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This short story is inspired by Gauguin’s painting called, ‘Under The Pandanus’. I wrote the story and published it I thought, with this photo and when it came out the story was gone. So I have had to do it all again. UGH! Any feedback is most welcome, thanks.
Waiting is the worst, seconds seem like minutes, and minutes seem like hours. My easel, paints, and my new sable brushes are ready. I set them up in the shade such as it is, under the prickly grey-green leaves of the Pandanus. The large tubular roots propping up the tree look like a pleated skirt. The gently waving fronds with the light shining through, are perfect as the backdrop of the painting I have envisioned. Pacing back and forth I watch the beach for my model. I haven’t seen her before but the village elders tell me she is the most beautiful of their young women. I take a leap of faith and trust their judgement.
The sweat drips off my forehead and runs down my nose. My soft cloth hat is soaked, and I can smell my own rather earthy sweat. I look at my watch which is futile as time is a very elastic concept here. She will turn up when she thinks it is right and not before. I scan the beach, unsure if she is already watching me.
Then an apparition arises from the crystal blue lagoon, and I wonder no more. Her lithe, smooth, coffee-coloured skin gleams as the salt water relinquishes its grasp, and water streams from her long black hair.Tiny rivers run down her shoulders, her breasts, and her thighs. My belly does a slow rolling turn, and I lick my dry lips as she emerges like a fabled sea-creature. So sleek, so at one with the ocean that surrounds her. Watery fingers caress her strong legs as she strides out of the surf towards me, waiting on the beach.
My breath comes in long, jerky gasps. I am afraid to speak, afraid to break the mesmerizing spell of this girl, who is not yet a woman. Her shell earrings bounce in time with her breasts as the comes closer, and the tiny shells on her bracelet tinkle as she walks. As she passes me, I smell her clean, salty skin, and underneath a promise of things yet to come. She stops ahead of me and turns, the sand squealing in protest. She smiles, her white teeth a startling contrast to her brown skin.
“Mr Googan?” she says with a charming accent. I nod, unable to do anything else.
“Where do you want me to sit?” Her high, girlish voice is at odds with her voluptuous woman’s body. I point my shaking brush towards the large, grey, lichen covered rock which dwarfs its neighbors under the Pandanus.
“Sit there” I croak. I turn away and busy myself with brushes, and paints. My eyes sting with unexpected tears, and my hands tremble with excitement or lust, I am not sure which as I fumble with my easel. I take a deep breath and listen to the soothing crash of the waves. I adjust my breathing to the hypnotic rhythm of the sea, and restore my equilibrium, as I inhale the slightly fishy tang, and watch the clouds drift like cotton balls tinged with pink across the brilliant blue sky.
The sound of children‘s laughter further down the beach is another welcome distraction. A large black dog, with a white zigzag on his forehead like a lightening bolt, chases the children in and out of the foaming crests. I watch as the dog swims out and waits for the children to catch up. Then he turns and swims to the beach. He runs up the sand barking, then he shakes, sending a spray of water over the people sitting there. He flops onto the beach his pink tongue flopping out to the side. When the children run up the beach towards him, he jumps up and runs back to the water. The children follow screaming with joy. He reminds me of a hairy pied-piper.
A large pineapple-like fruit, falls from the Pandanus with a clang, clattering over the rocks beneath, and then drops with a thud. I realize with a jolt that I have let my attention wander. The girl sits there undisturbed by it or me. She is relaxed and serene undisturbed by my inability to put brush to canvas. I am afraid I will never be able to capture her innocence, her vitality, and unconscious wantonness. I can easily capture her external beauty and the beauty of the surroundings, but not the inner light that shines through like a beacon. My rainbow-hued palette, prepared only a short while ago is as nothing to the radiance sitting before me. My talent is not equal to the task this day. I stare at her for what seems like hours, but is in fact, only minutes. Rather abruptly, I avert my gaze.
“I’m sor, sor, sorry, but the light is not right. I could paint you some other day.”
She rises from her rock like a queen from her throne, as I hastily throw my equipment into my knapsack, and fold up my easel. I turn to watch her swaying up the beach, her long hair and her hips in perfect symmetry, as she walks away from my folly without a backward glance.