This is a piece I’ve been thinking about lately, so I thought it would serve as a good introduction to me and where my writing is taking me right now. I’ve been doing a lot of my writing lately off line, but I’m looking for an online community to help me grow.
Maggie stood in front of the painting, holding a flute of champagne. A little girl stared back at her, stringy hair clinging to her face, bare shoulders, and protruding clavicle. In muted grays, blues, and purples, the little girl appeared faded. Except those eyes. Maggie couldn’t stop looking at them. They were hazel with flecks of gold, so alive, as though they could see her.
A hand touched the small of her back and she startled, splashing champagne on the floor.
“Do you like it,” a deep voice whispered close to her ear.
Maggie turned to see a tall man with well coifed dark hair, piercing blue eyes, and a strong chin smiling at her. She gasped. Tom Morgan, the artist, was talking to her.
“I love it,” she gushed. “Her eyes, they’re so, so real. Really beautiful. Your work is amazing.”
“Thank you,” he said with a slight upturn of his mouth. “I’m Tom, but I believe you already know that. What’s your name?”
“Maggie, Maggie Downs.”
“Well, Maggie Downs, would you mind if I accompanied you around for a while. I enjoy seeing how other people, especially beautiful women, experience my paintings.”
Maggie blushed and took a sip of champagne.
“I would love it,” she said.
They turned away from the painting. Maggie looked around the gallery. There had been a good turn out tonight. People stood, mostly as couples, looking at the paintings. Waiters wove masterfully between people with trays of champagne glasses and hors d’oeuvres. Clinking glasses and hushed voices were the only noise.
Those eyes stared at her from all over. Every painting in the exhibit was the same girl. All done in the same muted tones with the exception of the eyes, those haunting eyes.
He guided her to a painting where the girl sat with her arms wrapped around her bent knees. Her head rested on her knees, hair spilling down her shins. She stared at Maggie.
Tom watched her taking in the painting. She walked from one side to the other, looking at it from all angles.
“Just amazing. Those eyes, I just can’t get over them. They’re like photographs,” she said.
“I think the eyes are the most telling feature of a person,” he said. “What do her eyes say to you?”
“She looks sad, lonely maybe? And so old. She’s an old soul, I think.”
Tom smiled. “Yes, I think so too. Children often know more of the world than adults give them credit for.”
He led her to another painting. In this one, she stood in silhouette, a gauzy dress hung straight to her knees. Her head was bent down. She glanced sideways, eyes soft and dreamy.
“I’ve been to your other exhibits,” Maggie said. “In fact, I own a couple of your other paintings. I have one of the blue eyed girl and one of the green eyed girl.”
“I know,” he said. “I’ve seen you before. I just haven’t had the nerve to talk to you until tonight.”
She blushed again, playing with the thin gold chain around her neck.
“You always have just one girl,” she said. “Do you know them? Your subjects, I mean.”
“No,” he said. “They’re not real. Just figments of my imagination.”
He led her to another painting. In this one she stood with her arms across her chest, looking straight ahead, eyes slit a little.
“She looks angry with you here,” Maggie said.
“She is. Sometimes they get angry with me. I’m painting and I can tell they’re angry with something I’ve done. I don’t know what it is, but I see their anger,” he said. “You must think it’s strange that my imaginary subjects have emotions.” He looked down at his feet.
“Not at all,” she said quickly. “You must spend hours focusing on them, drawing them, painting them. I can imagine how they would seem real after a while.”
Maggie took a step closer to him. She could smell his soap and feel the warmth of his skin. She looked into his eyes.
Suddenly, glass shattered and people screamed. A black sedan crashed through the plate glass window of the gallery, careening into the middle of the room before coming to a stop.
Tom dashed toward the car. Maggie followed as fast as she could in her black stilettos.
The driver’s door opened and out stepped a little girl.
Tom ran up to her and tried to wrap her in his jacket.
“No!” she screamed. “Someone help me!”
She pushed and punched at Tom, arms flailing.
Maggie ran up and grabbed her arms. The girl fell into her, sobbing, almost knocking Maggie off her feet.
“Hush, hush,” Maggie said, smoothing her dirty hair and holding her close. “Are you okay? What happened?”
The girl pulled back a little and wiped her face with her hands. She looked up and Maggie saw those eyes staring at her.
*This story was originally written as a prompt for The Red Dress Club.