Words Sherebanu Y.
Header Credits Google.
Nombre de la jour – 13 Date – Samedi le 13em Février, 1869
Time – 1630h Nom – Eva Carola Jeanne Emmanuela Antoinette Gonzalès
It all began with the shoes.
It was the same day that he had asked me whether he could paint me when he gave me those shoes.
We were working in his studio, discussing the various tints and hues that could be incorporated into the background of my current canvas, when he voiced out his request, all while steadily looking me in the eye, holding two boxes that looked like they came from a prestigious fashion store like Des Dames et des Modes, that contained a white dress and a pair of flats.
Astounded, I took a moment to process this, knowing well enough that the last woman he had painted was a young lady named Berthe Morisot, a co-worker who posed for him wearing a white dress and pair of ballet flats that looked uncannily similar to the ones I held in my arms right then. Her predecessor, the infamous Lola de Valance, a Spanish dancer who’s portrait was painted when his obsession of espagnolisme had reached its peak.
He insisted that I opened the boxes first before I made up my mind. Gingerly, I pulled apart the ribbons and lifted the lid off, releasing a soft gasp of awe in the process.
In the larger box sat the most beautiful thing that I had ever laid my eyes upon. A white silk gown tied together by two smooth, thick black silk strips that effortlessly clinched at the waist gracefully fell down in pleats that flared softly at the bottom, giving it an angelic and ethereal glow.
But it was those shoes, oh those shoes that were truly my ending. Never before had such gorgeous creatures been cursed to touch my calloused hands. A size two beauty made entirely of leather and satin, they sat there together, the grace, elegance and sophistication that they oozed out practically tangible in the air. Looking at them with eyes filled with adoration, I watched the dappled sunlight create mesmerising patterns and shapes that seemed to spell out my name. To top it all off, where two fuzzy balls of fabric, much like the cotton tails of rabbits delicately lying on the vamp.
Of course, at first, I profusely refused both the offer and the gift, knowing full well the high value and importance of them. Coming from a family with deep pockets, I was no stranger to the lavish clothes and societal extravaganza that was demanded of anyone wealthy, but to accept those from him, that would be suicide.
Yet, as I snuck a second glance at them, I knew there was no way that I could fathom to refuse them.
Reflecting back, I think that that was the moment that he confessed his love for me.
To be honest, though, I wasn’t surprised by this outcome. I always knew that he was quite taken with me from our very first encounter, never being able to express his emotions freely, thus constantly seeking solace in his canvas and paintbrushes.
Who would have known that his feelings could grow so rapidly, and in such magnitude. But now, he confessed his love for me, and accepting that gift would be confessing it back.
As I tried on the shoes, staring at the reflection in the mirror in front of me I could already hear the whispers flooding the streets once more, only this time, instead of critiquing the fact that I was his first, and probably the only pupil that he took on, and a girl, nonetheless; no, this time, the canards would talk about the wildly inappropriate gift from a mentor, to a much too passionately interested student, with an arrangement, that by all accounts, was far from anything professional.
The streets, however, as wealthy my parents are, as skilled and detailed my paintings are, as prolific an artist I may be, they forget, that I was simply a young woman in her prime, wanting to depict the aesthetics of the contemporary Parisian lifestyles amongst the beginnings of an onslaught of colours and vibrancy that will radicalize art as we know it.
No, they will remember me, as the spineless girl with the beautiful shoes and influential mentor, for you see, it was the shoes that started it all.