Hello! Welcome to WEP 2021, the Year of Art. We begin with Klimt's THE KISS.
My entry today is taken from my to-be-published-in-2021 novel, Paris Dreams. We at WEP often share how many writers who've written a flash fiction for WEP go on to write a full-length novel.
My story grew from a flash fiction Her Final Day that I wrote for #Fridayflash before the idea of WEP was born. It grew first into a short story of 3,000 words, then kept growing until I had 104,000 words, too much. So with help from my writer friends, it's now down to 100,000 words and I'm cutting more before it goes on pre-order.
So, if you've toyed with the idea of writing for WEP, join me and many others who have turned flash fiction into a novel. And if you have a similar story, please share in comments.
For this excerpt, I cut down a 3,000 word chapter to 1,000 words, deleting, rearranging, massaging it to suit the challenge. It's the chapter which has references to Klimt so it suited the art theme.
I hope you get the context and enjoy...
oday is the day I move into Apartment 5A of rue des Martyrs Residences in Montmartre. I’ve been too busy with coursework at the Paris Institut of Fashion to give much thought to moving day.
The day is here. Ready or not.
Raphael passes me a takeaway coffee and we toast each other. ‘Are you okay, Sassy?’ He puts a hand on my shoulder and watches me, no doubt afraid I’m going to have a meltdown.
‘It’s all good.’ I remember my exhilaration the evening I moved in and the good times I’ve shared here with Raphael since. ‘I’m both excited and nostalgic.’
He frowns, no doubt uneasy that he’s done the wrong thing convincing me to move. Throwing his empty cup into the trash, he says, ‘Let’s get into it then.’ He heaves my sewing machine from the worktable.
Tossing my cup, I grab a box of fabric samples and lead Raphael downstairs. I race ahead to the door, stepping aside to let Raphael stagger past and set my sewing machine onto the dining table. Walking across the shiny retro black and white diagonal tiles, I spy the marble fireplace with baroque trims. I put down my box. ‘Phew. This apartment is beyond gorgeous.’
‘That’s the reaction I wanted.’ He takes my hand. ‘Let’s do the tour.’
Everywhere I look there’s something amazing. ‘Wow, Raphael,’ I keep repeating. I’m staggered at how the rooms sparkle with early morning light shining through the large floor to ceiling windows and how the French doors climb up to the ceiling to pick out the adorable plaster cupids and the bunches of grapes dripping from the corners of the luscious molding. ‘I love it. Oh, those black wooden beams are fabulous against the white ceiling.’ I can’t resist rubbing my palm over the walls. With the suede effect designed by Raphael, the walls are white and soft as cheese. ‘These walls are a masterpiece.’
‘I knew you’d love them. Let’s go onto the balcony.’ He walks me past the opulent chaise he’s installed near the windows, opens the doors and with a flourish of his hand, ushers me outside.
Paris is spread at our feet. The sun turns the terracotta rooftops golden and there’s an even better view of the Eiffel Tower than from the attic. ‘Wow. We’ll share an evening drink and watch the sunset.’ I rub my hand over the scrolled steel tabletop and admire the chairs with plump black and white cushions. ‘How much furniture did you buy? I owe you.’
‘It’s a house-warming present. If you don’t like something, it can be returned.’
I grip the balcony rails and try not to resent him for buying furniture without checking with me. But his choices are perfect. Of course. He’s an artist. ‘You’ve made great choices. It feels like home. Thanks.’ I hug him and think how much I love Raphael and Paris. His generosity is not an act of control like my father’s back in New York, rather an act of love. But I would have liked black and pink checked cushion covers. Just saying.
Raphael kisses my forehead. ‘I love doing things for you.’
‘You’ve outdone yourself.’ Back inside, I marvel at the pièce de resistance, the opulent Louis X1V inspired bedroom with its luxuriant burgundy cover fringed with gold which wouldn’t be out of place at Versailles. ‘Raphael, it’s heaven.’ I turn and embrace him. ‘We’ll watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle from the bed.’
He gives me a wicked smile, takes a curl of my hair and twists it around his finger. ‘I want to see more than the Eiffel Tower twinkle.’
I take a deep breath. ‘As much as I love my attic, this apartment is brilliant.’ I want to run wild and whoop around this new space.
‘When we finish bringing down your things, Sassy, I’ll hang some art.’
I watch him hang a huge oil on the living room wall.
‘“The Four Seasons of Paris”,’ he says with a sweep of his hand, ‘a Raphael Valentine original.’
I stand on tiptoe and kiss his cheek. ‘OhMyGod. It’s stunning.’ It’s a polyptych, four gorgeous gold-edged panels. Pink flowered trees line the Champs-Elysées in spring with us sitting on a bench facing the Eiffel Tower; the Hotel de Ville beach with our easily recognizable figures embracing after playing volleyball represents summer; autumn leaves fall near the Pont des Arts where we’re picnicking on a golden rug; winter sees me wearing a long red coat walking through the snow beside the Seine towards Raphael. I’ve yet to experience a Paris spring or winter. Winter is coming. I hope it’s as beautiful as his painting promises. I’d better buy a red coat.
‘You don’t mind me choosing art for you?’ Raphael squeezes my shoulder.
My eyes flicker from panel to panel then back again. ‘Not at all. This,’ I hold out my hand, ‘is truly amazing.’ I wrap my arm around his waist. ‘I’m impressed how the brush work is more Monet than Dali, but I see a glimpse of Klimt’s “Woman in Gold” in your metallic rendition of summer.’
He grins. ‘Maybe I’m entering my “Golden Phase.” I love the way Klimt used gold, which is how I see you, my love, pure gold. You’ll be my Adele Bloch-Bauer 1.’ He spins me around and kisses me. He takes my hand and leads me to the chaise longue with its red velvet and gold trim.
‘This chaise is my favorite piece of furniture. I’ve used it to pose my muses. Just kidding.’ He sits me on the chaise and I have fun reclining like a glamorous muse against the padded end, fluffing out my long blonde hair, one arm behind my head like Klimt's muse, Emilie Floge. ‘You’re my muse, Sassy. I’m inspired to paint like never before, my own woman in gold.’
Despite my misgivings, how well we’re getting along. I’m his muse. He’s my muse. Inspired by him, I’ll create fashion which will bring Paris to its knees.
How many women are lucky enough to have a lover like Raphael before them on their knees?
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If it's too late for you to be inspired by 'The Kiss', please consider WEP in April for our next art challenge: