The Exhibition, by Joyce Bingham
I keep my mind vacant as a new canvas. I want the exhibition to reveal my utmost desire, to tell me how to feel. It may destroy me, disfigure my body, I welcome the danger. The Curator accepts my signed disclaimer, and money transfer with a smile.
Placing my right hand on the wall, I feel the thrum begin. Each finger vibrates, the pull of power is strong. My thumb stings with red, it tingles like the edges of fire. Index fingers feel blue, the chill caressing like waterfalls. Middle fingers prickle with yellow, dappled like a thousand dandelion serrated petals. The blackest of night flows through the ring finger. The smallest finger keeps the proportions of colour together, swarming into an eye watering whiteness.
The paintings are warming up, flexing their muscles under their canvas preparing to be seen in their full glory, the Curator calls, good to go. I place my left hand on the wall, it is the controller, the artist, channelling the colour mixtures thrown at my senses. It keeps the vibrancy in check allowing me to hear, see and feel the works of the masters. I’m pulled into the wall.
Leonardo greets me and sits me in front of La Gioconda. She smiles, revealing her white teeth and dimples. She has a bruise on her neck, a love bite or a pinch. Leonardo warns me with a wave of his fingers to pass this by and instead look into her eyes, linger in their enigmatic grace. She looks at me, into my future, beyond all that she knew. She closes her eyes, the knowledge in her face shines through. My own bruises whisper, longing to share our pain, but my time is up.
Caravaggio appears, his Fortune Teller is looking into the eyes of a young man, his lust seeping from every pore. She smiles in deceit as she removes his ring, the reading of his palm a pretence. Returning his ardour, the rest of his money no longer in his pocket. She turns to me, looks into my soul, she knows her lies, I deny mine. Synapses unlock, paths rewire, I see my deception. Confession bites at me like a scourge of mosquitoes. Caravaggio hastens my departure, he has lies of his own to manage.
Frida Kahlo, nods a welcome, her eyes bright, suspicious, but she nods to her Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. She is her own self-portrait. Thorns pierce her neck. The sharp points twist in my skin, blood dripping, the monkey tightens its hold, digging the truth in further. The black panther bares its teeth, hissing bad luck. Frida looks away, I am not worthy of her time, my suffering is insufficient, my falsehoods spread too far.
The curator bows as my hands are removed from the wall. Two hours have passed in a fleeting moment.
I rest my worn-out hands in deep, gel filled bandages as the pain courses from my ruined fingertips to my arms, my heart, towards my hunger for forgiveness.
I hope it is not too late.
Joyce Bingham is a Scottish writer who enjoys writing short fiction with pieces published by Ellipsis Zine, FlashBack Fiction, VirtualZine, Funny Pearls and Free Flash Fiction. She lives in the North of England where she makes up stories and tells tall tales. @JoyceBingham10
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