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Miss Understood

"I'd like to see your flash." Her voice sounded sure, but slightly too loud in the small space. He looked up lazily.

"We don't do 'flash.' We're a custom shop. If you're looking for that street stuff, you're in the wrong place. If you'd like to see our portfolios, they're here." He cast a derisive eye over her conservative outfit. She was modest, even dowdy.  Her dress was a bit boring, her sweater too envelopping. She wore flat shoes, cute sandals that betrayed a sense of exoticism, but she had no sense of spark about her, no visible magic to speak of.

She could feel he had already dismissed her, but she hefted the metal-bound portfolio from its stand nonetheless. Her hesitant step betrayed her nervousness. Taking a seat by the door, she leafed through the pages, paying attention to line and detail, precision and fill.

One style leaped out at her. The artist had fixed the attention of multiple pieces off the centre of the work, highlighting shadow and void over content. Her focus was steady, she paid no attention when he rose from his chair.

He approached quietly, re-evaluating her mousy appearance. She had taken care with her hair, an intricate braiding pattern securing her wiry curls. Her nails were short and neat, her makeup faint and precise.

He witnessed the moment she came alive. He could see she was in Rafa's work- that section was least paid attention and the pages were stiffer to turn. When he appeared before her, she started. There was something oddly compelling in her brown eyes, something between hunger and fear, the needy gaze of prey. He no longer longed for it, the potential for dominance, the petty power plays. He just wanted to ink flesh, to make a living and go home to his dog and his egg salad and watch Martha Stewart reruns.

That was why he had opened the shop, in the first place - he was no longer inspired by the art, only he recognised the need to parlay a marketable skill. There were always new artists struggling to become distinctive, and Rafa was easy enough to teach. But the light in her eyes was growing more intense, and he felt himself shifting in attitude. He dropped a business card onto the portfolio page and watched it slide unimpeded into her lap. She stared steadily up at him, her courage almost impolite.

"Thursday afternoons, he's here."

Her gaze flickered over his bare left arm, ignored his colourful sleeve on the right. She spoke quietly now. " Not him." She gathered herself and stood, and he saw that she was not, in fact, petite. Nor was she bland or boring. What she was, he found himself thinking, was understated.

She had spoken again, but he had missed it. Clumsily, he asked her to repeat herself, and felt the balance of power shift. "I said, who taught him ?" She met his eyes directly. "Obviously, I don't know the proper terminology. I don't know if you apprentice or what.  But I'd like to work with the person who showed this man how to make the images move."

And just like that, he felt the inspiration. He had had no desire to design for months.  He'd considered a fine arts class, a vacation to Belize, a part-time job at the health food store on the corner. He knew they made almost no money on weight training supplements.  Him, selling!

But she, she saw. She saw ! And he wanted her to see him. His gruff voice reached out feebly; he cringed, cleared his throat. "Co-come on back a moment."

He saw the flicker in her eye and for a moment felt the rush of blood. Resolutely he strode away. He did not turn to see if she followed, but he knew a moment's insecurity as her flat shoes padded on the commercial carpet. He heard her catch her breath when she passed the Escher print, and saw the reproduction of it in skin - his own first error. He had had it framed as a reminder.

He held his breath. He despised receiving compliments for it. It cheapened the obsessive detail of his work and devalued the Escher itself in a way that his accidentally open staircase never could. He had not realised he was testing her until she voiced her concern.

"How long does it take to heal enough to fix?"

"That was twenty-two years ago. There is no fixing it. But I have never made that mistake again."

She smiled, pretty in her compassion. "No, there's always a new one to make, isn't there?"
RascallyRabbit RascallyRabbit 31-35, F 6 Responses Apr 18, 2012

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My sister, who models, has been on countless tattoo magazine covers. Compared to my milky clean flesh...

Have I been the one who's missed the joy of experiencing the entire Tattoo escapade?

This write sells more then heart...it comes from a rich history, that's fueled through passion and desire...Intrique with mystery...a chase with a catch...

Your words weave a Webb imbedded in an entire world, outside of mine...and through this screen you've squeaked open a winow and allowed me to peek in. Like a ten year old school boy, I feel those butterfly thrills just bubble up and burst in anticipate for where your story leads...

it's true of many worlds, Ferric. one of my great joys is nudging my way into a world, even one i don't inhabit. this one, i do.. but yes, i love to tickle open windows.

I'm a lifelong every-eight-weeks blood donor, and I'll probably never have a tattoo. A year is a long time to wait. As an admirer of the art and personal expression of others, it just doesn't pull me in. For that reason, I passed the title and group of this story of yours several times without pausing to read. I've been an idiot. This is fantastic. Your storytelling is marvelous, and your mind is a marvel.

thank you, Wilde... part of me wants to say you should have known. but most of me is just happy you read. i'm liking this story... i may have to play with this kind of storytelling a bit more.

This is amazing. And you really breathe life into your characters. I wish the story were longer... :)

Very nice. I love the way he doesnt catch her, her inner fire at first. I love the way she is calm, and not caring of his prejudgments. I too have had people look at me in just this same way. Being written off before we are given a chance. But we are silly mystical creatures. It's ok cause when the moments right it all comes out. There is depth in this heart and her's was truly capturing. Very nicely written. Thank you for sharing.

yes ! thank you, Alyce. thank you very much.

The pleasure was all mine! You might like this post of mine. :hugs: Yeah I'm pimpin my story on yours. lol. It wouldnt let me post it on you WB. Hope its ok. :) http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Love-The-Sound-Of-The-Ocean/2145462

lol love it. off to read. = )

A complex story ... lots going on between the lines. Nicely done.

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