Alexander strolled slowly through the hall of the contemporary art gallery. Actually, he was not a big fan of paintings, but after the conference, he still had a couple of hours before the plane, and he had to kill time somehow…
He stopped near one of the paintings. Hues of lilac and blue. Something about the mood there struck a chord in him. It showed a girl resting, reclined comfortably on boulders that… Ah! If you looked closer, they were actually the huge head of a man half-buried in the ground. She seemed lost in a dreamy reverie, gazing up at the sky. A congregation of stars and everything around her was full of movement. Only she, herself, seemed to stand still in time and space. Starlight flooded her face, but Alexander sensed a deep longing in her almost indistinguishable features …
Memories of past years suddenly swept over him …
They had celebrated their graduation from school, surrendering completely to the delight of the warm evening. After the tense months of preparations and exams, they were overwhelmed with a sense of long-awaited freedom. Taking a chilled cola from the refrigerator, Alexander drew two intertwined hearts on the bottle’s cool condensate with his finger. Then he took a deep breath and went to the balcony to Victoria. Oh, how beautiful she was in her lilac silk dress! He handed her the drink. “Thank you,” she said with a timid smile and then quietly added, “the sky is so starry tonight …”
He hesitated then to reveal his feelings to her, realizing that her family would never accept him. The owners and managers of a huge company, they had made it very clear where he belonged. And then she had left, gone to study at an elite private college, and their paths parted … forever …
“Do you like it?” asked a woman’s voice behind him. Alexander turned and couldn’t believe his eyes. Before him stood …
“Victoria …” he somehow managed to say.
“Sasha! What a coincidence!” the woman exclaimed. “How many years, how many winters! I really did not expect to see you at my exhibition, honestly.”
“Your exhibition?! I thought you were busy running your company …” he answered in bewilderment.
“Oh, that is a stage already passed, Sasha … After endless debates and arguments, I finally managed to find freedom. Besides, my brothers are doing just fine without me,” she finished and winked.
“You’re almost …” he mumbled.
“Haven’t changed at all!” she finished the sentence for him and laughed. “In a hurry?”
“Hmm … not at all. I would be delighted if you’d show me your work.”
But in reality, she had changed. And how much! From a modest, shy girl, she had turned into a confident, bold and charming woman. He could not stop looking at her.
“So you have become a cardiologist? A specialist in affairs of the heart,” she told him with a mischievous smile as, after an extended tour of the gallery, they settled comfortably in the cafe. “What about your wife, children?”
“It turned out that I am not a family man,” he confessed to her and then asked in a slightly trembling voice, “and you?”
“I have two wonderful children, a boy and a girl. They are now in college. And I broke up with my husband as soon as they grew up, because apart from them and the family business, as it turned out, nothing connected us …”
Alexander’s flight had departed long ago, but this did not bother him in any way. And when Victoria offered to show him her workshop, he enthusiastically agreed. “Great! And where do you get so much inspiration from?” he asked, sincerely delighted with her talent.
“Out of the bottle …” she answered cryptically.
“Out of the bottle?!” he asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Well, yes … you know … some find consolation in the bottle, while others manage to release the wish-fulfilling Jinn. I draw my inspiration from the magic bottle I have! And moreover, in fact, it does not matter at all what I pour into it – juice, drinks, or plain water … it works flawlessly,” she answered him soulfully, looking straight into his eyes. And then she went to the table with paints and took from there a small plastic flask. At first glance, it appeared to be a most common cola bottle. And then Alexander noticed two intertwined hearts, drawn with a red pen on its surface …
Tears welled up in his eyes, and the world was painted in all the colours of the rainbow.
Written by Elena Voroniouk © 2021, all rights reserved.
To read the story in Russian, please click here.