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John Longbottom

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Dorothea

In the softness of a September evening when the light begins to fade, she sat with her feet curled beneath her, a book resting open on her lap. If you glanced at her you would swear she was reading with a calm expectant look on her face. Regard her again, longer this time and you would notice her fingers lay still across the book, its pages unturned. Look once again at her eyes, downcast towards the book and half hidden behind the thin veil of their lids and discover that they too did not follow the movement of words. 

Was this the pose of an artist’s model? Was she enticing you to quickly search for pad and charcoal and visually capture her essence in this ephemeral moment? Or was her posture that of a muse inviting the poet to create a classical sonnet of meter and rhyme or cause a musician to compose a concerto for lovers both surreal and sublime? And if you were graced with none of these artistic talents you might merely sit and absorb her presence, grateful for the gift of such an enchanting scene at this magical hour of the day.

Cast your eyes at her again, if indeed you were foolish enough to look away, and you might notice the almost imperceptible rising and falling of her chest as she breathed. The same ripples of breath on which her words would float were she to favor you with her conversation. Her voice, were she to speak, would reflect the aspect of her face; a refined, mellifluous tone, with a light air of humor whose volume required you to listen carefully for fear of missing a single, precious word.

Mindful that she may somehow sense, as all women do, the intensity of your stare, you look away, careful that even the slightest movement of your own eyes might disturb her quiet contemplation. But only for an instant. Helplessly, your eyes are again drawn towards her as if she were willing you, wanting you to consume every tiny detail of her posture and pose. Like a siren, through silence, she has captured your heart, ensnared your imagination, so that you would welcome an eternity spent by her side. Without a sound you gaze at her and your eyes start to blur as your mind plays games with your hopes and your heart, until your desires distort your thoughts into implausible dreams.

A slow movement, a soft rise and turn of the head, gently guides your awareness back to the present. A shy smile makes you blush for all the selfish illusions that swirled in your mind and your face feigns innocence as it avoids her questioning eyes. Her voice then, a bare whisper, a tickle of breath, breaks more than the silence, setting you free.

“Mm, that was nice. Care for some tea?”

August 2021

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