by Mimi Vaquer
Andrei used to sit at the cracked stone bench in the courtyard behind the building and paint in the afternoon sunlight, positioning his canvas between the waltzing shadows of a mimosa tree that played on the cement surfaces. I would stop by my window and make out the tiny dots of color over his shoulder, reading the intent of his focus by the posture of his back, his muscles tensed and the tendons in his neck pushing against the skin. My neighbor, my friend, we sat on the corners of his couch with wine in hand, my mother there too, and toasted the time measured out in memories of each other – six years since he found the words to call America his second home. I don't remember now the taste of the steak, or the invitation that I only gave once, twice, no insistence on my part, not understanding the breach of etiquette I had committed through the judgment of his culture. He walks with his back to me down the cobblestoned street with a detached sashay, unaware of our near encounter, saved from the unnatural attempt at an averted gaze by simple seconds. Last night I sat in the courtyard and placed my glass over a forgotten spill of his paint, blue and yellow surreal through a crystal moon of glass, the claret color of wine staining the whites of my eyes.
Mimi Vaquer writes out of Savannah, GA. She is not yet an expert on anything.