Short Story Series 1 – Part 3 (SSS1-3)

[…continued from Part 2]

“And while I’ve just had the pleasure of meeting you today, Patrick,” she continued, “I have to say that I have met your soul through your work already and didn’t even know it.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes. Shortly after Adrian bought my sculptures, he invited me to his lodge in Vail to discuss a commissioned work. I was blown away by his amazing house. That was you! I can’t believe it,” she said with open mouth.

“Thanks, well, his interior designer is the truly amazing talent.”

“No,” she interrupted. “The architect of that house knows form and flow. It’s truly alive even when empty. Marvelous!”

She stopped talking. Her mouth left curiously open, not agape, not shut. But, she didn’t know what to say. I felt a transfer of energy from her eyes. I wanted to just stare, but that would have been awkward so I interjected.

“Tell me something what you learned from Mies, one of the 20th century’s greatest modern architects.”

“Oh my,” she sat back and grabbed her martini, taking a tiny sip before continuing. “OK. Naturally, Mies is known for his own work. But, the spirit of his ilk – the likes of and especially Frank Lloyd Wright and Corbusier…yes, Corbusier – that spirit brings life to the industrial look. I mean, it may sound silly, but when I look at a Corbusier, I may say to myself, ‘how will it comb its hair today?’  You can just move one of his chair designs a little askew and it takes on a new personality…as if it has style itself.”

She erupted in a charming laughter then took another sip of that martini. I, too, admit that was funny. And I knew exactly what she meant, although I don’t know how to explain it. Then she continued, “Look, a lot of people find Brutalism cold and sterile, but I don’t see it that way and you could say that Mies helped me to find the warmth. And, frankly, the most important factor with warming Brutalism is lighting design.”

“Oh, I agree. Listen, Lydia, you have me quite disadvantaged. I would like to know about your own artwork. Are you showing anywhere?”

“Not at the moment. For the last year, I’ve only done commissions. I’d be happy to mail you some photographs though.”

“That would be great. I’d love to see them.” I wanted to change the subject to find out more about her personal life. “Where are you visiting from, Lydia?”

“I was guest lecturing at the University of Colorado in Boulder for a friend of mine on the faculty. Now, I am on my way to Paris for a commission, a six-month-long installation integral with a building that is being constructed. I decided to spend a few days with my Aunt before flying from Denver tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow! Wow!” My heart sunk almost like I lost a loved one.

Such emptiness consumed me at that moment. There was no time to really get to know her. Yet, I thought to myself, “I am already in love. But, I don’t believe that love at first sight can be true love. I need to know how and what she thinks. Is she religious? A zealot? Is she political? An activist? What is her ultimate goal in life, personally and professionally? Does she want kids?” So many voices in my head were yammering at that moment and I had to shut them up somehow. The least I could do is get her contact info…

She blurted one step ahead of me, “Can I get your contact information, Patrick? I suppose I won’t see you again before I go. And, I don’t want to lose touch with you.”

“Of course,” I answered trying to cover my desperation.

“I’m sorry about that,” Kathleen’s voice echoed as she returned to the living room with a never-ending ceiling. “Listen. I must make several phone calls to stop our number-one fundraising event from being cancelled. Will you two be OK talking among yourselves for a while?”

We both smiled and said nearly simultaneously, “No problem!”

I didn’t really know what Kathleen did, but she was a social butterfly.

I used the energy of the interruption to shift the conversation. “What motivates you, Lydia? Surely money is not a driving force, but I imagine you do fairly well.”

“I do. I’ve done well at networking despite being a private person. I guess I’m lucky. A commission always seems to arise just before I need the work. Only it’s not really ‘work’ after all. I only choose to be retained if I feel I am being paid to play. Besides, I don’t have many expenses. I don’t have a home and I’m free to travel. But, the force that drives me? I just have to feed my soul. I must be productive…creative. But, I always follow my heart. There’s a cauldron inside me. I have to make something out of the experiences I have or else that cauldron overheats.”

“What will you make out of our encounter this evening,” I asked?

“Something amazing I am sure! I know you are the same, Patrick. I’ve seen the house in Vail you did for Adrian. You gave him the number of rooms he wanted, but I know he gave you freedom and you did something amazing yourself. You…are a skilled alchemist!”

“I am?”

“Sure,” she said as she took my hand and put it in hers filling me with ecstasy. My heart pounded as I melted. “Come,” she said as she stood up. With both hands she pulled me up, taking a few steps back in her bare feet, then leading me to the sliding door of the deck. It must have been unlocked because she opened it quickly with one hand, then with both hands again she took mine and we walked up to the railing. Then she let go and pointed to the stars.

It was already dark when I arrived at Kathleen’s house. Oddly, I didn’t notice the sky on my walk over and that’s saying something. Out there in the mountains, there was no light pollution and the Milky Way was a spectacular site on an average day.

“That is Taurus. You’re a Cancer, aren’t you,” she asked?

“Yes,” I smiled.

“I knew it. I’m a Taurus. It happens that the twelve sculptures I sold to Adrian were depictions of the zodiac.”

“The Pleiades are so distinct this evening,” I said.

Her jaw dropped. She then took my right arm between her left and her body and hugged it, saying “You know your astronomy!

“Well,” I said, “I dabble!”

“So, before I met Adrian, I had something stirring in me, something that had to come out. An artist will tell you that if you’ve got the itch, you have to scratch it. With my heart open to better understanding astrological influences, I felt I needed to explore the sky unlike other artists have previously. “

“What do you mean,” I asked?

“Well, since the first landscapes appeared, lunar or stellar for that matter, artists have painted the phases of the moon, or a constellation of stars, or they may have depicted Taurus as a bull – these are too representative, imitative of nature even if done with a distinguishing style. I felt the need to be more symbolic, personal and powerful, and with the right influence. When an observer looks at my sculpture, she may not necessarily know what she is looking at intellectually; she may find it abstract. However, it is imbued with a magic such that she will ‘feel’ what it is in her heart and soul.”

She paused briefly, taking a deep breath from her building excitement, and then continued, “At a public showing I did an informal research survey shortly after my first work, Pisces, was finished. I asked ten seemingly unrelated questions to the myriads of people who attended. One was, ‘if this sculpture were a month, which month would it be?’ Others were, ‘if this sculpture were an animal, what animal would it be’ and ‘if it were a flower, what flower would it be? The important question was, ‘if this sculpture were a zodiac sign, what sign would it be?”

“And the results,” I asked?

“Several questions had a fixed number of possible answers – twelve months, twelve zodiac signs, 13 playing cards – that’s right I did playing cards…oh…and the 6 chess pieces as well! The other questions had no fixed number of answers leaving the person to be creative. The fact is that the answers had a broad distribution with no strongly favored results except one: the zodiac question. 37 out of 60 people taking the survey selected ‘Pisces’ for that question. Patrick, that is better than 50% of the people.”

“Wow. That’s an amazingly narrow bell curve.”

She was so excited to tell me this; she had grabbed both of my forearms with her hands ever so gently and looked me in the eye as if she had more to reveal. I could not have been more attracted to her than I was at that moment. But, I wanted her to continue.

“That’s nothing short of magical – how did you manage to create such a sculpture? Did you create the rest of the zodiac the same way? And poll viewers of those works? Wait! It’s chilly out here and you are bare foot.”

“I’m fine,” she said assuredly. “As to your questions…”

To be continued…

© 2018 Michael Armenia