Lady in a blue Coat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

An old man is lonely after he lost his wife. She was a painter who died because of an incurable illness. Every Friday, the man goes to the local market to buy his fruits and vegetables. One Friday, he unexpectedly meats a lady in a blue coat...

Lady in a blue Coat

by Bruno Roggen

 

Martin is an old man. He is already eighty-nine years old. His eyes plunged into the dark night, surrounded by the solitude of twilight, he slowly smokes his pipe. The darkness swallows the swirls of gray smoke, the hot, red ashes sprinkle the quirky cobblestones. Martin likes to feel the cool autumn breeze hitting his face. To feel the wind on the roughness of his face, to reach his ruffled eyebrows, then to plunge into his neck to blow into his T-shirt. It’s a secondhand shirt, three times too big for him. It’s made from a cheap Chinese fabric, and it is stained by the bitter sweat of the mad summer days.

 

Martin likes to listen, in deep concentration, to the breath of the wind rising, rolling in an uncertain caress over the high corn stems on the fields, tenderly caressing the tops of the linden trees, then plunging into the winding paths to cling to the shacks and slam their shutters.

 

Martin isn’t only listening, He looks into the distance, embraces all he sees with an ancient eye, the invisible thread of the horizon which he guesses will be splashed with stars tonight, pulsating stars like grains of light from another world. His wife is one of them. No doubt she is this fine particle that pulsates a little more than the others, the one that his tired eye can hardly guess. But she is there, looking at him, like the magnetic and inexplicable aura of their first meeting, the one that made their atoms hook.

 

A few times he crosses, in the reflection of a mirror, the gaze of Gilda which sparkles with life in an overwhelming turquoise. She left too soon, carried away by an incurable illness. So, he wanders awkwardly, his heart heavy with past memories to let himself fall into his old rocking chair, lulled by the sweet taste of their past dreams.

 

Out of respect, Martin rarely enters the painting studio of his late wife. In the pocket of his corduroy pants, he carefully keeps the key. Nothing has changed since her departure. Not even the large white sheets spread over the small desk, further covering the small library. Before, the spirit of turpentine passed under the door and stung in his nose. He could hear the old newspapers crumpling, which now merely are columns of letters, moth-eaten by the sunlight that falls through shutters of the large bay window. And on the window sill, in the shy light that the shutters let through, there is a wooden pallet stained with a multitude of dried up colors of paint. Worn brushes are immersed in a greenish liquid…

 

Friday is market day. Martin leaves the house. He doesn't ask anyone for help. He advances, slowly, with a tired but polite gait, paces the hilly streets, hesitating with the effort. After a while, he stops, then recatches his breath a few meters further on to inhale a few drops of lavender oil which impregnate his handkerchief.

 

Near the church, he bumps awkwardly into the continuous flow of passers-by, listens to incoherent conversations, contemplates the colorful market stalls. There, he chooses his vegetables amid the hoarse cries of the market gardeners then merges into the winding streets that lead to the forecourt of the church. Children run in shorts that are too short, in worn shoes and in loose white shirts that flutter in the wind.

 

On the terrace of a cafe, something attracts him, as if coming from beyond the grave, like the memory slipping on the storms of the past. A woman in a dark blue coat. Before her on the table, a strong espresso. She is alone. From the back, Martin has never crossed the face of this phantom silhouette. He just recognizes the special design of her coat and her hair, tied in a short ponytail on top of her head which the curious wind is unable to ruffle.

Martin observes her. In the shy caress of her tired eye, she gets up, then disappears, caught up in the shimmering brilliance of the colorful crowds. The wind shakes the faded awning above the large terrace, tilts it slightly.

The leaves of the linden trees tremble and move in the same rhythm as the awning. From their branches runs a thick, oblong, distorted shadow.

 

Martin is walking again. In his thick fingers like cigars, he squeezes a bag full of old bread. He gently manipulates the slices, breaks them, throws them to the pigeons in the square, ignoring the aggressive grimaces of some people who hiss their displeasure.

 

Again, the woman in the dark blue coat. Like unreal, almost unexpected. This time, her eyes are plunged into the fresh ink of a book that she gently savors. Martin sees her in profile. Lips coated in a timeless red from which hangs a little to the left of a perfectly curved mouth, a small mole. Then, curious, Martin takes a few steps to get closer to her. This time, the lady in the blue coat is in his sights. Right in the visor of his beret, screwed on his bald head. He looks at her, and almost cries. His suddenly sharp eyes capture the moment. She shudders, and seems afraid. The next moment, the woman in the blue coat is already far away. She walks past the park gates, then in the shade of a big chestnut tree, to disappear behind the tall shrubs, where the sun never shines.

 

On returning home, Martin is happy, undresses the furniture in his late wife’s studio, reveals the grain of a canvas, the caress of the first colors and finishes “The Woman in the Blue Coat”, Gilda's last painting. The sky flows darkly black under Martin's tender gaze. He smokes a pipe, looks at the horizon and the myriads of stars, then gets up slowly and goes to bed.

There is a remnant of Cobalt Blue in the palm of his hand. An eternal salute to Gilda. As if to signal to him in the dark night that he is ready for the big departure…

 

© Bruno Roggen, Anhée, 2022

 


Submitted: August 06, 2022

© Copyright 2022 impetus. All rights reserved.

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