You have been sitting on a park bench since 9 o clock. The warm dewy June air has transformed the bench into a personal sauna. You sit, looking for everything and nothing at all. From the bench you feel the city welcome the slight cool of night as dusk approaches. The sky has lost its cheer and now the sun sets. A cool dark orange against a gray blue sky. You watch as night crawlers fill the streets and walkways. Through all the life that passes by, something is missing. Across from the bench is a gallery. The a small sign out front informs you that it is opening night and the entry fee is 12 dollars. Followed by a list of artist. Julie Mark, C.J Evers, Joseph Good. You look to the vast rectangular window that contains the gallery. Through the glass you watch the 30 or so people inside, like birds in a zoo. Some of them are the artist, others friends of artists. Among the crowd there are critics, then those who were only invited with the hopes that they would buy a piece. The noise and chatter seeps through the windowpane spilling into the streets, even though it’s faint and dulled by the honks of horns and conversations of pedestrians, you could describe the scene even if you couldn’t see it.
Each bird is different, and even though they are mature adults with some greater knowledge of the world, they cannot escape elementary division. The invisible line that divides the artists, the critics, and the buyers bends and stretches as they intermix within the confined space of the gallery. Regardless, there are cheers and champagne smiles, inappropriate jokes and inappropriate gestures. The night goes on. As you are about to get up to leave, a lady catches your eye. Full of champagne she half waltzes half stumbles over to the paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Her hair is in a messy french twist. She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear as she pauses at a sculpture. A waiter comes to refresh her drink. Her short gold heels seemingly glide across the tiled floor as she moves on. Piece by piece. She almost remains uninspired when she comes to the near last piece. It’s at the end of the gallery where the wall wraps around and meets the glass window. She tilts her head and purses her lips gazing into the canvas. She’s moving further and further away even though she’s standing completely still. The outlined green triangle below the top edge is difficult to read. A red circle near the center seems to bounce on the canvas. The yellow square aligned with the triangle is half shaded. The shapes take up three quarters of the canvas at least, but she sees none of this. The only thing she sees is a thick slanted blue line lying gracefully across the bottom of the canvas. She follows the blue line, examining how it starts out thick and narrows at the end. How the lines are straight and angular but not sharp. The color is the perfect shade of blue. It is approaching teal but it’s not even close. The line has a lightness to it. Clutching her glass below her breast, she sighs as she realizes all she has ever wanted. She tips back, dizzied from her thoughts and continues to look at the painting hoping that the canvas has more than a face and will extend it’s arms and pull her in, but it doesn’t. It hangs still on the gallery wall half mocking her, half empathizing. The muscles in her face tighten, clenching her glass she realizes she will never be that blue line, because she’s spent her life trying to be something else. All this time she had been fighting. Fighting to be good, to be successful, for happiness that extends beyond herself and more often than not, was not her own. She like everyone else had had her up and downs, but continually rose to challenges with a fierce resilience. Never a self-described best, but she somehow managed to get everything she wanted. For years she worked tirelessly. Stretching herself to the point of deceptive transparency, and standing here now could not remember when she stopped keeping track of the sacrifices she made, to be. She looked into her glass watching the bubbles rise, burst, and fall. She cries, but there are no tears and even though she is well into her fourth glass, coldness breaks over her. Luxury- a blessing, a curse, or absurd? The lady who never takes no for an answer had settled. She bites the inside of her lip almost breaking the skin as the blue line begins to recede into the distance. She takes a sip of champagne to wash away the taste of iron she has lurking in her mouth.
She feels dizzy, probably from all the drinks she’s had. A man walks over. To everyone else he is her husband but to her he’s the guy who charges flowers that she never receives. He tells her she’s had enough champagne and that they should leave. She doesn’t want to, but doesn’t argue because even though it is the middle of June, tomorrow is Monday and she still hasn’t packed the kids lunches for camp, or looked over her weekly calendar which is sure to be full with business lunches and soccer games. She looks at the painting and he follows her gaze. His voice breaks through the quiet bubble she’s put herself in. “You’ve been looking at this piece for over an hour.” She looks at him. Not even bothering to entertain him with her very convincing fake smile, then back towards the painting. He realizes the only way he’ll ever get her to even think about moving is if the painting goes with her. He calls the waiter over. He’s to tired and tipsy to haggle and caves at the price listed. They arrange a drop off date. It won’t be delivered to their apartment downtown until the show has closed, but they are lucky to have snatched it up. “Can we go now?”, he demands handing her, her bag as a waiter comes and takes her empty glass. She kisses all the birds goodbye with her sticky champagne lips and waves goodbye through the rectangular glass front. She and her husband dip into the car waiting outside. It’s nearing two and the city is taking a little rest. The remaining artist, critics, and buyers linger on until closing. The clerks and waiters clean up the mess, bring in the sign, shut off the lights, and lock up the gallery. You get up and make your way home. When you get home you brush your teeth and wash your face. When in bed, you stare out the window until you are tired. Your desk is over ridden with paints, brushes, sketches, and canvas. There is some left over paint in jar. It is the perfect shade of blue, approaching teal but not even close.