By Christina Rauh Fishburne
Look at her go. See the ghost of sinew in those triceps and biceps as the creamy brown silk slides up to her shoulder in retreat. This gown was always her favorite. The one destined only for significant cocktail parties and evenings of general greatness. Observe her form. The strain of her graceful neck, the fluid rise of her arms like a worshipper of the sun, and the determined fan of her fingers spreading to embrace. The line of her shoulders as she rears back in Olympic elegance bent on a clean kill. Note the placement of her feet, small, dainty, shod in beaded open toe kitten heels of soft sole. She does not stand. She does not pose. She plants.
“Stand over there, by the hedge. I’ll take your photograph.”
“Now take your gloves off.”
“I think you might have blinked. Move to the other side, Love. Away from the sun.”
“Let’s have a smile.”
Ignore the ladies and gentlemen around the room. Waste no time on their intelligent conversation. Tempting as the stories of seaside holidays, Precisionism, and Tyrolean chalets may be, the adventure is behind them. Their sparkling tales of experience are losing their effervescence faster than they can drain their champagne. Their understanding of voyage and indulgence is wrong and misspelled into untranslatable homonyms. It is so very loud in this room.
Look at her there. See how she clears the mantle with one confident and disinterested swipe of her white forearm. The Alpine ibex horns have been painstakingly mounted in a pleasing manner. The partial skull, the curling V. Mahogany was employed. Brass fittings were agonized over. The measurements between the center of the marble mantle and that of the large oak beam directly above were excruciatingly accurate. She tears the horns from the wall. She obliterates the nail, the anchor point. She rips the dead bones from their trophied mausoleum. Watch her profile. See how it solidifies. It grows into itself. It becomes what it has always been: immovable.
“You look lovely today.”
“We really can’t be late.”
“Did you remember to tell the Coles we accept?”
“Put your gloves on.”
The Alpine ibex is not at home in the flat monotonous lands in the same way she is not possessed of a tedious nature. She is born to climb, to tread on treacherous uneven ground, to be always smaller. To stay with her own. To watch from great heights. Her predators are quick, slinking, and sharp. Her predators seek mystery.
Look at her. She does not wear her fox stole. It is on the Lady Slipper chair, the blue and green chair, beside her bed. She did not wear it on purpose. Its face is suddenly sad and fills her with decision. It is no longer a companion. The fox ceases to be a friend. Tonight, she wears the creamy brown silk, the beaded toes, the immovable silhouette.
Watch her now. Take her picture.
“Is that what you’re wearing?”
“If you had listened I wouldn’t have lost my temper.”
“It’s nearly 8:00.”
The female Alpine ibex’s horns are smaller than the male’s and curve more backward in their semicircle. They fend off little. Her hooves, her feet, her smaller mighty jump is her best defense. Not many can follow her up the craggy desperate cliff. The more perilous her path the more protected she becomes.
The fox stole has been a wardrobe staple in the past. It was a gift. Its little razor teeth, its glass sightless eyes, its beautiful russet coat all declared conquest. The hunter was the hunted and now is an article. And is now left behind on the blue and green Lady Slipper chair.
“You must come to the Spanish coast with us.”
“Have you read the new Woolfe?”
“Pass me a cigarette.”
“Stand like that again so I can take your photograph.”
“The gramophone is skipping.”
Look at her turn. The jazz explodes through the cornucopia and fills the room, the terrace beyond the open French doors, all their heads. They smoke, they laugh, they drink, they look for themselves in each other’s expressions. No one is watching her tear the Alpine ibex semicircle horns off the wall. A bit of plaster plinks into a gentleman’s wide and clear champagne glass. He drinks it.
Look at her go. A silken breeze of creamy brown, a flickering sparkle of toe, a pathway cleared by reflex at the approach of large backward curling semicircle horns. The French doors, the white terrace, the coolness of autumn dark and lamplight. The stone steps. The silence of beaded foot. The car waiting below and the sound of a corrected gramophone above.
“Does he know you’re gone?”
“Are you alright?”
“I’ve been so worried.”
“Why do you have those horns?”
Look at her go. Take her picture. You won’t see her again.
Christina Rauh Fishburne is a writer, army wife, and mother of three currently living in England. She has self-published two novels, to the wide acclaim of her immediate family, and is at work on her third. She blogs at smilewhenyousaythat.wordpress.com.