You’re my mirror

Mature readers, please, or at least above 18. Or whatever.


-Just let me think, okay? –he frowned into his cellphone. –I don’t know if I want to do shows all the time. What if I want something else with my life than sitting on airplanes and waiting in airports? Dammit Brian.

He snapped the cellphone shut, immediately regretting his tone. He pressed redial but just then, the photographer guy hissed at him.

-Time, Josh.

He swallowed his anger and regret and threw himself on the sofa, his brain working on how to apologize to Brian. The moment he was done with the photo shoot he would call his manager and friend and settle things.

The next moment everything went black.

-What the crappy hell… –he heard, then objects falling, people cursing, and in general, a minor chaos.

-Someone go to the cellar and check the f*cking fusebox –Max yelled. Max, the best photographer in LA.

-Why don’t you go, Maxie? –Sandra crooned in her most seducing voice. Sandra was everyone’s girlfriend, and she was always happy to oblige. Right now she owed Max something like ten thousand grand, and Josh knew she would find ways to make Max forget the loan.

-Okay, why not –Max replied more quietly, to which Josh chuckled in the dark. –Everyone else, stay put. Or- don’t. Do whatever. We’ll be back in action shortly.

You’ll have a piece of the action sooner than you think, Josh thought and smirked. He turned his attention to the sounds around him, thinking maybe he should call Brain. Now would be the time. Then again, he felt light-headed and wanted to lie low in the dark a little, so that no one sees him. To disappear, for a few minutes. To pull a face so that no one would notice.

He grew tired of his game soon. Restless as he usually was, he got up and with the help of his hands stretched out and his eyes that started to get used to the almost perfect darkness, he took a few steps into the direction of the staircase. He could finally visit Louise. His foot banged into a chair, then, some tripods, and then he upturned a few things, got tangled up in cables, and almost lost his balance. Cursing under his breath he shook the cabels off his foot and went on.

The staircase was dark too… it was like an enchanted palace. Someone stole the lights. He felt his way across the hallway, then up the stairs. He tripped on the last step, thinking he had arrived on top already. He did not see the usual flickering light under her door- of course, she had no lights either. He knocked softly, wondering if she was up so late. Max’s godforsaken idea of a spooky photo shoot meant starting at ten pm, and because of technical difficulties it was already midnight when they were only halfway through the shots.

-Mmm? –he heard from behind the door. Then, shuffling. –Who’s there?

He pondered for a moment.

-The guy from the photo shoots –he replied. She had no idea who he was. She kept walking past the studio whenever they were working there, and one time she smiled at him, so he asked her name. Not from her, of course. From Max, who knew everybody in LA. From the janitors and street beggars to the local delegates and richest businessmen.

There was silence.

-What do you want? It’s late.

-And also, dark. No photos now. I… I became lonely there –Josh said, surprising himself with how easily he could shape sentences that were totally out of character for him.

He heard the door open and a hand reached out for him, feeling for his fingers.

-Come in then –she said, pulling him by the hand. The skin of her palm felt warm and moist. She must have been already in bed.

-I’m… I’m sorry if this is too late, I mean… it is too late –he laughed, embarrassed, after her door closed behind them. –I lost my manners, I…

-Don’t worry, I’m a big girl –she said, walking past him. She smelled of orange. –If I don’t like you here, I can always throw you out.

-Max said you’re a painter…? –Josh trodded after her blindly, hitting his arm in the edge of a table, then his knee in a flowerpot that almost fell, then his head in a lamp.

-I love colours –she said simply. –He probably also told you my name was Louise. Do I get to know your name?

-Josh –he replied, grateful that she seemed to have stopped somewhere. He heard the click of a lighter, and then the soft light of a candle filled the space around him, soon followed by another, and then another. –You have many candles –he remarked.

-Goya said painting at night makes you see the real colours –she said gently, passing her fingers over a canvas that was propped against the wall. –Dark and rich and passionate. The night is my favourite time to paint.

-So you were not… asleep? –he asked, blinking to get used to the light.

-I was, but I was going to get up in about half an hour anyway to start working.

He raised his eyebrow and looked around what seemed to be an art studio, with frames and stands and canvases everywhere, a sculpture, unfinished, and numerous palettes and paint tubes. There was also a large, soft rug thrown aside, with a red a slipper on top of it. The windows were covered with long, heavy curtains of a very deep red. It was the colour of blood in the flickering candlelight that shimmered before the curtains.

-Nice –he said, walking around the canvases. He had no idea what she was painting, but the colours were good.

-Don’t give me that bull –she giggled. –No one has any clue about my stuff. Sometimes I don’t either. But it’s fun while I’m at it.

-And that’s what matters –he smiled, eyeing her decently. She wore a sweet little chemise and shorts to go with it, and her light brown hair was ruffled and messy. She had no make up on, naturally, but the warm light of the room made her look exquisite. Small but beautiful eyes, plump lips and perfect eyebrows and lashes. Thick, dark, curvy, perfect. In fact, she was curvy all the way, ample and extremely feminine.

-Why are you here? –she asked, folding her arms. –I assume it’s not to talk about my art.

He gasped inwardly. Wow she did not waste time. Well, he could sure play along.

-I saw you looking at me a few times –he admitted, swallowing. He just couldn’t stop being a dork. –I… I thought I’d introduce myself.

-At midnight.

-It seemed to be the right time, yes –he nodded, blushing, so he turned aside to pretendedly examine a canvas.

-Why not admit that you miss being with someone? –she asked slowly, in a voice that stopped the air in his lungs.

-Wh… what do you mean? I spend time with a lot of people, I…

-Not with women… not like that –she said, stepping closer. He froze on his feet, scared of her touch that never came. She only walked around him slowly until she stood facing him. Her eyes were a deep green from the very short distance and he stared a little before he averted his glance.

-I… I have a girlfriend –he lied, blushing, aware that his strategy was falling through.

-You don’t –she giggled, placing her hand on his arm and giving it a gently squeeze. –Max knows everything, remember?

She walked past, leaving him with a whiff of orange in his nostrils and a faint desire in his body. She saw through him and he had no reason to lie about it: they were strangers, they would probably never meet again, she was fine with the situation. It seemed. He looked after her as she disappeared behind a bead curtain leading to another room covered in darkness. There was the chance, of course, that he was misreading her gestures and glances…

She came back in a nightgown of pure silk. His eyes swept across her figure which was not exactly hidden behind the lush material: it followed every curve, every hill and crevice and protrusion of her beautiful body. Without having gained full access to it, he already knew it by heart. She walked past him once more, not even giving him a look. Pushing a button on a remote, she dropped the object onto the rug next to the slipper, and stood before one of the paintings.

-Only the Italians were able to master the really faithful depiction of the human body –she said reverently, staring at the canvas. He stepped next to her and looked at the picture but all he saw were splashes of colour. He scratched his chin discreetly, clearing his throat.

-And that is… which part of a human exactly? –he asked, doing his best not to sound like an ignorant fool.

She looked at him sideways with amusement in her eyes.

-This is my “Autumn relish”. You silly.

She turned and walked to the back of her studio, then dragged a table on wheels closer to the centre of the room. The table was covered with a white cloth which she now pulled off slowly to expose a staggering sculpture of a man lying on his back. The torso was twisted a little, his arms were stretched above his head, his face was pained and passionate.

-Wow. You did this? –Josh asked, or rather, gasped.

-It’s a reproduction of a picture I saw –she replied softly. She passed her hands over the marble chest, gently lingering on a tiny, round nipple. –Look at his face –she whispered. –The fingers.

Josh was indeed looking, entranced by the white figure that lay immobile under his eyes. To his surprise, she took his hand and placed it over the marble face. It felt cold and smooth, calm, soothing. Frighteningly cold. He made his hand travel down the sculpted neck, the vein that did not transport any blood, the chest muscles that did not contract under his touch.

-Isn’t he amazing? –she looked at him with a happy smile. –You know, I sometimes talk to him… sometimes… sometimes I kiss him.

Josh watched in shock as she stooped to give the marble man a full kiss on the lips. He saw her lips press on the unmoving mouth, and her tongue touch the parting between the cold lips. Before he could formulate an opinion on what he just saw, Louise straightened up.

-Did I shock you? Good.

She put the cloth back over her immobile lover and slowly wheeled the table back to the corner where she had taken it from.

-Wipe that look off your face, big boy –she giggled, walking back to her splashed canvas. –I’m not a weirdo. I just know that everything I create, or everything anyone has created before, lives, and will forever live.

He contemplated her words, frowning into the orange light of one of the candles.

-That’s an interesting take on what “living” means –he said carefully. He was trying hard not to look terrified or completely confused. He only noticed then that soft music was playing in the background. –Cool. “Slave to love”… you can’t go wrong with that one.

-No, you can’t –she replied, looking at him seriously. She turned to face him completely and stooping down, she picked up a brush. –Do you want to paint?

She seemed to be out of the world he used to know as normal so he decided to stop getting shocked at everything she said.

-I’d really like to try –he said as sincerely as he could.

-Sure. Go ahead and… claim this canvas –she told him, giving him a palette and squeezing some paint on it. –Here. Red, violet, yellow, green, blue, white. Okay, black. Do your magic, Joshua.

-But… this is your painting –he wanted to refuse, feeling strangely content that she called him Joshua.

-Do you see anything coming out of it? Cos I don’t. Maybe a fresh interpretation of autumn will save it from the bin. Just… go ahead and do whatever you want –she waved nonchalantly. –Really. I’ll be back soon.

With that, she left him alone in her studio with her painting in front of him and her brush and paints in his hand. He swallowed, wondering when the others would start looking for him, but if he wanted to be honest, he did not give a damn. He was in too good and bizarre a place to go back just yet.

Without too much thinking, he mixed some colours into a deep orange and dabbed some onto the central whirl of colours on the canvas. Then, he took only red and drew a line that cut everything in two. Not liking what he saw, he smudged it away with the help of some violet and green mixed together. He got immersed in the job very quickly, and as the colours fused together in front of his eyes, a hesitant voice hummed in the background. “To need a woman you´ve got to know how the strong get weak and the rich get poor… Slave to love… Slave to love… You´re running with me, don´t touch the ground, we´re the restless hearted not the chained and bound… The sky is burning a sea of flame though your world is changing I will be the same… Slave to love… Slave to love…”

The colours were blinding him and he felt dizzy but he went on, mixing, dabbing, splashing, wiping off, putting layer after layer of unconscious thoughts upon a canvas of someone else’s words. He felt happy to do it; she had offered, almost as if she was interested in him, in who he really was. He did not know her at all but he had a feeling she would not laugh at what he produced with his non-artistic hands.

-Oh my god… –he heard, and turned to her startled. –This is… wow.

He tore his eyes forcefully away from her full figure and stared at his work for a while.

-It’s colourful –he admitted.

-I absolutely love it –she giggled and clapped her hands together. –I’ll definitely keep it and hang it in my bedroom. It will be the first thing I see when I wake up in the mornings. Thank you –she added with tenderness in her voice, and kissed him lightly on the cheek.

-You’re welcome –he smiled, wondering if she was, after all, making fun of him. –Uhm… yeah. I should be going back…

-No –she turned with her hands on the canvas that she had taken off from the stand. –Don’t. You’re not finished painting.

-I’m not? –he asked curiously, letting his hands down. He still had a brush and the palette in them, and she stepped to him, taking the objects from his hands, leaving his fingers groping for something.

-Here –she gave him another brush, a softer one.

-What do I paint? –he asked with a grin.

She opened her gown by loosening the belt and the silky item fell to the floor with a soft thud. She stood in front of him with eyes suddenly larger and a warm breath traveling from her mouth to his. It had to be her breath because his lungs were not functioning.

-How do you see me? –she asked in a dreamy voice. –Paint me the way you think I am. When you finish, I’ll tell you if you’re right.

-What if I’m wrong? –he posed the first question that popped into his mind.

-Trust your instincts –she said reassuringly, and lifted the palette to his hand once more.

He blinked hard to see if he was dreaming, but it seemed it was all real. She was standing there before him, completely naked, not bashful in the least. The candles flickered around them, casting an orange tan on her skin. He looked into her eyes to see any signs of dementia or anything he should consider dangerous, but she was only smiling, so he started.

Her arms he buried in dark blue and brown, making them lighter towards the hands, like white tips of feathers on wings. Her neck received a veil of gold and brown with streaks of white and yellow. Her chest he painted in red and violet, with a deepening red towards the nipples. He drew the brush slowly around her soft moulds, looking in her eyes in search of emotions- but she showed none. He painted her stomach red and orange and brown, and he drew thick vertical lines down her thighs, in black and white. Stepping behind her, he dabbed white and black and red on her back alternately, with splashes of orange and brown.

He was finished relatively fast and he let out a content sigh, eyeing his work of art. Under the weight of striking colours her supple body seemed even more desirable, but he was suspecting that she was not the kind of woman who would appreciate a one-night stand. He was not sure he wanted any of that any more, either. She was out of the ordinary and peculiar, and merely being with her seemed to satisfy his senses.

She walked to the large mirror that was standing between the two windows, cleverly hidden behind the curtains. She pulled away the curtains and looked at her reflection.

He stood beside her, and a little behind her too, looking at her in the mirror, their eyes connecting vicariously through their doubles from a parallel universe. He felt stupidly anxious and eager to know what she thought, and waited for her response.

When she turned without a word to disappear behind the bead curtain, his heart sank. He was angry at himself, feeling useless and stupid. And then, he wondered at his own silliness. What was he expecting? He did not know her. The whole evening was… beyond strange. He had indulged her enough, he should be going back to his photo shoot.

Nevertheless, he stayed. He wanted to bid farewell to the strange woman he had thought to be someone else.

After a while, he sat down on the rug, then stretched onto it to rest his legs and his back. Placing his hands under his head, he stared at the ceiling and the corner of a painting that fell into his vision. White and gold and blue mingled together like a winter moon and stars on a cool sky. It was fascinating, and as he stared at the colours, he started feeling sleepy.

He awoke with a start, seeing her stand in front of him, dressed again, this time in a torn pair of jeans and a large T-shirt with paint spots all over it. She had washed the paint off herself and she looked lonely.

-I miss being with someone too –she said quietly, standing there with such a forlorn and sad face that his heart leaped. –Don’t go yet.

-I’m not going –he said, making space for her on the rug that he had flattened with his weight.

She stooped and lay next to him, nestling close, very close, like a frightened child. She pushed her face into his arm that he was propping his head with. He used his free hand to stroke her hair slowly. She closed her eyes and bit her lip, grabbing at his shirt, pulling him closer, literally pulling him over herself. He fell on her softness, staring into her open eyes, finding fear and loneliness and want there. His lips moved to hers, sealing them with a long, slow kiss, tentative and soothing, more like a consolation. He was tasting her lips without any demands or rush, as if asking her questions, making sure she had time to give her replies. She kissed him back just as slowly, with a plea for him to be patient and understanding. She tasted of cinnamon and orange; it seemed to run in her veins, the spicy fruit of winter.

Kissing in the warmth of the countless candles felt like opening a well-hidden treasure chest and pulling out precious items one by one. He had never enjoyed kissing anyone as much as he relished pressing his lips against hers. Her mouth moved slowly, tantalizingly under his probing tongue; the sounds of their lips touching, sliding on each other, sticking together, dancing the dance of a to be union shut his awareness to everything else. He only saw, heard, tasted and felt Louise, who moved with the passion of all her created and thought of sculptures and painted figures.

Just like a child unsatisfied with one toy when he knows a hundred others are stored away in a chest, Josh felt incomplete and unhappy. He sucked at her lower lip, smelling her breath in his nose, smelling her and himself, their desires mingled and sliding between their mouths, feeding on each other’s emotions and growing stronger, growing in power, becoming unstoppable. He eased his own weight on top of her, kissing her more demandingly, pushing her down into the rug, making her leave imprints of her body in the soft material. The moans escaping her throat kindled his desire further and he stopped being a gentleman: he grabbed her hair and held her head tight with both hands while he kissed her ferociously.

She did not resist him, only moving enough to make him want her more. Her hands slid under his shirt, stroking his abdomen, playing with his chest hair, sliding around his waist, to his back, and after pulling him closer to herself, sliding into his jeans. She arched her back into the rug, tilting her head, sighing as he placed a lustful kiss on her slender neck. He nibbled at her soft skin, pushing her head to the side with his own to be able to suck at the spot between her neck and her ear.

Distancing himself to prop his torso on a shaking hand, he looked into her eyes. Was she still the stranger, the quaint creature who had hid behind a painted coat, a coat that she had asked from him, another stranger? She looked up into his eyes, searchingly and with so many doubts that his hand reached out involuntarily to stroke her cheek. She grabbed onto his hand, pressing it to her face, closing her eyes under the touch of his fingertips; her lips found his thumb and kissed it, not once, sending shivers up his spine. Breathing heavily, he tore his hand away from her grip and started to assault her parted lips once more, knowing that it was not enough, that he had received a few more treasures, but that he was insatiable.

She tore his shirt off, and he pulled hers. He had seen her completely naked before, but now, lying before him, she seemed softer, more tempting, her breasts tremulous at the slightest touch of his lips on hers, or her shoulders. His hands cupped one of her perfect mounds, sheltering it from the coldness of his own breath that broke out in ragged clouds from his lips. He breathed onto her breast slowly through the ribcage of his fingers, and he smiled as he felt her nipple harden. Only then did he take it between his lips, sucking at it gently until the hard button became a soft little tip of flesh.

A fish thrown upon the beach, denied by her home of waves, desperate to return back- she writhed and trembled in his hands, sighing helplessly, receiving his lips readily onto hers, throwing her legs around his waist, making the two bodies connect through the rough material of their jeans. He felt the pain of his arousal numb his brain, but his lips mercifully worked on their own and he kept kissing her, covering her every bit of skin with moist kisses. He planted his hips lower, kissing her breasts, destroying her last endeavours of retreat or reluctance; he massaged her two mounds of flesh while his tongue slid around her navel, pushing the tip inside the tiny crevice, making her breathing stop short.

He tore the zipper down her jeans, tugging at them until they came off. She wore nothing else underneath, and the fact made him want her even more. He buried his face between her legs before she could breathe again, smelling her in; incredibly enough, she smelled of orange and cinnamon all the way. He smiled before he placed a kiss on her most sensitive spot, causing her to moan. He was planning to stay longer but her fingers grabbed his hair, pulling him up, not leaving him a chance to resist. Her lips engulfed his, her tongue driving him insane while her small hands undid his own jeans and started peeling them off his hips. He finished what she started and he lay naked on top of her a mere few moments later.

There was no turning back, they both thought; trembling with desire they somehow had the strength to stop and search each other’s eyes, kissing, swallowing, hearing the other’s heartbeat, before she grew impatient and pulled him in-

He closed his eyes at the sudden sensation running through his whole body- slow, soft, deep, warm she was, welcoming, seducing, liberating. She felt divine.

He stopped for a moment to enjoy the warmth spreading to his limbs, leaning on her, sinking into her, while she moved both of them, her growing desire the undulating wave that washed the shells of their bodies together.

Moaning, she hugged his waist with her legs, pulling him so close that he was suffocating, but he didn’t mind; he loosened her grip to create a slight distance between them, enough to allow him another delicious plunge into her perfect waters. He pushed himself inside her again and again, each time making an effort to possess her depths more; he took her face between his hands and forced her to stay still, look at him and receive his thrusts without moving.

He felt her body tense under his, her soft warmth tightening around him, causing his thrusts to send long waves of promised ecstasy up his spine. He opened his eyes to distract himself and slow down the flow of delight, but all he saw was her fluttering eyelids and contorted face and all he felt was the cradle of her body enveloping him in a tight, warm embrace, her shaking causing his own body to tremble, then erupt into her depths, a deep groan escaping his throat.

When their shaking finally subsided they realized how cold they were. He pulled the rug from under them so that it covered their exhausted bodies. The drumming in his ears grew more silent and he heard someone yell his name outside… somewhere… far away. He closed his eyes and rested his head on her breasts, loving the fact that her one hand lay entangled in his hair while the other rested on his waist.

The candles flickered in the dawning day, bringing a forced goodbye, they knew. But not yet.

-You were right about the colours –she whispered into his hair. –You painted me well.

He stirred on her body to lift his head slightly and plant a small kiss on her chin. Then, he resumed his pose, exhaling happily.

There is infinite peace behind closed eyelids. Their worlds were falling apart but they stayed in their chosen havens, a little longer, a little longer still.