I looked not at the artist
But past him,
Past his ornamental rugs on his glossy wooden floors
Toward the door,
He saw me gathering rosebuds
And told me he needed,
Absolutely had to,
It was utterly imperative
That he paint me.
I said no,
I’m just getting these for my mother.
And the sight of these always cheers her up.
I will pay you.
How much do you want?
Let me go home and talk with her.
I’ll meet you here again at this time tomorrow
With an answer.
When we met next,
He immediately handed me five times
What she told me to ask for.
I looked up at him,
Smiled and nodded,
And put the money in my purse.
A wordless transaction.
Now I stand on a small stage holding a
Brass or silver or other metal vase,
With this wealthy man painting me.
He gave me the dress and
He fashioned my hair and
He rearranged the dress,
And he told me to stand straighter more than once.
I do not tell him
How anxious I feel,
How strange and uncomfortable this is,
How my arms and fingers are growing weary,
I think not of these things.
I look past them,
And think only of
How much this money will help my mother.
Robinson Terry lives and works in NE Iowa. He enjoys pausing hikes for beautiful views and stopping on the bridge to watch the river. He’s been published in 50-Word Stories and Flash Fiction Press.