Her rings glittered under the midday sun as she ran her hands through a mass of silky hair. Her pretty oval face remained hidden beneath the unnecessarily wide yellow umbrella held by her escort to shield her from the heat of the sun. The stiletto heels looked like a natural extension of her legs as she moved across the sidewalk and into the restaurant adjacent my studio.
I couldn’t help but stare until she walked into the arms of her buff uniformed fiance. I grimaced as she gave him the exact smile that lay captured on the canvas lying abandoned underneath the many other paintings I had of her.
Sheila was the most fascinating work I had ever done. She exuded raw feminity and charms untouched. Her fiance had wanted paintings of her to be hung around the wedding hall and she had to come over every day till I was done with the portraits. Who could blame the guy? She was worth showing off.
The studio looked the same as I had left it -plain and empty- despite the numerous shades of colour splashed all around. I missed her already and she had not even been gone for more than ten minutes. I smiled as I remembered the way she almost jumped out of her skin the first time our eyes met. I had meant to keep things strictly professional between us but the moment she looked at me with those beautiful eyes, I knew I couldn’t hold on for long. I berated myself on several occasions for the mere thought of treading on a dangerous path but my heart refused to obey.
During the numerous times she had been in here,the black of the curtains seemed to glisten and the grey had become ethereal. She seemed to carry a life of her own that she had been oblivious to.
I picked up the canvas I had been working on off the floor and rested it against the black curtains. It seemed just like yesterday when she had first walked into my studio, looking empty and unhappy. She had talked little but each time she did, the longing for something had reverberated in her voice. She hadn’t seemed to lack anything. She was engaged to the youngest chief of staff the country had ever seen and her family’s oil company boomed with pride. She had appeared quite a number of times in the papers alongside her parents. I hadn’t been able to fathom the reason for the mechanical smile she always had on her face. I sighed to myself. This wasn’t going to end well.
Going through the papers I had picked up from my mail box, I realised I had once again made the front page with the heading “the playboy strikes again”, The hot model from Paris firmly held on to my arms as she smiled at the camera. She was cute and had a beautiful smile but just like, the rest she had nothing to offer.
The next day, she was draped in an exquisite designer’s skirt that looked like it was tailored just for her. She was without the annoying looking escort this time.
Her pose struck me as someone who tried to shy away from her problems. Her hands placed on her thighs didn’t exude the fearlessness I searched for in her image. She looked too calm, mirroring the outlook of one who accepted all that came her way. I moved to place her hands on the handle of the chair. It looked better that way. I moved too quickly without thinking about it. I shouldn’t have.
I closed my eyes as I felt pleasure run its course through me. She looked so fragile sitting on my couch, staring at me with those enchanting eyes. I willed for the world to end at that moment but it didn’t.
She moved her hands to my face and we stayed that way for a while, our silence speaking volumes that the whole world would be against.
“We shouldn’t do this.” I broke the silence. “You are engaged to that big uniformed guy and trust me, my fame wouldn’t help me get out of that.”
“He isn’t the one I want to be with. Not anymore.” Her eyes pleaded with me.
“He loves you.”
“I’m not happy with him. You know how unhappy I was before…”
“Before what?” I desperately wanted to know how she felt.
“Nick, I have had the most exciting three months of my life since high school, with you. I’m tired of being pushed around by others; of fulfilling the desires of my parents.” She moved closer into me. “I want to pursue my own happiness.”
Her parents had gotten her engaged to her fiance to keep up the family name. She had never refused any of their orders and remained pushed around the way they pleased.
“Please, help me do this.”
I sighed to myself, feeling my walls cave in.
I made the front page of the papers again, this time with Sheila holding on to my arms. It had the heading ” the playboy goes overboard by claiming the fiancee of the head of state” I was worried at first but then, I realised the world isn’t a dictator of who you should be and how things ought to be done. I would go against the world a thousand and one times if it makes me happy.