The Canary and the Cat

She had been admiring him for far too long. For as long as he had admired the piece, in fact.

When she had chosen to travel to the often empty art gallery that day, she hadn’t expected much to happen. It was simply an enjoyable way for her to spend her free time, admiring the individual brush strokes, the time and effort put into each and every piece in the exhibit.

And so when she reached one of her favourite rooms, housing her favourite piece, she was surprised to find a man already transfixed by it. She traversed the room, hoping for the stranger to be gone to give her adequate space to admire this piece for some time. Instead, the longer he stayed, and the longer she had to admire him from a distance.

“Ethereal” she heard the man breathe.

He stared at what should be a simple concept: a nude portrait of the Goddess Venus. And yet, with how plain it was in concept, with how much it lacked in the abstract department, this particular image shone in a room full of colourful portraits and religious pieces.

She bit her lip and steeled herself; she wasn’t about to back away from this. She loved that painting, and this stranger wouldn’t frighten her off.

“Do you know why?” she found herself asking as she crept forward. Despite trying to keep her voice soft, he still jumped as she cut through the silence like a blade.

“Why what?” the man questioned, somewhat startled; so few people would speak in this place that he was unsure how to respond.

She couldn’t bring herself to look at him, embarrassed to have shocked him, and taken aback by the velvety English accent this man was graced with. Instead she gazed up at the woman, taking in her rosy cheeks and warm gaze. “Why she looks so much like the goddess she is?”

The man glanced between her and the painting before tilting his head, contemplative. “Well, she is beautiful.”

A laugh escaped the woman’s lips, leaving the man to feel his cheeks redden slightly.

“I apologize,” he spoke up, “but my knowledge of the arts is admittedly lacking.”

She tilted her head, looking to the man. He had longer, pitch black curls, and incredibly pale skin. He was leaner, in a fitted black suit with a hint of a green shirt underneath that brought his blue eyes out immensely. With the hopes that she wasn’t being overbearing to this overbearingly attractive man, she smiled. “Would you like to know?”

The blue eyes flickered to meet hers, and turned their focus back to the painting. he nodded.

Outstretching her hand, she ran her pinky finger in the air along the goddess’ figure.

“It’s mostly due to her height,” she explained, her voice a soft murmur compared to the sharp sounds of footsteps echoing throughout the exhibit. “Most artists measure the body relative to the size of the head. Women are typically around 7 heads, whereas she is closer to 10. It gives her an otherworldly feeling. Combine that with the long curls, the jewelry, and the clear, rosy skin…”

“Beautiful,” he breathed, taking in the piece with this new information. How clever, tricking the human eyes into seeing this woman as a deity-like figure, simply for her height alone.

“I especially love how delicate the veil is,” she mentioned, tracing it along in the air. “To paint something so delicate and transparent, and yet it is still so visible…”

His head turned to face her. “Are you an artist then?”

She reddened and shook her head. “I dabble. I’m afraid I only know so much because I live my life with books and not people.”

He nodded, looking back to the piece. “I can understand that.”

She bit her lip, moving to step away. “I’m so sorry, I’ve taken up so much of your time.”

“Nonsense,” he spoke up, perhaps a little too quickly for his liking. “I was hoping you would offer to explain more of these pieces to me, in all honesty.”

She looked up at the blue eyed man, surprise. “Surely you don’t want to hear me drone on.”

She then could have sworn she had caught a glimpse of a wicked grin, before it melded into a charming, debonair smile.

“Nothing said with your melodic voice could never be anything but enchanting, little dove.”

If the woman thought she was red before, it was nothing compared to now. No one had ever so openly flattered her.

“I…I,” she kicked herself for being so tongue tied, yet the man stepped forward and saved her the embarassment.

“May I have the honour of accompanying you? I wish to listen to your knowledge on these works.”

Finally composed, she nodded shyly. “I would like that very much.”

As the pair meandered along the exhibit, and the young woman rambled on, the man sat there, entranced by her words. But it wasn’t a smile that graced his devilish features, as the woman believed.

No, it was the look of a cat that had finally caught his canary.





Photo is a part of Lucas (The Elder) Cranach’s Venus – c. 1518, which inspired this piece.

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