“Okay,” Gina said, “let’s get this straight right from the get-go. I am not your love, do you understand, Euan?” Gina fixed an icy stare onto the awkward young man.
“I’m just saying … ” Euan shuffled his feet and sank his hands deep into his pockets. “Look, why don’t we pop into the museum, grab a coffee in the downstair café?”
From their position on the street, a set of stone stairs lead up towards a grand portico. Gina sensed Euan making a mental judgment on how busy he expected the place to be. She knew he didn’t like crowds, he didn’t like queuing in long lines, and he especially didn’t like tourists, nor young children and retired pensioners.
“No.” Said Gina, wary of capture in the discomfort of his company for longer than she could bear. “I want you to understand Euan, I am happy. Since we parted ways my life has been looking up, and, since we have parted ways, you need not concern yourself with my state of happiness.” Gina watched Euan wilt before her. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”
A steady flow of visitors pooled into the forecourt. Sun hats, baseball caps and floral patterned parasols funnelled through the large wooden doors, drip-feeding the museum, people escaping the heat of high noon into the cool interior.
“Could we at least get out of the sun and go inside for a few minutes? Find somewhere in the sculpture gallery to sit for a while?” Euan said.
The blank expression of Apollo, positioned atop a plinth housed within an alcove, gazed out over Gina’s head. She noted how this particular Greek marble qualified for membership of an exclusive club in the collection; his admittance via possession of modest-sized genitals presented integras abscedentes and intact. Despite the proud postures, almost all the others, Gina had learned from her previous visits, posed minus vital appendages. She imagined elderly Victorian curators of antiquity, motivated by a driving need to preserve the prevailing sense of middle class morality, roaming the galleries in the dead of night, administering the force of a mallet blow onto a precisely positioned and sharpened chisel.
“I wonder how he avoided the chop?” She said, giving voice to an abstract thought.
“Who is he?” Euan asked, scanning the athletic representation, briefly.
“Apollo, one of the greatest Greek gods, complex … but not complicated.” Gina replied, returned abruptly to her immediate environs.
“Complicated like me, you mean?” Euan eased himself down onto a red velvet upholstered bench, one from a row of several, lining the centre of the high ceilinged gallery.
“Euan,” Gina remained standing, arms folded, “you are over-emotional and needy. Of late, you’ve just about become … insufferable.”
“You’ll never know how much I love you.” Euan said, staring down at his hands, his fingers interweaving in a constant state of agitation.
“Euan!” Gina quickly recomposed herself, mindful of a gallery invigilator walking close by. “For the record, nor will you and I can live with both truths. Them’s the breaks, it’s called acceptance.”
“I’ll never be able to forget what we had, Gina.” Euan sniffed, wiped his nose with the back of his hand and sighed.
“Oh for God’s sake Euan.”
Gina recoiled, turning away from the crumpled heap to face Apollo once again, drawing on her reserves of mental fortitude. For several months, while she’d tried to disentangle herself from the relationship, she’d endured similar behaviour. He’d shown himself to be sticky and ably determined, constantly love-bombing her in the dying weeks, proving only to strengthen her resolve.
“What we had, that wasn’t love. You once told me you felt like you carried on loving all the women from your past, including your ex-wife and the serious relationships either side of your marriage. Well, that’s not love Euan, that’s an attachment issue.”
“I’d meant loving on a certain kind of level. It’s not a fucking attachment issue.” Euan spluttered.
“You know what? You want some free advice?” Gina set herself ready to leave. “Euan, I’ll tell you this, believe me, you need to grow a set.”
©Brinkinfield 2020 All Rights Reserved
Part of the Ekphrasis Project (story inspired by a picture)