I think the best works of art always tell a story. An abstract painting may reflect the inner landscape of someone’s imagination just as much as a well-written poem. I have always loved stories. In fact, I have discovered that they are the center of my life. From my acting to my writing, to my painting and beyond, I am always creating the tales I long to inhabit. But more than that, good myths remind us about the nature of life that we knew as children but have forgotten as we grew.
The beauty of a story was best captured by G. K. Chesterton who said, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” Fairy tales give us strength and teach us what we need most to know in ways simple fact cannot.
The world of my imagination contains an uncountable amount of dimensions. There are pirates and fairies, knights and spacemen, and characters I have yet to conceive. I want my work to be a pouring of those worlds onto whatever medium happens to be at my disposal.
It can't be helped. The energy in the room is far too overwhelming. Tangible even. I feel it crawling over me like a swarm of locust and though I try to shake it off, it keeps returning. I see him across the room. The lights are dim and the atmosphere is designed to be inviting. A group of strings sits in the corner, creating melodies from nothing but wood and horsehair. I observe the passion of the violinist. His arm sways back and forth as if he's rowing a boat away from some tragic sinking ship. His face tells the story of a broken spirit lost at sea. I myself am lost at sea. A sea of faces and bodies swirling across the wooden floor. A spinning woman here, a light-footed man there, all oblivious to everyone and everything outside the purposeful boundaries of their own lives.
I see them. I take them in. I watch. And now that I've come and saw I must conquer.
He moves in such a way one would imagine he is laden with a thousand pounds of baggage. Though no one else watches, he still tries to hide it. The liquor in his strong yet elegant hand tells me that drinking isn't merely social. No, it is a mask for an actor. The only problem with masks is that it is so hard to speak through them. A voice gets lost behind the synthetic smiles.
He moves listlessly along the wall, pretending to observe the couples on the dance floor. With a look of pain he downs his gin and loosens the grip of his scarlet ascot. Yes, there is something chewing the seams of that mask. Very soon it will disintegrate. I smile. I'll help it along.
My step is light and my chin is tilted back to better observe this intriguing subject. As I move through the crowd of dancers, a divide seems to appear without so much as a single "excuse me." I love the power of presence. They don't have to look at me to know my demands. They just have to obey.
I feel my gown ruffle and I'm aware of the heavy pearls resting on my collar. The feather in my stacked hair flutters in the wind my gait creates. I'm hyperaware of everything around me though my key focus still rests on the tall, handsome gentleman near the wall. He is pressed against it now, glancing around for a servant boy. The one glass of alcohol wasn't enough. When he finds there is no one around he sinks, defeated into the embroidered wingback nearby.
I can't help but feel for the man. But more than that, I can't help but wonder. What could trigger such agony? What can break reserve? And more importantly, can a dance cure it? I figure it can't hurt even if it doesn't heal.
I'm almost to him now and so I let the courage of charm flow over me. It's like injecting another perspective directly into my veins. It's an ecstasy. I suppose a woman of my station should never speak of passion. But that's the problem here isn't it? Stiff coats and tight corsets. Hard musical lines all with a proper way. I can't be proper. And, apparently, neither can he.
I am in front of my object of scrutiny. He doesn't see me with his head buried in his hands that way. Pain is a sobering thing. I lightly rest my hand on his head. He doesn't move. I let my fingers fall down to his chin then gently lift. He sees me. Looks directly into my eyes but I see blank walls. But then, slowly, color returns to those dark irises I lay my hand in his and slowly pull him to his feet.
He's studying me, his face visibly puzzled. With a slow, deliberate grin I ask "care to dance."
All he does is nod, but that's the affirmation I need. I turn, hand still in his and we glide to the dance floor. I let the other couples fade from my vision, and soon it is just the two of us. The music turns to a sad melody with a surprisingly fast beat. Each strain is echoed by a turn. I start off leading, but soon he has learned my pace and focuses on trading positions. I feel the muscles in his fingers tense ever so slightly, the cue for me to move inward. Just before our bodies meet, his other hand pulls me back.
I am so close to breaking the barrier. All that comes between is hesitation. Like a slow-working venom, his confidence gathers. There is a distinction about the way he steps, the way he leads. His biceps flex, and I see his gaze solidify. All trace of the gin has been spun away.
I feel his impulse and I dip along with it. I'm surprised when he doesn't pick me back up. We become a painting, our eyes fixed on one another. The only thing that remains kinetic is our synchronous breathing. Rise, fall…Rise fall…the bow…Rise, fall…our chests…Rise fall…
The song changes suddenly, and I feel his muscles engage. I am upright again and spinning. The minor laments have become major tunes. His disposition has changed just as dramatically. He is upright, and in control. Whether he wears a mask now, I cannot tell, for if he does, it blends in with the rest of him.
All I'm certain of is that command has shifted. I no longer console him, he guides me. There is a flow now. It goes between us at a pace steadier than the steps this dance requires. Never have I felt this exchange. Never have I danced this waltz.
And then it ends. The musicians hold their positions in dramatic show. And so does he. I am inches from his face and look up to study it in bewilderment. There's a grin gripping the a single corner of his mouth. I feel myself matching it.
He puts out his arm and I take it.