A Short-Short: Chartreuse at the Museum

Chartreuse at the Museum

                At the sound, she looked up. She could hardly believe the cacophony of giggles resounding through the open angular taupe space of the Classic Court. The high-pitches layered upon each other until they died away as a result of Mammy grabbing up little Chartreuse before she could really make a go of it.

                They had been looking at a small greenish statue of Aphrodite and her little man Cupid when Chartreuse imagined moss growing and sprawling along the bottom of the case. She followed its path to the other side where, the gold oak leaf head-wreath began to wiggle about making its askew shadows dance. She couldn’t help but laugh and giggle in merriment.

                “What you doin’, makin’ all that racket?!”  Mammy said in a very stern quiet voice. Her eyes, dark and murky, bore into Chartreuse who snapped her mouth shut with a single whimper.

                Mammy held her upper arm as they passed amphorae. Huge jars with painted pictures in terracotta red and black, some bodies graced with white. Chartreuse thought of her pastel paints at home. Her mother lets her paint with her fingers in the afternoons, now that she doesn’t put them in her mouth anymore.

                “Where are all the other colors, Mammy?”

                “Maybe those are the only colors they had to paint wit, Cher.” Mammy’s grip loosened a bit.

                In the center and back of the room was young green boy. He was missing an arm and naked.

                “Why doesn’t he have any clothes on but she does?” She swung her arm toward the robed woman behind them. The momentum breaking Mammy’s grip and propelling Chartreuse deliberately back toward the statue.

                Mammy grasped arm again, muttering incoherently under her breath, then she replied louder, “Well, girl.” She took a mumbled breath. “This plaque at her feet reads that’s what they wore back then. They were in a kinda club, see, and only them woman could wear these particular clothes. They were special, these woman. You know like nuns but different.”

                 “Okay, Mammy.” Chartreuse nodded the warning clear to her when Mammy went from calling her “Cher” to calling her “girl”.

                They turned around together, to view the large square mosaic floor in the very center of the room.  Tiles of off-white, red, blue, they glinted in the spotlight. The border made of colorful braids, the corners with sprays of flowers.

                “I like the flowers, Mammy. And the braids,” she swayed her body, a wide smile on her face. The pink marble ties holding her braids together wiggled.

                “Yes, Cher, they are pretty, aren’t they?” She adjusted her glasses and bent to read the plaque, “says here this was a floor in a palace, where they danced and drank wine to the god,” she moved her glasses again,” Bacchus?”

                “Oh, a palace, like where princesses live?” Chartreuse’s eyes looked far away and her swaying quickened.

                “Sure, darlin’. These little pieces are tiles of limestone, glass, and shell,” Mammy continued.

                Chartreuse imagined a princess dancing on the floor, her dress flowing around her, arms outstretched. Mammy was still mumbling the text out loud. Chartreuse stopped swaying, and became thoughtful. She moved forward inch by inch. She noticed the looming black stone figure on the other side of the tiled floor; beheaded, stepping forward, its hands held broken posts at its waist.

                She stopped moving, the image of the dancing princess vanished. She held on to the hand gripping her arm with her other hand and asked, “Mammy, can we go home now?”

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    This takes up one page! It is a piece that I created in a course at the University of Toledo. Really awesome course. “Writing About Visual Art” in the Toledo Art Museum.  Kinda sink or swim at first but then I came out with plenty of written pieces I’m proud of. I didn’t think that I could do short-short stories, I surprised myself. I enjoy writing science-fiction. It’s the adventure of creation, I guess. So, don’t expect this sorta fiction all the time.

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