MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
Oops! by Mark Berkery

Fiction
A Timeless Adoration

Lori Bernard

He took the chisel to her lips. With his thumb, he pressed the subtle part between her mouth and laced his fingers behind her neck to steady his hand.

As he began shaping the bow of her mouth, he could not help but gaze into her eyes. Although she was cool to the touch, he felt a warmth from her as he drew nearer to concentrate on her perfectly shaped features.

Ky stood up from his old wooden stool and set it aside, careful not to touch her as he moved it out of her way. He walked over to the only table in the room and placed the chisel alongside his other carving tools in a metal tray. He then walked towards his leather chair that was covered in paint droplets and brush strokes of various colors and fell back into the seat.

He stared at her. His own, his beauty. The thought of it disturbed him, but he loved her. A small laugh escaped his mouth as he thought about how foolish it was to love a statue. But no other woman he had ever known was as perfect as her.

The room was large and bright. Two walls were made of concrete like the floor, but the other two were panes of large windows that offered a view of mountains only peaked in snow due to the summer season. His art studio was the only room upstairs in the both modern yet traditional log cabin house, and he preferred it this way. He had to have his privacy, especially now.

He had been living in Vail for eight years. He moved from Phoenix where he attended college and majored in art. The graduating art class took their Senior trip to the small Colorado resort town and Ky fell in love with the crisp mountain air.

He moved at once and was immediately accepted into local galleries. With all the spectacular resorts, Ky was also able to promote his work by lending his paintings and sculptures to the hotels for their decadent rooms and foyers. This led to fine earnings and allowed him to experience the luxury of Vail.

But for the past eight months, Ky only had his mind on her. All other work he ignored. He could only bring himself to sketch her, paint her, and sculpt her. Her image from that night burned in his mind continuously, and he found himself captivated by her details. Her eyes, so distinct, had speckles of white scattered across a baby blue. Her mouth, perfectly bowed and colored like a lush peach almost too ripe to eat. Her skin was fair, supple, and delicate.

In his dream, he had woken up next to her. The bedroom was brighter that morning than any other morning, even though the sun was just rising beyond the mountains. When Ky opened his eyes, she was there, sitting on her heels with her knees pressed against his side. She smiled at him and leaned down slowly to kiss him on the mouth, their lips barely meeting that he wasn’t sure if she had actually touched him at all. Her shoulder length, dark blonde hair fell onto his cheeks and he was suddenly overwhelmed by the scent of her. She smelled of oranges and chocolate.

Ky looked around his studio. She was everywhere. Paintings of the way he remembered her from that distant morning. Her eyes and her smile, her graceful movements and beautiful form. His eyes rested on her life-size sculpted figure. It captured her gentleness.

Sighing, he got up and walked up to her. He could not bear the thought of letting her go, but he knew that if he was ever going to move on from his living daydream, he could not keep her. She had only appeared to him that one time, eight months ago.

After her captivating kiss, she had leapt out of the bed and ran for the door, and Ky could not help but to sit up in wonderment. Though perplexed, he blissfully smiled at this endearing woman who had now stopped in the door frame of his bedroom. In one quick instant, she reached for the knob and Ky called out to her as she closed the door.

“Wait!”

Tim, the owner of the biggest gallery in Vail, had stopped by two days ago to see how Ky was doing.

“Just let me see, Ky. No harm in that.” Tim was persistent.

“Fine, but I’m telling you, everything I’ve got is of her, and you won’t be interested.”

With no new artwork in the past several months from his most popular artist, Tim was not getting as much business.

“I can’t get her out of my head for some reason.” Ky opened the door to his loft and Tim pushed through. He looked around at the paintings but then his eyes rested on the sculpture in the middle of the room.

After several moments, Tim finally spoke. “Ky! This is brilliant. Boy, will she sell! A Mona Lisa, a mystery girl. You said you saw her in a dream?” Tim was trying not to laugh.

“I don’t know about this, Tim.” Ky felt sick at the thought of giving her up.

“Ky,” Tim was now serious. “What are you doing? Get on with your life. Let me host a one-man show featuring these works of the mystery dream girl.”

Although dismayed at the fact that she would no longer be in his possession, Ky knew that Tim was right. He needed to move on. He had been stuck in this reverie that led nowhere but back to her. She, in fact, was a dream and nothing more.

He agreed to Tim’s proposal and a couple of weeks later a one-man show was held at the Vail Creek Fine Art Gallery. The paintings of the woman’s face and figure, in the white cotton nightgown that she was wearing in Ky’s dream, were evenly spaced along the navy walls above the white chair rail, each piece illuminated by a suspended picture light. The sculpture of her, carved from stone, was the featured piece in the center of the room. Her nightgown, in a frozen twirled shape, tenderly led up to her slight smile, the look that she had given Ky before she disappeared out the door forever.

As he wandered past the paintings that night, weaving in and out of the tourists, art fanatics, and devoted Ky Douglas collectors, Ky remembered how his bedroom door had closed leaving her completely out of sight. At that exact moment, a loud bang had startled him awake, and he immediately felt disheartened as he realized that his door had been forced shut only by a warm, summer cross wind from an open window. Nonetheless, Ky had instantly jumped out of bed and looked in every room in the house, and after finding no trace of her downstairs, he entered his studio to find only art and no woman.

He was almost angry as he went to his leather chair and slumped down into the cushions. Staring at a blank canvas across the room, he realized that he could remember the details of her face and body explicitly. He jumped up and grabbed a sketch pencil, moving his stool close to the canvas and began drawing her every detail with immense concentration. Ky then took his paints and mixed the exact shades for her eyes and lips, and then brushed her face with color.

The art show was successful. As Ky conversed with potential buyers, he noticed Tim marking several paintings as “sold.” And although his heart dropped, he felt pleased when Tim marked the statue sold as well.

***

The bitter cold was finally dying down and the weather was showing the first signs of spring. New York was truly beautiful in the winter, but Camille was glad that the sun was finally emerging through the thick cloud cover that had been hovering over the city for the past few months.

Camille walked to the window and peered out, watching the people walk by—the tourists, the business men and women, children with their parents, and couples. She smiled at one particular couple, eagerly gazing into the store, and waved them to come inside before flipping the store sign so that the “open” side would show through to the street.

As she walked behind the glass counter, she straightened her white apron and reached for the silver “sample” tray. She bent down and put several squares of her favorite orange fondant filled chocolates onto the tray.

The bell chimed as the couple walked in and browsed the store. Camille mentioned to them that she would be right back and quickly ran through a swing door to the oven in the kitchen. As she opened it, she felt a rush of hot air to her cheeks that swept her hair in a reel around her face. She carefully reached in with oven mittens to pull out aromatic confectionary desserts.

As she walked back out, she noticed the couple whispering closely. She subtly peeked in the mirror behind the counter and fixed her dark golden hair, also noticing that her fair skin was slightly flushed from the heat.

“Did you pose for a painting?” The man said to Camille as the couple walked towards the counter. The woman nodded, as if very interested in what Camille would say, and she took one of the sample chocolates and bit into it.

“What?” Camille laughed at the odd question.

“My wife and I think you look just like a lady in the painting in the window of the Canal Street Art Gallery; you know, the one a couple of blocks that way.” He pointed towards the street leading left out of the store.

The only time Camille went left out of the store was to the café, which was only at the end of the corner.

“Oh.” Though doubtful that a painting could even look similar to her, she became full of curiosity and quietly put the couple’s chocolate selections into a brown and cream striped bag.

Normally, Camille loved being at work, making various chocolates, pies, and cakes in her aunt’s store, Chocolate Flair. But as soon as her aunt walked through the door, Camille ran out to take her lunch break.

She turned left on Canal Street, and after a couple blocks, she saw an antique sign for the gallery hanging over the sidewalk.

As she came upon the window, she was struck with disbelief. It was her! Frozen on the sidewalk, she noted that every detail of her face was exactly the same as it was portrayed in the painting. She walked slowly, closer to the glass, and continued to stare at the mirror-like image.

“Ky Douglas.” She read the name out loud as she bent over to read the author’s small signature in the bottom right of the painting, partially covered by the elaborate silver frame.

Camille then turned, swiftly walking back in the direction of the store, but stopped at the café on the corner. Taking a seat in her usual spot next to the window, she pulled out her cell phone and connected her virtual keyboard.

She typed his name into the search engine.

“Ky Douglas,” she began reading under her breath, “noted for his admired ‘dream girl’ paintings and sculpture. The sculpture, made entirely from stone, is featured in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona at the Phoenix Art Institute. Ky’s inspiration for her was from a dream he had in 2009.”

Camille sighed and her eyes began to well up with tears as she read the dates of his birth and death.

“1979-2043.”

He had died only two years ago. Her heart dropped, and she felt grief and disappointment.

She continued reading. “Douglas never married and on his deathbed, he confessed that he was finally happy to return to his dream.”

Camille clicked on a picture of Ky to enlarge it so that it would fill her cell phone screen. She slowly moved her fingers across his face.

“I remember you,” she said to him. “You were in my dream too. I will see you one day, I promise you that.”

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