Below is Part 1 of 23 monthly installments for Visitant.
◄◄ Read the prologue / introduction: Meet Agnes Person
This is a city Saint Valentine forgot, thinks Agnes Person, as February rains slam the bus. Her shoes and socks are soaked with slush, but her long hair has stayed dry under a heavy hooded cape. Agnes offers her seat to a woman carrying a cold wet toddler. The child is spitting up pastel candy hearts — pink, lavender, pale yellow. Dirty shoes pulverize True Love, Be Mine, Forever.
Gripping the overhead handle, Agnes assumes urban hip-lock for twenty more blocks of stop, start, jolt. Upturned collars frame gaping eyes, sunken cheeks, set mouths. Agnes knows Leonardo da Vinci saw these faces on the water-stained walls of his studio. Me, me. Choose me, Maestro, each pleaded, longing for completion and the master’s touch.
Instead, Da Vinci painted boneless Mona, a Lisa with waxed forehead, shaved eyebrows, gauze hairnet. Dated Renaissance chic, thinks Agnes, with that gorgeous deep green background, wow, dreamy as Elvis eyes.
She imagines a Mona Makeover as Spring Block Party!! BYO smile, beverage, and pot luck, but one can’t be too careful. Even bagged organic can harbor moth wings or golden molar.
But what’s so toxic about a lash hair, salt tear, or stray freckle? — lost moments of a woman’s life caught in leaves of spinach, shades of green, refined layers. People see the same thing in different ways, and Mona always changes, even in post-card reproductions. No wonder Maestro Nardo never finished her portrait. He didn’t need to. Mona, a work in progress, smiles for the ages.
Agnes ponders a serial smile and misses her stop. Backtracking three long blocks in the dark, she trudges home. Gusty westerlies lift her skirt and soak her underpants. Safe in her tote is the Silver Supper prayer group door prize, an office tankard filled with chocolate foil-wrapped kisses (no lips, no saliva, no tongue).
And much Fellowship, said the deacon.
Agnes decides to keep her mouth fellowship-free of low-end cacao processed with soy lecithin and polyricinoleate in a facility with nut dander and gluten. She gets the message about pride and humble pie, a.k.a., the deacon’s spiritual food pantry. Even that tot on the bus coughed up love advice. But why eat your words?
Agnes leaves the tankard of kisses on a stoop for some other sucker. Good riddance.
► Next Installment | Sock Alert