

I walked away from the painting, then past the staffer. I turned and flashed him a smile. He smiled back and told me to come back again. And I did. I stood and looked at that painting. That Lady in Red, at least five more times. She was beautiful and I couldn’t get enough of her.

West Virginia in the Summertime

She sits on the porch, sipping lemonade, wishing there was vodka in it. And more ice. She’s taking a break from painting the porch railing. The temperature is what a good writer would call sultry. In reality it’s so fucking hot out! The thermometer is hovering around 95 degrees, the humidity at a steady 87%. But the ground, the ground has been sucked dry due to lack of rain. The grass is no longer grass, but straw. Dry and dead. The only thing that’s thriving are her hanging baskets of flowers. They are hanging from the porch overhang. They’re beautiful, bright, colorful. Every color of the Spectrum, is in those baskets.

She sets down the empty glass, and is already thirsty for more precious, sweet liquid. She picks up her brush, dips it in the paint can. The color is white. Like eggshell. Boring. But what color would you paint a railing? The color of flowers offsets the blah color of the paint. She starts the upward and downward motion of painting. It’s mundane, boring, and yet she is sweating profusely. The sun is making her the color of the pink petals. The color of  the flowers in her gardens scattered around their home.

She smiles, and thinks of him. His dark hair, his dark eyes that she could drown in. The soul patch on his chin. He’s in bed sleeping off the hours that he just worked. Resting so they can spend their evening together. She thinks to herself, why am I not in there with him? Why am I out in this damn heat in the middle of the day? She puts the lid on the paint can and places the brush in a plastic bag so she can use it later that day. Or maybe tomorrow.  She doesn’t even wash the dried paint from her hands.

She enters the house and feels instant relief from the central air conditioner. She’s greeted by her menagerie of dogs and cats. Her furry children. She walks to the bedroom where he sleeps. Stands before their bed, and removes her clothes. She pulls the covers back and lays down next to him. She presses her form to his. He wakes, turns his head, looks into her azure eyes and smiles. A sly smile. A smile that melts her heart and her body. Cools her but warms her instantly. He kisses her nose. Her sweet, little button nose. As he pulls back to look at her beautiful face, he sees a streak of white paint across the bridge of her nose. He smiles, tells her that he loves her, and kisses her nose again.