by Margot McDonald
An Italian piano concerto plays in his mind as Antonio sits on a rock — a rather indistinctive rock but a large one, on the beach — his face morose, his heart heavy and bubbling with envy. The concerto is light — calling him; hoping to take him from his stolid state of envy, and from his life on fire.
It was during their morning repas that his wife had told him it was time for her to go, to move with another spirit. The Athenians undoubtedly had a flair for statesmanship and Clarissa was on her journey. He knew he couldn’t keep her as his idol any longer — in a small house by the sea where people never came. He had tested their boundaries when they first came together. They were like two starships travelling to a destiny beyond that of Venus and now some years later, this idyllic beauty was being threatened by some unknown force.
Clarissa, dressed in white for the beginning of a new life, had lead him to the beach. At the beginning of the pier he kissed her — very gently, very delicately. He could not walk with her down the pier to say goodbye for his memories wanted to be of the wonderful times they each had spent there together, fishing, lovemaking, living from sunrise to sunrise.
The rain beats down on the windscreen of a vehicle so violently that there is a misty result — the windscreen wipers whip constantly across the screen like a fencer’s sword. Two men dressed in black cloaks with hoods covering all but their eyes, sit in the front seat, one is driving. They both regard the road ahead and there is no movement from either, no sound. They are sculptures — their black clothing contrasting against white flesh, one with blue eyes and the other green.
Clarissa sits in the centre of the back seat dressed in white tulle looking a little like a frizz-ball, a red spot in the centre of her face. The red spot is that of her loud red lipstick. Surrounding her are comfy brown leather seats, in fact, the entire car interior is brown, the exterior black. The sun, hidden by dense cloud, has cast a filter over the landscape and to the photographic eye the appearance is black and white.
She thinks about the woman she is meeting. Antonio could see nothing funny or worrisome with their lunch. A woman who has actually cast off her male and taken on life dressed in velvets and pearls accompanied by spinal stilettos and sheer stockings that twinkle in the light — to Clarissa she felt the woman to be a child of Zeus, the God of the Skies who made thunder, and was ruler of the world.
Her arms stretch luxuriantly across the soft leather and when they catch a lone ray of sun, she feels herself as a dragonfly with iridescent wings. No longer in tulle, no longer the angel that Antonio had expected her to be. She has flown from the altar, from Antonio’s altar, her iridescent wings about to take her on a journey into the unexplored.
I wander in a top hat and long black coat through the streets of an unknown village. Above me the sky moves anti-clockwise and I feel as though in a time lapse. I walk on the right. On the left are a thousand strange faces; I hear the sound of footsteps only.
In their eyes are the faces of watches. In front are more figures dressed in black — the unknown figures still to explore — above me appears a white horse with wings. I stand and watch. Slowly its face metamorphoses into that of Clarissa’s. I look around, still a heavy stream of pedestrians; the air now with a faint glow of perfume. I continue to walk until I arrive at a gate; its archway covered by lights in the shape of stars — to the left, a buzzer, which I push.
The door opens and on the footpath in front is a rose — a red rose still in bud form. I pick it up and place it in the lapel of my coat, noticing the contrast of colour against the black. Yes, I have lived in black for too long and expected Clarissa to be there with me.
Finally when she was about to die in black, she fled. I walk along the path — stones placed at easy stepping distance. The evening light has changed to darkness with a faint illumination that becomes easier as my eyes adjust. I walk until I realise that I am near calm water — a beach — and above me again appears Clarissa this time she is a sphinx; solid, defined, her head held strongly. I look to her eyes, gentle and smiling. I take the red rose from my lapel and place it on the waters edge below the image above me. I turn and leave — my agony and my ecstasy.
I am Antonio.
© Margot McDonald Feb 2022
Margot McDonald has spent the majority of her life in the fast lane as film producer. She now has time to turn to her other love — writing. Her high suspense thriller, Stepping the Stone is just completed. She is currently putting together a collection of gothic-surreal short stories called Deadly Walks.
Margot is a frequent flyer with Writer’s Journey. She attended our Belongil Beach Writer’s Retreat in Feb 2022.
Jan Cornall runs international workshops and retreats for writers and artists. See our gallery here.