She looked beautiful dancing. Anyone would agree. Long golden hair trussed up on her head, dying to become unpinned and sneak down her back.
Not a beauty though. You may be surprised by that and, in fact, I think that some who lusted after her were confused by it. Eyes were drawn to her, despite not quite knowing why.
I couldn’t have her – and that was always the case from the first time I laid eyes on her. A friend of mine noted my lusty gaze and informed me of her betrothal to a wealthier man than me. An old story, you might think, but the joke is that I am very wealthy and could have elevated her far above her station – but he is even wealthier than me.
I do not like to see what I cannot have. Some are content with visiting museums, or seeing the fine art collections of others. Strolling around marble pedestals, having an admiring gawp – perhaps, if it is a fine building or a particularly fine face, having a portrait drawn. But not me. If I cannot have it I would rather it were snuffed out altogether.
Theirs was a long betrothal and that meant that she was more sociable than had she been made a wife straightaway. Her would-be husband was on a Grand Tour – young he was, keen to expand his horizons, but not so young that he would allow himself to miss the opportunity of a lifetime to possess her. So they were betrothed but not married and she danced with anyone who asked while he was away.
Her form was lovely – tall and slender. One could almost imagine the long wings sprouting from her backbone, I quite expected to feel them there under my hand as we danced. She was so fine in shape, heavenly. Bones one could imagine crushing inadvertently with too hard a touch, like a fine china ornament accidentally knocked to dust with one careless sweep of the hand.
He was not worthy of her. An imbecile who would hide her away with the rest of his art collection he’d dragged back from abroad. I would have hated to see it.
So now she stands in my garden, her graceful arm gesturing towards the lake, and moss gathering on her feet. Always there, unchanging, unresting. The too-large nose, the ungainly features that, somehow, became far more than the sum of her parts. Bones may rot at the bottom of a lake. But marble lasts forever.