We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.
– Kahlil Gibran
She had no idea when he would discover her. Had no idea when he was scheduled to arrive. With her head positioned meticulously on the dark velvet embroidered pattern of the pillow, she tried to appear comfortable. All this while not transferring any makeup to the white background. Her head rested in a way that agreed with the fluidity she had allowed her hair to take. A few strands nearing her hairline became divided, curving into her hard cheekbones. She let the pillow hug one side of her face to avoid the red circles people often get when they place their cheeks in their palms; she wanted to appear flushed, but not surprised. Bringing her index finger to her brow, she traced the gathering of tiny hairs making sure she could feel the arch. Lately this was what she loved most about her face. Naturally thick brows reminiscent of a nineteen fifties film star are what she believed drew people to her face. Plucked every morning, striving to maintain the effortlessness she believed them to evoke. Hundreds of black hairs uniting to frame her eyes.
The light didn’t get stuck between the layers of glass in the window, but created a trapezoid in which she slept. Not only warm, the light reflected pigments of color in her skin that were most attractive at this young age. It lightened the dark hair of her forearm without the artifice of bleach. Her right elbow rested itself between her ribs and hips to draw attention to her slender waist. Originally she had laid down on the opposite side, however soon discovered herself to be shrouded in shadows. These shadows didn’t sit upon her cheeks as the light on the other side would, but sunk below her eyes and chin. So she turned her body into the light. She closed her eyes, then opened them practicing an upturning of the corners of her smile as she did this. And a pushing of her lips forward created a flare in her nostrils that gave the impression her face was more square and defined than oval.
She had practiced this many times, but one instance in particular stood out. In a friends room, she had retired to bed, claiming to be just resting. The male, and of course it was a male, watched television from behind a white bed sheet he had hung to separate the room. Individuals who fall asleep to the murmur of a distant television can understand the comfort it gave her to hear this noise but see no image. She lay there, awake for what– marked by the framing of the modern television sitcom– must have been an hour. She heard him move to get up, and closed her eyes with her hands in prayer position under her right cheek. He walked by her, and she could not tell if he stopped to look at her. She heard the door open, and because he was behind her, she opened her eyes. The door closed and she was left alone in his room with the image she had created for him. She didn’t leave, but instead tried to sleep. When this proved unsuccessful, she retreated to establishing and rotating a series of portraits of herself which she could have aptly titled ‘Girl Sleeping; One through Eight’. Eventually he returned and she resumed her reproduction of portrait four. After fumbling around on his desk, he showered in the room next to her. When he was finished, and came into the room, she pretended the light from the bathroom combined with the smell of soap had awoke her. She doesn’t remember him saying anything about how long he had been gone, or how peaceful she had looked.
So she knew now that she had to be discovered in this state. Half an hour had passed since she climbed to the attic and took her place in the center of the room. She only had about another hour in which he could come home to find her there, still immersed in the sunlight. At this point the light would have concentrated itself to her upper body, which would still be an agreeable picture. It was noon when she awoke and took the time to prepare this moment. She changed from the sheer white t-shirt and underwear he had seen her wear to bed to a slightly loose fitting sundress that seemed impractical for her to be wearing on a winter day. In the attic, spread between the light’s reflection of the window pane, her canary dress disputed any claim of snow beginning to pile at the front door. Shoulders collapsed, her pale chest was exposed. It was that exposure, modest due to her small breasts, which presented her to the world with an air of naivety.
Two sparse and timid branches scratched the window by force of the wind. The oak limbs made their shape on her placid face. An Eastern Bluebird settled on the branch, the thin and unclouded blue of it’s tail pointing in the direction of the window. Against the stark white canvas that stretched the entire length of the roof, the bird-while arresting in its beauty- seemed to cheat its surroundings. A forgery of a scene you would expect to see hanging tilted at the bottom of a staircase. Both scenes hand painted, became intangible and romantic. Then with a shatter the canvas broke, and great plates of snow shifted as if buried at the bottom of the sea.
At this moment her eyes opened and captured the image. The bluebird was nowhere to be seen. For it was at this point that the great plate of snow slid, breaking into pieces as it fell. Collections of snow the size of her fingernails fell as one, and the lustrous blue disappeared. This was the image captured. If she had continued looking, she would have found that the bluebird had remained stationary. The white she had seen was not only that of the snow, but of the bloated belly of the bird, unnerved by the shift.
Instead, her attention turned to the now dimly lit room. From above, the shadow of the oak protruded from the corners of her eyes, creating crows-feet. The coming of hours had reinvented her dress into a tawny shade that made her appear sallow. As her eyes adjusted to the dour corners of the attic she removed her head from the pillow. This was not his house. A black smudge lay across the off-white fabric.