A New View

May 25, 2008
By Elizabeth Lynch, Trumbull, CT

Blue and white embroidered slippers beat a hesitant path on the cobblestones that sounded almost like a tune to anyone who cared to listen. Up, up, up, a white sundress flipped and tossed around a pair of pale, smooth knees. Up further still, a tight smile that was by no means perfect forced her cheeks upwards, to the sky. She’d been thinking about bringing her navy cardigan with the teeniest little mother-of-pearl buttons, but she didn’t. That would have been the prudent thing to do, wouldn’t it? Prudent – that was a word that she was fighting tooth and nail to walk away from. Run from, actually. Instead of the light cotton sweater, her cheap, dust-riddled camera and its cracked leather strap hung, swinging, over her arm.

A song pushed its way out of her brain, descending down into her mouth, dancing on her tongue, vibrating against her molars. As the sun rose, glinting on the rolling waves, the song beat so hard that she feared her teeth would shatter, so she opened her mouth, just a crack, so it could sit comfortably on her lips. Though her voice was sweet and clear, it never did make its way to the ears of the four strangers in the street. She knew that to sing out her rapture at experiencing such a sunrise would be futile. Voices cannot be spontaneously recorded for posterity, she knew. No, only her own extraordinary eyes would be able to do so.

She was terribly out of place in white and blue. This was a world of red and orange and green, not the nautical theme of some beach back home. But it didn’t matter, not really, because here she was and it was everything she had suspected. Each flash of brilliant color registered in her brain as sample of the diverse forms that joy can take. Her preconceived notions of beauty had deserted her the minute she had stepped off of the plane. As she learned to navigate her novel surroundings, her internal shutter went crazy attempting to record proof of the splendor of this new world.

She peered down a narrow alley clogged with vendors and ventured down. She wanted go down to the produce market and pick out all the fresh fruits that clashed the most horribly with her outfit, so that she could carry them in her arms back to the nearby dock. She would try one more time to eat a local tomato and enjoy it, though she had started to wonder if it was a lost cost. The visual of the matte, plump produce nestled in the crook of her equally smooth arm would prove far more permanent than the gelatinous texture of the tomato on her tongue.

A quick detour into the library made her realize that she hadn’t read a good story in weeks. She didn’t belong to the library, so she couldn’t take the book out, but that was fine with her. She had no better place to be than the corner armchair of a sun-warmed library, feet dangling over a faded carpet, its pattern indistinguishable from years of literary traffic. Each new book that she opened offered a glimpse of a foreign land or time, left for her to eagerly contemplate.

That night she would wander down the chipped cast-iron stairs outside her hotel and sit at the piano in the bar until she remembered a snatch of some piece she had learned as a ten-year-old. She would be nervous but that would be the point. People would laugh and clap politely and she would be proud, not apologetic. She might be asked to join a table. She might be bought a drink. She might accept. She would never feel homesick because she, her mind and her camera and her curiosity, was her own home.

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