EverWriterCon prompt pic.jpegy day, I see him.

He sets his easel up with the others. They line the curved street like portable windows. Squared glimpses into the mind and soul, portrayed in oil or acrylic. Pastel visions of faraway dreams; black and white interpretations of a colored world.

How he intrigues me.

It’s nearly lunchtime, and the other painters on the cobbled street have already gone to eat, leaving him alone to capture the midday sun in all its glory. I pass under the Souvre Arch, lilac skirt swishing gently against my legs. This is the only dress I own, but even if I had others, I would have chosen this one. Not because it flatters my figure, although I like to believe it does, but because purple is his favorite color. He uses it more than any of the others, the paint tube not merely crinkled and worn, but flattened all the way to the top.

I know, because I’ve watched him.

Like the other musicians, I practice for hours every day, honing my singular talent. Often, the light from the window draws me as I play, the warmth mingling with the notes like a visible harmony.

This is how I first noticed him, his dark curls damp from the heat and clinging to his neck and face…

Blue eyes the same shade of blue as the summer sky peer up at me.

I take a quick step back, startled to have found him staring. I sip in a few deep breaths, calming my shattered solitude, but then step back to the opening.

A gentle smile curves his mouth.

Heart pounding, I turn and escape to the safety of my bedroom. I am not prepared for the feelings that chase me into the shadows, following all the way to my dreams as I sleep that night. Azure eyes gaze into my soul, accompanied by his shy smile.

The next day I force myself to practice in front of the mirror, watching my fingers, checking my technique. I do not think of the artist at all, or the dark curls of hair tracing his cheekbones.

I wince as I hit a sour note.

I’m fooling no one. Not even my music.

The following day I give in and practice in the sunlight. As the last strains of Arpeggio of the Heavens in D trail away, I lean forward.

He’s not there.

A strange emptiness fills my chest as I lean on the window ledge, stretching outward as I search. His easel is in its normal place, just opposite my window, but no one stands behind it. Has he left? Gone to eat lunch with the other painters? A woman of his own kind? Was I a fool to let him into my dreams?

Movement catches my eye.

A huddled shape sits half hidden in the shadows. How I first missed him, I don’t know, but as his head lifts, the emptiness inside me fills with wonder. His face is wet with tears, yet his brows tip upward and his lips read ecstasy instead of grief. He shakes his head slowly, as if in awe. I do not understand until he stands and turns his easel, scraping the wooden legs along the cobbled stones until his canvas faces my side of the street.

The shape is indistinct—just a smudge of charcoal gray against the brightness of the window—but the shape of the violin is clear to me. I know my instrument better than I know myself. What I have never seen is the way my arms cradle the bridge and hold the bow, extended to create a shape both feminine and powerful. Or the way my head curves inward as I play with abandon, my hair draped along the wood as if the instrument and I have become one.

Tears prick my eyes.

I don’t know how this is possible. I cannot speak his language. I’ve never painted. Not even drawn with a pencil, except for the tight circles and lines of my musical scores. How could he have understood me so well? Looking at his picture in simple black and white, I see how he sees me. I feel what he’s heard. He speaks in images, I in notes, yet against all odds we’ve communicated.

It was at that moment I made my decision.

To do what I’ve never done.

To step into life.

To venture outside my narrow world and into his.

There is no law against my leaving the musician’s borough, yet I’m the only stranger here in the artists’ village. Inside small cafes, fingers smudged with paint hold slender glass stems. A few look up as I pass, then frown or turn away.

I’m not their kind.

As I pass beneath the Souvre Arch, he comes into view. His easel looks larger from this angle. I peek up at my window, seeing how it catches the sun as the light peeks over the rooftops of the village on the other side, and think he’s chosen the perfect spot. An artist among artists.

His hands stop moving first, as if he senses me before his head turns.

But it’s the moment our eyes meet that nearly undoes me, as he peers from beneath impossibly long lashes. If the sun finding my window is perfect art, the blue of his eyes meeting mine is the perfect chord. His mouth moves, but the sounds he makes are indecipherable.No matter.

I stop beside him. He watches as I take my violin from its case, checking the strings before laying the bow.

I play him my heart.

My words are simple. They speak of innocence.



When I’m done, his eyes sparkle. I swallow, mouth dry with fear.

He takes my hand.

His fingers are strong and smooth, where mine are calloused. They twine between my slender digits, playing against my skin, leaving a streak of purple against one knuckle.

And I know…

He understands every word.
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Thank you so much, Leslie! I'm honored! A HUGE shout out to my fellow contest entrants. The stories were all so good! I almost wish they were still out there somewhere so I could go back and comment on them -- there were so many lovely characters and great worlds! I'll do my best to pick an awesome prompt for next week.
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