Every Wednesday, he’s there.
She’s never spoken to him, but she follows him. She prays for the polished parquet floor to become her ally — to squeak and make him turn and look at her. But not just look at her, really: make him see her, for once — see past the blue uniform and the shiny name-tag.
He stops in front of a painting in the surrealist exhibition. “I’ve heard about this one,” he says.
Nobody else is around, but it takes her a moment to realize he’s speaking to her. She glides to his side, as close as she dares.
“Dali,” she says. “Swans Reflecting Elephants, 1937.”
“Just a reproduction.”
“Yeah. It’s still nice, though.”
He tilts his head and reads the sign next to the painting. She revels in the permission to look at him straight on for a change, and not have to steal a glance out of the corner of her eye.
He looks back at the painting with a frown. “I don’t see the swans.”
“You don’t?” She points them out, hoping he won’t notice how her hands are trembling. “The necks are the trunks. Here, see? And the elephants’ ears become the swan bodies.”
He gives it another two seconds. “No. All I see are elephants.”
For some reason, that makes her blush. “Perhaps you should look again,” she suggests.
He turns and looks into her eyes. There is anger in them, and it makes her cheeks flare even hotter. “I’m not gonna make myself see something that’s not there. That’s a waste of my time.”
The words slap across her face. Tears threaten behind her eyes, and she excuses herself. As she walks away, the parquet squeaks beneath her heavy feet.
Heavy, like an elephant’s.
Sylvia Hiven lives and writes in Atlanta, Georgia. Her fiction has appeared in over a dozen publications incuding Pseudopod, AlienSkin Magazine, Flash Me Magazine, and more.