A young man has a day off for the first time in a week, and remembers his passion for art.
|"Ahhh., I see you have found our sculpture. Do you enjoy the workmanship on her? She was found in an Italian village shortly after the end of World War II. The Italians had taken good care of her over the years. Is this your drawing?" A dark headed man with a goatee stood looking over a younger man's shoulder. "You have talent, my friend. I will be in my office, should you need any more information on the history of this piece of art. Please continue..." The man walked down the marble stairs and into the hallway that led to the Administration wing of the Museum.The footsteps echoed down the hallway, and then a large wooden door sounded like it closed. It was quiet again.
Mike had not had much in the way of time off the past year. He had taken the internship in the city with the intent of being closer to the action. He was in communications, but the stipend that they provided was just to cover his housing allowance. The housing market in the city was extremely high, so he had found a roommate situation that was close to the train. He hated ever second of it. His roommate sat at home watching Judge Judy reruns and chain smoking. The house smelled like an ashtray. He bolted from the bedroom, showered and freshly shaved for the train. He had his sketchbook in hand, along with a packed lunch. He couldn't afford the city prices on lunches. A banana, sandwich, and a Chinese fortune cookie from last week's splurge. He had eaten well that night.
He had found the museum open at 7:30. The scheduled hours were actually 10 am, but the art community had a standing invitation to those that practiced art to use the free time in the morning for sketching and studying the artworks. He had been quick to take advantage of it. His sketch was basic at first, like his high school art teacher had instructed. Basic squares for the head, abdomen,and hands. He added the form of the torso as he went into the details. The shading of light and dark was perfect. Light was filtering down from a skylight overhead, leaving a beam of daylight across the head and shoulders and bringing the features of the face into focus. He had also been quick to sneak out his small digital camera, taking a reference photo of the scene for later use back at the apartment. The museum was strict about its no photography policy, but he had worked with a curator in Dallas, and she said most of the time, it was to keep the flash from causing the paintings to fade. He was pretty safe with a marble sculpture, he had thought. It was a Sunday, and most of the patrons today were taking advantage of the museum's free admission on the Sunday. People had started to shuffle into the art museum around 10 am. A baby in a baby stroller was crying and kicking its feet as it threw a tantrum. A female consoling voice sounded hushed as she tried to settle the baby in. The museum had a lot to offer to people of all ages. An elderly woman with a pair of spectacles on a gold chain around her neck walked briskly past his seat on the bench in front of the sculpture. Mike had been working for about an hour after the museum opened when he started to feel eyes probing his face. It wasn't an unfriendly stare, just a familiar one that he had been familiar with from a previous life. He looked up from his sketch, and noticed her. She wasn't very obvious, seated across the common area, near a marble planter filled with green plants. She wasn't dressed to impress, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a baggy pair of jeans, a pair of canvas converse sneakers, and a white purse. It was her purse that interested him. It siad "money" all over it. It was a very expensive purse, probably from one of the designer shops on 5th Avenue. He smiled and returned to his work. He didn't think anything of it, as he continued to work. "Probably one of the kids in the Clothing district colleges, " he thought to himself. His work was coming along by 11 a.m. He was starting to feel the pangs of hunger. He had been lucky to have a former classmate from college in the theater district to feed him from time to time. She was working as a waitress, and going to interviews during the day. She had graduated the year ahead of him, and had come to the city to try to get into the theater productions. Her friends had goine on to the West Coast, trying to make it on a movie set. He had done pretty well as a communications major. He worked the midnight shift his sophomore to Senior years as a college radio station DJ. It was good to have experience in the broadcast fields, his advisor had told him. He loved the visual arts, and thought he would get a job right off the bat with an ad or publication agency It didn't happen. So, the internship was to put more experience on his resume. It it didn't lead to a job, he would have to bite the bullet, take a loan out, and go on to law school He really didn't have the money, and was struggling to pay of fhis loans from college. Lost in his own little world, he didn't notice the feline figure standing behind him, watching his hands and fingers working the sketchboard, the scratching sound of his pencil lead moving across the paper, and giving him the image he as struggling to get.
"Hi, I like your work,' he finally heard her speaking. Turning around, startled, he noticed her. She was the same girl that had stood across from him this morrning. The hooded sweatshirt was pulled back around her shoulders, revealing a perfect face. She was probably a model, now that he saw her face more clearly.
"Hi. Thank-you. I am a little rusty at this. I haven't pulled out the sketchpad in over a month. My name is Mike. I noticed you earlier. Are you an art student?"
Pausing politely, waiting for a response, Mike sat his pencil down on the sketchboard. He pulled out his bottle of water from is bag.
"No, I am a model. I am from Ukraine area, " her English was a little accented, and he realized she was a Russian. Of course. "I love the artists, they are always making pretty images. Do you go to school? I work for a photographer in the model district. He tells me if I am good girl, I can get job as model." Smiling smugly, she continued, " He said I have perfect face for model. You like?"
Without aying a word, Mike turned around, and admired her. She was skinny, and didn't have much feminine curve, but her face was angelic.
"Are you hungry? I just happened to be getting ready to take a break. He looked down at his lunch in his bag, and then realized he might not have enough money for lunch fot them both. He did have a sandwich, maybe she would like half? " I only have a sandwich and a banana, but I am happy to share."
"No, models do not eat sandwiches," she smiled back at him. "I drink water, do yoga, and eat yogurt. I will be back. You stay here." She was gone two seconds later, heading toward the vending machines and cafeteria area. She was probably getting herself a bottle of water.
His pencils were in a zipper bag, and he put his eraser, pencil, and the kleanex with the dark charcoal on it. His fingers were black from smearing the charcoal into the seams of the sculpture's robe. He always got dirty. He had his sketchbook in his bag, along with the art supplies he had brought with him. He was just walking to the bathroom across the common area, when he heard her voice.
"Stop!!! I am coming.' she sounded. She picked up the pace, walking at him with a run-walk gait.
Waiting until she got closer, he said, I have to wash my hands. I got dirty smearing my charcoal. Do you want to sit here?"
"OK. I will wait. "
Mike walked over to the bathrooms. A little boy was learning over the water fountain, spraying water over the edge on the floor.