Seeing the Sights
Marriage is a trap women set. Men try to find their way out, but they’re doomed to fail. Witness the defeated old gentleman in a top hat. He’s poised, ready to spring for the new bait; his heels have left the ground, but lo! The fierce grip and gimlet eye of his bonneted missus hold him back. The battleax. The ball and chain who won’t loose her grip on the catch she reeled in 25? 30? 40 years ago and won’t let off the hook, even as he lists toward the new bait, the fresh and wriggling worm, the one spot of colour in our drab Edwardian vista of duns and greys. The young woman with parasol, flashing a glimpse of stocking (shocking)! Her colour, of course, is red. Her draped skirt, her beribboned bodice, the plumy feathers that wave bravely atop her hat. The old gent watches longingly, perhaps, although his downcast eyes suggest a man asleep on his feet. The young woman droops forward like a flower, leaning on her parasol. Was this the age of the monobosom, the fashionable S-bend? Eyebrows raised, mouth slightly curled: a Mona Lisa smile or a grimace of pain? Is she weary of being ogled, or simply pinched by her corset? Her face is inscrutable. Whatever she’s looking for is far away.
But look closer at our doddering husband and his hatchet-faced wife. Aren’t their clothes padded, their hair powdered? Is his stoop-shouldered gait a pose, are the grim lines around her mouth penciled in? When the photo shoot is over, do they dash home, drunk on the joy of earning a week’s pay for an hour’s pose; do they peel off their bulky clothes, laugh at the mockery of age on their faces, revel in each other’s bodies, in their love that won’t be like a picture, because it will never fade?
Kathryn Kulpa is flash fiction editor for Cleaver Magazine. Her stories are published or forthcoming in Atlas and Alice, Milk Candy Review, Smokelong Quarterly, and Wigleaf. Her work has been selected for Best Microfiction 2020.
The Ekphrastic Review
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