Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The White Sheet

(Venus by Henri Matisse)

He touches her through a white sheet.

“Your shoulder.”


The sheet hangs between them.

“And wrist.”


There is the illusion of warmth when her flesh touches the sheet and the sheet touches him.

“Your ear.”

“My ear.”

The sheet is a metaphor.

“Your neck.”

“My neck.”

The sheet is real.

“Your pulse.”

“So fast.”

She cannot see him, either, of course. But she understands those fingers. How they search, then retreat. How they play upon her laughter. How they see her more clearly than eyes ever could.

What they skirt.

“Your knee.”

“My knee.”

“Your . . . ”


She lists toward him. Begins to sink to her knees. He pulls his hand away.

But soon falls to a floor.

His breath is hot on her face. The molecules of his breath, passing through microscopic pores, are hot on her face. She presses her cheek against the division.

He does the same.

“How long?”

She can feel the muscles work the words.


“This thing comes down.”

She turns her face. A few degrees.

“I don’t think it can.”

He turns his face.



What passes for lips might be a kiss. For a moment, she believes it to be.

Until she pulls away and sees her lipstick. The red impression. Of an unwritten story.

They rise to their feet.

“Your shoulder.”

“My shoulder.”

She touches him through a white sheet.

“And wrist.”

The sheet hangs between them.



Susan Deborah said...

Ah! This was so tender but still a few degrees less.

Life is sometimes like that.

Joy always,

Charles Gramlich said...

the red of an untold story. Very nice. Loved that line in particular.

Stephen Parrish said...

Love it. The sheet, despite its immediacy and thinness, could represent any barrier, even distance.

Catherine Vibert said...

lovely. somehow it reminded me of summer. I liked, 'the sheet is a metaphor' than 'the sheet is real'. the never quite merging of souls in reality, the almost but not quite of it, the tiniest separation that makes the possibility that much more tantalizing. :-)

Richard Levangie said...

Lovely, Sarah.

Our minds are so provocative and powerful. But I hold the belief that if the sheet doesn't come down, it simply isn't real.

Sarah Hina said...

Susan Deborah, indeed it is. :) Thanks for reading!

Charles, as writers, we're probably all most captivated by those unwritten stories.

Steve, it really could represent anything. But distance works for me. I've been thinking more about my current novel. This was an exercise to get me back into it.

Cat, white sheets hanging on a summer line, right?

Of course you picked up on my favorite lines, too. And my intent. Like there was ever any question. ;)

Richard, it's an interesting question, and one I'm endlessly fascinated with. But I tend to believe that things are as real as we make them. Or as they make us.

Now fulfillment? That's a different matter altogether. :)

Grimmgirl said...

Nice, Sarah --- Interesting how much we can see with the barest description.

the walking man said...

Reading your last set of comments I am making the sheet real and the game foreplay for the metaphor,when the sheet becomes nothing separating them.

Karen said...

I can see the sheet as the barrier separating the artist from his or her art. The Venus of Matisse's picture exists inside the frame but is always divided from her creator. Just as Pygmalion caressed and loved Galatea, this artist loves a creation that can not really return that love. She cannot see him, but as his creature, she understands his touch, and feels his breath upon her. Such a loving and longing of creation.

Mona said...

"between the conception and the creation...falls a shadow/ Life is very long..."

Sarah Hina said...

Hayley, I like that aspect of writing, too. Trusting the reader. Thanks!

Mark, I always love your comments.

Karen, your interpretation pleases me immensely. I love your vision here. Thank you.

Mona, thank you for those delicious crumbs of Eliot's. :)