The sun-drenched snowy landscape was cloaked in bitter cold and framed against a cloudless cobalt sky. I stood staring out the gallery window at the frozen vapor covered dwellings with a cup of coffee in my hand recalling a remarkable woman who entered my life holding a long stem dark pink rose in her hand…and then vanished. Should I have engaged her more than with a mere desultory conversation of minutia?
Upon finishing the coffee, I started walking to the rear of the gallery when a woman entered carrying a leather shoulder bag.
“Good afternoon!” She said removing her mask. “I noticed you’re not wearing one.”
“I took it off to drink my coffee. I’ve been vaccinated but still…”
“Fortunately, I’ve been vaccinated too. Spacing?”
“May I remove my coat?”
“There’s a coat rack in back.”
She followed me and removed her long wool hooded coat and I hung it on the rack.
“I like your paintings. They’re very suggestive.”
“Life to me is rather suggestive,” I whimsically noted. There was something familiar yet distant in time about her. “In town on business?”
“I suppose you could say that.” She then commented on my oversized surreal oil painting of a large fish jumping out of a small corporate labeled can. “Interesting work.”
“I’m a surrealist.”
“I enjoy perspective.”
“When I’m painting the process can feel unoriginal, more like I’m conveying a sense of hearsay.”
“May I ask…what kind of business?”
She bit her lower lip.
“Don’t be. There is something…”
I nodded with a momentary unfocused thought…then said, “We can sit over there,” and pointed to a coffee table with chairs on either side. “Coffee?”
“No, thanks.” And upon sitting she looked at me and smiled – an enigmatic smile. “I’d like to share with you the reason I’m here.” She then retrieved a book from her bag and handed it to me. “It’s self-published. Please, open it to the bookmarked page.”
I opened it to the page.
“Look at the old photograph taken long before either of us were born.”
The photograph was of an oil painting – a long stem dark pink rose lay on an open book, on a coffee table situated between a man and woman, seated on either side. The title of the painting was Hearsay.