First installment of ‘Stepped to life’

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He first saw her in the park. He was sitting in his favorite spot (under the oak tree on a bench that was tilted unevenly by the root which grew beneath it) reviewing some papers and he happened to glance up as she walked by. It was his favorite spot because it was the only bench in the whole park that faced the river, and he did so love the view, loved watching the people walking down the path against the serene backdrop of the ducks on the river. She was pushing an old fashioned stroller, more of a perambulator really, and it looked to actually be antique. There was a little girl walking along side, her hand dutifully holding the edge of the carriage, helping guide it, as the woman’s arms were also encumbered by an enormous picnic basket, and a long umbrella tucked under an arm. The girl’s chestnut curls would have been a mirror of the woman’s, had they been unrestrained by the tight braid that fell heavy down her back. They looked like they had stepped out of a Renoir painting onto the park pathway before him and just kept walking. The woman’s mode of dress was modernized of course, lacking the poofs and ruffles signature to the fashion of those days… Also, he mused, Renoir never painted people in such awkward situations as trying to juggle two children, an oversized umbrella and a picnic basket half one’s own size. The great impressionist  would have at least been gentleman enough to provide the scene with a man to carry the burden. Yet nonetheless, the air of it was definitely there. The long drifting folds of the woman’s dress, the wide brimmed sun hat that graced her head, the perambulator, and delicate child drifting sweetly beside it told of the serenity that Renoir had lent the commonplace.

He watched as they set up their picnic, building an idyllic scene that truly did resemble a Renoir painting fully. She had spread out a blue quilt on the grass, and was sitting in profile to him, her legs curled around her, her skirt pooling about her in a way that made his breath hitch in his throat. Captivated, he watched them eat their lunch. How sweet the woman’s hands were as she neatly unpacked The meal. How patient the little girl, sitting quietly on a corner of the quilt, her skirt tucked about her like a proper little lady. They ate slowly and delicately, and when they were done, the woman pulled a book from the basket and read while the little girl danced about the grass, picking the springs first violets, the enormous umbrella lay forgotten and discarded some feet from the blanket. The sun reflected off the river in the background behind them. Beautiful.  . Like a butterfly the little girl was in her pink dress, flitting about her mother who seemed more akin to a flower in her still beauty.  Papers forgotten, he sat and watched them, an aching loneliness rising within his chest. Fully taken by the scene, his world narrowed to the family before him. That is, of course, until a gust of wind took his papers and scattered them across the pathway into the grass. Startled by the suddenness of it he jumped to his feet in alarm, dashing to retrieve them, the wind continued to toss them about playfully as he scrambled about chasing them desperately trying to catch them all before one landed in the river.

By the time all of the papers were recaptured and accounted for, they had disappeared. I t was as if they had simply packed up and stepped into some picture frame, back into the era in which they belonged. He sighed morosely and shook himself, trying to free his mind from the unexpected yearning they had inspired. Such scenes were not for him, he knew…

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About Keats

Oh I'm sassy and I'm sexy, So silly sweet-and-sour Delightfully disastrous And deliciously dour I'm flippantly foolish, Filled I am with fear Can't concentrate completely, and my conduct isn't clear But to bravely be my best I Bring bravado back, BEHOLD!

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