What illuminates an interior?
|“This painting is called ‘Woman with Children in an Interior,’” Sylvia announces in tones modulated appropriately for a museum but forceful enough to be heard by those standing farthest away on her docent tour. She continues, “It was painted in oil on canvas between 1658 and 1660 by Pieter de Hooch.” She pronounces the name, correctly in English, “de Hoke.”
A man in a grey felt fedora in the ring of guests nearest her bends an erect frame and leans in for a closer look at the painting. The man is slender, thinning sandy hair, and handsome, with startling light blue eyes. His hat is handsome too, but really, thinks Sylvia, he should remove it while indoors.
“Warm orange light floods this room in a comfortable upper-middle-class Dutch home,” says Sylvia, thinking about her dark, cramped apartment and how she skipped breakfast that morning to save money.
“The floor is swept, the items on the high mantle over the fireplace neatly arranged,” says Sylvia, thinking about the pile of dirty dishes in her kitchen sink.
“The baby at the woman’s breast rests on a rich gold blanket,” says Sylvia, thinking about the frayed and thinning comforter thrown across her bed.
“The clothing of the mother and children is well constructed, if not extravagant. In her home, with her children, the mother beams with contentment, despite the lack of personal adornment,” says Sylvia, glancing down at her hand, at her grandmother’s ruby ring, which Sylvia would never be able to pass on to a daughter.
Without warning, the man in the fedora straightens up, smiles at Sylvia, and asks, “Do you enjoy being a docent?”
Startled, Sylvia regards the man for a long moment. “Actually, I do,” she replies. Then, a return smile blooming, she adds, “I’m right here every day.”
(Word count: 300)