Short Story Series 1 – Part 2 (SSS1-2)

[…continued from Part 1]

With a welcoming arm motion, Lydia indicated where Kathleen was located within the house. Of course, having visited numerous times I knew the house well.

I continued, “Hello, Kathleen. I brought you a gift of olives from my trip to Greece this past summer.”

“How nice – thank you! I’ll open them now. They’ll compliment the hors d’oeuvres perfectly. Martini,” she asked?

“Please.”

“If I may ask, were you in Greece on vacation,” Lydia asked?

“Not really. Though it was quite beautiful and relaxing. I was there to meet a client who wanted to familiarize me intimately with the location where his house would be built – I’m an architect.”

“Fascinating! I studied architecture for several years before committing to a Master’s Program at the Art Institute of Chicago.”

“Is that where you studied architecture,” I inquired?

“No. I studied at the Illinois Institute of Technology under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe just before he died.”

“Oh my God! How fortunate for you! I’m envious of that opportunity,” I said, astonished.

She continued, “I had a thesis in mind ever since I was in high school concerning the benefits to a society that lives with artful intention; that domiciles, office spaces, institutions could all feel like home when art and proper design is used as a catalyst. So, I obtained a BA in Fine Arts primarily as a sculptress, with degrees also in Art History and Sociology first. After a good foundation in architecture, though, I shifted back to Art History for my Master’s.

“My…how old are you,” I blurted? “I’m sorry. That was rude of me. It’s just that…you seem in your early 20s… you’ve done triple duty as an undergrad, and you’ve finished grad work?”

“Yes, well, I’m 27. It’s not rude at all. And thank you for the youthful compliment,” Lydia said and smiled demurely.

“Before you two immerse yourself too deeply in conversation about art and architecture,” Kathleen interjected, “please help yourselves to a plate of hors d’oevres and sit by the fire. I’ll bring your drinks in just a minute.”

Just then the phone rang. “Dammit,” Kathleen whispered, “I forgot to return a call earlier today and now I have to take this. I’ll be right back.”

“I’ll finish the drinks,” Lydia offered. And she swiftly moved behind the bar to take care of two martinis. “Olives,” she looked at me?

“Yes, please. Thank you.”

I was impressed with the comfort Lydia exuded, seemingly having little reserve and no trepidation with a stranger and total comfort as if this was her own home. I may have been misreading her body signals, but she seemed as though she really wanted to talk with me, so much so, that I wondered how much thought Kathleen put into this evening. Was she setting us up? Did she talk me up to Lydia, so to speak? Because the telephone invitation that afternoon was the first time I heard about her niece.

“Patrick, please tell me about your work – is it mostly residential?”

“Mostly. I’ve done a small town library, but the work I’ve been getting for several years is thanks to my older brother, Thomas, who has been a successful general contractor for decades.”

We walked over to the living area by the fireplace. I sat on the couch and she sat on on arm chair directly facing me. She set her martini on the end table, slipped off her shoes and sat with her legs crossed, put her hands together, as if she was going to meditate, and then looked at me most inquisitively.

“How did you meet your Greek client,” she asked.

“Through Thomas. I designed a Greek man’s sprawling lodge in Vail. In Greece, he’s planning to build a home out of which he can host large gatherings, private film showings, concerts, etc. His foyer will be 1000 square feet of gallery space. For once, I am excited about a project, but he hasn’t contracted my services yet.”

“What do you mean by ‘for once’,” she pursued?

“Well, residential work has been less than satisfying. Granted it can be challenging, but…I don’t know how to explain it. In favoring the requests of my clients, often their own imposing visions – which they are certainly entitled to demand – leaves my soul wanting. I suppose it is more that I craft solutions to problems for money rather than create spaces. It is just not fulfilling. This project, however, has the potential to be a work of art.”

Lydia said excitedly, “Oh, I know exactly what you mean. And, you see, this project of yours falls within the scope of making an institutional building feel like home.”

“How do you mean.” I asked?

“Adrian Michaletos,” she said assuredly, as a light bulb clicked on behind her beautiful eyes! Why didn’t I notice them before – her eyes – a dazzling emerald green.

“How do you know my client’s name, Lydia?”

“I believe he’s my client, too.” She laughed. “He purchased twelve sculptures of mine last year. He had them crated and stored awaiting display in his future home in Greece.”

“This has to be more than coincidence,” I muttered.

I forgot about my martini and the ice cubes had nearly melted. As if Lydia were not intriguing in her own right, her rapport with me was deepening the allure and mystery of what kind of soul was at the core of this young woman. I knew nothing about her except for the brief introduction into her academic education. I needed to find out more and sincerely hoped I could spend the rest of the evening talking with her alone. I wondered if Kathleen would get off the phone soon and interrupt this magic that was happening. I also wondered if Lydia, too, felt something between us, a resonance with me.

To be continued…

© 2018 Michael Armenia

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