Selling a Piece - Inge Sorensen
“Monty, we should really toast to something, drinking over the phone doesn’t mean very much unless we have something to celebrate, and Zinfandel isn’t exactly 7UP and cherry juice.” Meadow flopped down on the couch with a glass in her hand and her phone in the other. God knew she didn’t own any real wine glasses, not that she would buy one anyway. Wouldn’t the floral notes of Sonoma taste just as nice in a coffee mug as they would in a bowl glass?
“Yeah, you’re right,” said Monty. “What should we celebrate? . . . I know, how about you finishing your latest painting?”
“It sure did take a hell of a long time, that sounds like a nice toast.”
Meadow eyed her newly completed cityscape from across the couch. She rearranged herself to get a better look at it, and imaged Monty lifting his drink up to his lips.
“To my big restless fictionalized painting of Florence. With its blue-gray blended sky, its huge city billboard of flashing lights, its buildings of burnt sienna, raw umber, and anything skin-toned. To all its buildings both labeled and without labels, the post office, the café, the apartments –“
“Aaah! I miss it already,” purred Monty silkily. “Watching the layers of paint unfold, your hands moving from pallet to paint.”
“Yeah Monty, I really believe you were watching my hands paint, are you sure you weren’t just watching me?” Meadow smirked to herself.
“Maybe, isn’t it more romantic to possess some mystery?”
“I suppose so, especially when you’re an artist. But if you really want to get romantic, you could take to me to see the real Florence.”
Both Meadow and Monty laughed.
“As if our rent would ever have that much in reserve,” Monty joked, and nearly choked on his drink.
“I know right? If not in Italy, while in Monterey.” Meadow smiled to herself. “Sipping coffee and tea, scoping the dome of a Cathedral, walking in museums to see Renaissance and Baroque portraits.”
“Don’t forget, the two of us together at the shoreline while I nuzzle my lips against your neck.” Meadow heard Monty lick his teeth.
“I’m sure the Vatican would love you Monty.”
“The Vatican isn’t in Florence.”
“I know, who says we’d only do it in Florence?”
The smile Meadow knew Monty had on became a full-grown laugh.
“That’ll be the day!” laughed Monty, and he toasted his wine glass in the air.
“Yeah, tell me about it! If it ever happened, I swear I would –”
Meadow stopped, having heard a knock at her door.
“Oh – hold on Monty, I think that’s Mr. Bower,” said Meadow as she came down from her high. “I found his wallet at the movies last week. I better go, I’ll call you back.”
With that, Meadow hung up her phone and got off the couch. She walked towards the front door. Her wine mug still hung from her fingers and her painting still sat in the living room behind her.
“Hello, Mr. Bower?” said Meadow as she opened the door.
“Yes, Meadow, right?” replied a tall man in a well-kept Armani suit. His wavy cocoa hair was freshly cut, and his olive-toned skin seemed untouched by the sun. His hand reached out towards her, “We talked on the phone last night . . .”
“Oh yes! Come on in, your wallet is right on the counter,” said Meadow and she quickly extended her free arm out for his. “I’ll go grab it right now.”
Meadow walked back inside, setting her wine mug on the coffee table as she headed toward the kitchen. Behind her, Mr. Bower followed in slow and decisive steps, probably thinking how lucky he was that a Good Samaritan like her had found his wallet, considering it could have been anybody. His eyes gazed around the room, wandering over the makeup of her quarters.
“Sorry you had to drive all the out here to pick it up, but you could say a lost wallet is a call to arms if there ever was one.” She gave a little laugh and reached for the wallet.
“Yes that-just about covers it all,” said Mr. Bower, his voice grew distant and quiet, trailing off somewhere in the room. “Meadow, where did you get this painting of Italy?”
Meadow turned around to find Mr. Bower gaping at her cityscape of Florence.
“Oh that, I painted it myself, all acrylic, including the dead grass.” She walked over to Mr. Bower and handed him his leather case filled with credit cards. He seemed absolutely engrossed by her art and would not look away. “And it was all from fantasy and inspiration, not based on a photo that’s for sure.”
“Huh, it looks so professional, all the colors and details just stand out. I could have sworn I’ve seen a building just like the post office in your picture.” Mr. Bower’s eyes stayed transfixed.
“Nope, I swear it all came from my head and hands. It took day after day after day to finish, but I really like how the picture turned out. I wish I could go there for real, but you know, to paint the town is more affordable than going to see it.” Meadow gave a little smirk to herself.
“Meadow, I really do love the look and feel of your painting,” replied Mr. Bower. “Would you consider parting with it?”
For a second, Meadow stood bewildered. Her eyes wondered off into space. Had the idea of selling her piece ever crossed her mind before?
“Oh,” replied Meadow. “I never really thought much about selling the picture, I MEAN, sure, I’ve given it some thought and consideration, but I don’t really know what to ask –”
“How does $5000 sound?”
Meadow’s ears caught the meaning of his words before her mouth did. Her throat was stunned into silence. Did he actually just say . . .
Mr. Bower’s watch suddenly went off.
“Oh! I have to run to a meeting, thanks again Meadow. Tell you what, I’ll call about six tomorrow if you’re willing to sell the picture.” Mr. Bower quickly tucked his wallet into his pocket and headed for the front door. “That should give you some time to think about it.”
Meadow was deaf in her astonishment. She didn’t hear Mr. Bower closing the door on his way out. Her daze overshadowed all senses. Did that man really just offer to buy her painting of Florence . . . for five fucking thousand dollars?
Meadow walked over to the couch and plopped herself down. Her strawberry blonde ponytail bopped in the air and nearly slipped out of its tie, but she still failed to notice. Her eyes diverted to the mug sitting on the coffee table in front of her. Then she looked toward her cityscape again, it seemed to be staring back at her from across the room. She took a generous gulp of her drink.
God, with that money, that five thousand dollars just offered to her . . . she could go to Florence instead of only dreaming about it. Monty and her, they could both go to Florence. They could finally see the cafes, share tea and coffee together, walk across the art-filled sidewalks hand-in-hand, gaze up at the dome of the Cathedral, see the paintings of ancient Italy hanging along the walls of the Uffizi, maybe save a little extra for a train ticket to the Vatican . . .
Meadow looked up at her painting.
Then again, it took her several weeks to paint the picture. She really did love it, one of her fantasies projected into art. All the colors, brushstrokes, and details, it was hard work, yet it paid off. Monty would also be upset to know that the piece was gone, no matter how much money someone offered her. The canvas, the paint, the brushes, all of them had come from her own wallet. But she had never seen the real city, and she still wanted to, and she knew Monty did too.
Meadow took a deep breath and swallowed it in her throat.
Maybe it was worth the risk. If Mr. Bower really did love her painting, maybe he’d hang it in a spot where everyone could see it. Maybe he’d even recommend her work for future commissions. Then she would have even more money for travel . . . and more paint to work with.
Meadow walked over to her small window, she looked out towards the street, tugging and twisting the ends of her shirt.
She was going to do it. She was going to sell her beloved acrylic of Florence. She was goanna look forward to a real trip to Italy, and Monty was going to be by her side. They were going to explore a new place beyond all her curiosities, and hopefully her expectations. She was goanna see the city afar from her apartment, and all her brushes and paint-strokes.
Meadow lifted the mug back up to her lips, she envisioned the possible future that lay ahead of her. She gave a weak smile and felt water building up in her eyes, perhaps it was optimism, perhaps it was regret.
Inge Sorensen is a poet and short story writer based in Northern California. Her poetry has been published in Celebrating Poetry West - Spring 2005.