–M. C. Escher
A door with a brass handle in a long hallway creaks open; inside is a faded Oriental rug, and a lazy lion who looks up.
It is a room of full of colors, masks moving, a masquerade. Bare breasts elevated to nervous heights above tittering laughter and the memory of music. Through the window, the Atlantic Ocean stretches, and yawns.
But maybe not. Maybe it’s only two children, making believe in a seaside attic. The girl giggling from behind a fan, flirting with the bust of a mannequin. The pert bosom of that Elizabethan maiden is revealed, in fact, as the young girl’s apple cheeks; the gentleman’s brass-handled riding crop, merely her brother’s tousled cowlick.
The lazy lion, in this case, would double as the rug, dusty, and losing its colors. Its head a kind of mask, mouth stretched wide—that fearsome roar, reduced to a yawn.
Then again, it wasn’t necessarily an attic—it looked as if someone had opened a diner in a library. The young girl could just as easily have been a waitress. Maybe she was pouring coffee for a handsome man, eating apple pie. Maybe his face seemed oddly immobile, until he looked up at her and smiled.
Was it the memory of laughter that moved him? Or did the bust of the waitress remind him, maybe, of some Elizabethan maiden in a painting he’d studied in school?
As for her, she looked a bit wistful, so far inland. Who’s to say she didn’t dream of the sea? Who’s to say the man’s childish cowlick didn’t remind her a bit of her brother, a Leo, who’d lately shipped out to the Middle East?
The ceiling fan turns lazily above them, and between them, a great gulf yawns. He’s making believe he’s an artist, while inside her, the ocean roars.