The JourneyBy Norman Turrell
I shook the rain from my coat at the door and looked around. I hadn't even registered that it was a public art gallery, I just dived in to get shelter from the sudden downpour outside. Quite a nice historic building and I wasn't adverse to a bit of culture, so I decided to see what was on offer; better than the soggy alternative outside. The receptionist typed at her computer terminal and didn't even look up as I approached.
'Hello,' I said to receive some attention. 'Is there a charge?'
'No,' came the curt reply, accompanied by a blank look.
'Oh, okay. I'll just have a wander then.' She returned to her console.
The interaction left me with a stale feeling. I'd just arrived in the city and after a night in a soulless hotel, I could have done with a little friendly interaction. Maybe this trip was not the best way to return to the world. I knew the retreat to my shack in the woods had been running away, but after a while it had become a habitat and lifestyle I'd settled into.
The first area was filled with religious paintings, European Renaissance, depicting miracles and morals. The detail was fascinating and I appreciated the skill and labour involved. I spent some time inspecting them closely. My mind wandered to the big questions of life and meaning. I didn't believe in a god, and knew my view of the world was simple. There was a hole though, a space that needed filling.
A sign with an arrow pointed to the next chamber: 'Local Artists'. The array was quite a mixed bag of styles, some abstract, many watercolours. One work in oils caught my eye because it reminded me of where I lived. 'The Journey' by Julia West. A woman with her back turned, walked along a path into a forest. The trees, dwarfing her on either side, were wonderful greens and browns, but something drew me to look just at the figure. She had on a light white dress and her hair hung down her back, straight and brown. The path stretched off until it was lost in the detail of the ground in the distance. I got the impression she wasn't walking toward a goal, but leaving. Following the trail, she would grow smaller until she became lost too. I wanted to join her, walk beside her and have the brush strokes that made up our bodies merge into one.
'Do you like it?' I turned, a little startled to see a woman beside me looking at the painting too.
'Err... yes.' I cursed my lack of eloquence, but along with the sudden interruption, I was a bit taken aback. She seemed immediately familiar. Her eyes were clear, blue, and locked mine to them as I met her gaze. I felt a force pull on me to break the social rules and touch her. It tugged at me to take her hand in mine. I knew it would be so right. I looked back to the painting to break the madness. It was the same as the feeling I felt for the figure in the white dress. I put myself back together.
'Yes, I do like it. I live in a place very like this, in the mountains to the North.'
'I painted it there, Tarscross Woods, near Anover,' she replied.
'That's less than five miles from me.'
'I have a place up there which I use during the Summer. Actually, I've been up there a lot more lately.' She looked a little sad at the revelation and I felt the urge to hold her again.
'It's a wonderful painting. You're very talented.' All the words describing what I felt struggled to follow, but I pushed them back and stopped at the pleasantries.
'Thank you. Well, I should go. Thank you again.'
She turned and walked away, her long brown hair hanging down the back of her coat. And I let her. I watched her walk away from me, out of the hall, out of view. I turned back to the painting to look at her again. I knew her name and roughly where she lived. £350 seemed to be a very reasonable price for this piece. The next time we look at it together, I decided, I would tell her... everything.
This page was added on 21/04/2012
I enjoyed this more perhaps because I am female and it is romantic. I found it beautiful how it opened up a mans feelings of attraction to this woman he could not tell because it might be inappropriate, it was sensual and I liked the cliff hanger liken to the nescafe adverts sorry to use that as metaphor looking forward to their next encounter. Clever and made me want to read more.
From Julie Lambert