Issue 35, Final Fringe

The Damned Eleven

by Jim Meirose Issue 24 11.29.2010

Three women artists are celebrated in the Manor House Museum.

Mary Beale! calls out a well-dressed man.

What? she says, turning toward the open window, brush in hand, her dress rustling.

Mary Beale, he repeats, coming up to the window. I haven’t seen you in years.

I know, she says, putting down the brush and walking to the window.

What have you been doing with yourself? she asks. The light through the window plays on the highlights of her piled-up hair.

Oh a lot has happened—I’m married now—

My God! Really—

Yes really, he says, holding up a hand—and I have three children.

Who did you end up marrying? Who’s the lucky woman?

Rose Mead. You know. That other artist.

That’s something, says Mary Beale, resting her hands on the smooth green windowsill. I know of Rose Mead, but I’ve never met her—I know of her work—I had heard she married but I didn’t know who to—

Oh she’s wonderful, he says, throwing back his head. And I am so happy.

His hand goes on hers on the windowsill. The warmth of their hands merges. People move smoothly past on the outside.

Well I’m glad, she says.

Thank you, he says. You know, he says in a lower voice, looking around, I almost married that other woman—that other artist—Sybil—

Sybil Andrews! exclaims Mary. She’s well known for her wonderful linocuts, you know.

I—I don’t know anything about that. But I know I’m happy with Rose.

I’m so glad. Well—it is good to see you.

And you too.

She pushes her face forward and he kisses her on the cheek.

Goodbye, he says, lifting his hand from hers.

Goodbye—and keep in touch!

I will, he says, waving, already making his way down the street, turning from her, moving away. She smoothly lowers the window and turns back to her canvas, and sighs. She slowly steps up to the painting, and picks up her brush. Nodding in the empty house, she touches the tip of the brush to her tongue.

It is so beautiful, she thinks, looking at the painting.

It is so beautiful I can’t stand it.

She throws the brush down.

continue: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Jim Meirose

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Jim Meirose’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in many leading literary magazines including Alaska Quarterly Review, South Carolina Review, New Orleans Review, and others. One of his stories which appeared in OASIS was short-listed for the 1997 O Henry Awards. His work has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.