I came across a short story I wrote in 2009 and thought I’d share. It was second or something in a Library competition.
The story is inspired by this picture, The Lady of Shallot, J.W. Waterhouse, 1888:
You do not see him the way I do. You do not know how deeply noble he is. You cannot see into his soul, not in the way I do. You do not know him, not in the way I can.
We sit, comfortable and at ease. My eyes cautiously caress the crisp white collar that peeps over his well-cut suit, drawing me to his clean exposed neck. I imagine my fingers smoothing his full beard and cigar-thick moustache, my fingernails stroking the line of his strong jaw as I am drawn to his compelling eyes. I secretly devour the creases between those dark, focused eyes. There, I see a scabby raw edge, and a softness, that manifests a true path to his rent soul.
Watching him watch me, I can tell he is obsessed with every minute detail. And yet, he is calm with the passing of time. Occasionally, his head tilts as he contemplates me. Always, he gazes at me and absorbs my aura. Rarely, he meets my eyes. I am terrified of the moment he will recognise my burning desire. Sadly, he sees only what he needs to see.
I believe he is one of a kind. He is the kind of man who is dignified and devout. He is kind and private and quiet. He is loved, adored.
He is the man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life.
I watch him and I want him. I cannot have him. He is unattainable. I am not worthy of this timeless man.
I watch his delicate wife as she lightly steps through the garden where we sit. I am not deceived. I draw the same level of attention from him as the surrounding shrubbery. He rarely acknowledges her presence, though I am acutely aware of the way his breathing changes whenever she draws near to him. His breathing is normal for the duration of my presence.
Honestly, I am humbled to be invited into their lives. I do not deserve this attention. I flatter myself. It is not I who receives attention from him. It is my face, my figure, my genre. I am the facilitator of his need.
Lately, I have seen too much of them and it breaks my heart. The sitting has taken longer than usual.
When the sitting first began, his smile made my heart skip a beat. Please understand that it was a smile between them. Not for me. It had a glow, a glow of anticipation. Each smile was worth the sharp pain I felt.
There are dark, crushing moments in life that no person deserves. I was there, the day his glow died. The day their child died.
Nino, I say to myself, the world may believe you paint a poignant Lady of Shallot. I know the truth. I know my heart. You paint my aching heart. I ache for you. I ache for your wife. I ache for your lost family.