Look At Her, by Nelly Shulman
Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash
The evening did not go well from the very beginning.
Still being awkward at German, he did not realize that the metro station he needed was closed. The old train crept past the platform cluttered with cement sacks. Embarrassed by his language, he did not dare to ask the fatigued evening passengers what was happening on the line. Only having aligned at the crowded transfer station he saw some advertisements on the walls.
Berlin transport authority started to translate all messages into English. Boris understood that he needed to get on a free shuttle bus, transporting passengers between stations.
A fine rain of early spring drizzled outside. A rather large line gathered at the exit of the metro. After two months, he was already familiar with the city.
“Straight, and in front of the square to the right.”
Hoisting a canvas bag over the shoulder, he perched a cap on the top of his balding head. The act could not hide his age.
“No need to hide it,” Boris grunted. “I am going to the life drawing class but I am sure that not only youngsters are expected there.”
He found the announcement of the classes with a live model in a library. Participants paid what they could, which seemed a modest contribution even for a refugee like him.
“Coffee and tea on the studio,” said the announcement. “Come at eight in the evening.”
Gazing at a thrush jumping on a wet lawn, he drank a raw charm of April twilight. The sunset gilded over the house roofs. A yellow tram rumbled along the intersection. The thrush shrilly squealed, fluttering on the garbage can.
The chestnuts lined the street. A couple of days ago a tender green haze wrapped the trees. Passing a crowd of smokers on the pavement, Boris noticed a glimpse of something white in the basement window.
A girl in a gymnastic suit and a tutu put a bare leg on a chair, tying the ribbons of the ballet shoes. A mass of dark curls obscured her face but Boris finished the painting with small freckles and barely noticeable languor under her eyes.
“They are certainly gray,” he decided. “Better even grey-green.”
Having found the correct house, he pressed the studio button.
“The second courtyard,” said a cheerful young voice. “Take an elevator to the seventh floor, we are open.”
The studio was located right under the roof. Boris missed the rustle of pencils, the light debris of eraser, the pristine cleanliness of the sheet. In his canvas bag lay a freshly bought etude album.
“The class is starting soon,” he went through a hollow entrance. “I wonder who the model is?”
He found a high door in the second courtyard, painted in Prussian blue. The thrush was singing somewhere at the top of the roof. Boris pulled a copper handle. At the entrance, several bicycles stuck together in a flock. A children's cart with sheepskin forgotten inside stood nearby.
The elevator buzzed and the door slammed again. Something sweet swept over Boris.
“Wait,” ordered the girl, “I, too, go upstairs.”
He recognized the dark hair, now gathered in the messy bun. Her bare knees were unsuitable for the beginning of April. The suede ribbons wrapped the thin ankles. She remained in the tutu but threw a canvas jacket over the gymslip. A black scarf embroidered with bright patterns hid her throat.
Her eyes, as Boris requested, turned out to be grey-green, but he noticed only a few freckles.
“Few but in the right place, “the specks scattered across rosy cheeks. “It turns out that she is an actress and an artist.”
The girl dragged a bag with the logo of some theater.
“Sorry, “muttered Boris when her thin finger poked into the peeling button.
The girl tilted her head to the side.
“You have an accent, “her dark eyebrows moved. The elevator crawled upward. She also spoke an accented English.
“Russian,” he admitted. “My name is Boris.”
The elevator shaft was built outside the house. Light and shadows changed on her face. Thin lips painted with carmine smiled.
“I am modeling today, “the girl did not let go of his palm. “I am Marta, a refugee from Ukraine.”
He wanted to hit the ‘Stop’ button, but the doors wheezed. The electronic music splashed on the landing, thundering in the studio.
“See you soon, Boris,” Marta dived into the crowd besieging the entrance.
The elevator, barking something in German, pushed him inside, offensively but not painfully. The doors closed and Boris found the bottom floor button. Leaving an empty album on a bench near the entrance, he walked back to the subway.
Nelly Shulman's previous publications can be found at her website at https://nellyshulman.blog/portfolio/
Leave a Reply.
HalfHourToKill.Com is a literary website publishing authors of Flash Fiction and Short Stories in the genres of Fantasy, Horror and Noir. Feel free to submit your Fiction, Poetry and Non-Fiction work to us year round.
Site powered by Weebly. Managed by SiteGround