Fiction - The Grey Area, Absinthe Literary Review

Billie and Vincent
a short by Candi Chu

The fragile shell cracks, and midnight, a double yolk of time, spills over the city.  Yellow consumes the neon billboards of blue and silver, green and gold. Through this saffron veil, a stage sparkles, delicate as fireflies glittering the summer grass of Arles.  Like rose petals before a bride, scattered medallions of moonlight carpet Billie Holiday’s path.  She caresses the lemon haze that is her microphone and begins to sing.  

Vincent waves his paintbrush—a wizard’s wand, a bandleader’s baton—and replaces the gardenia in her hair with a sunflower.  Her song reminds him of crows in the wheatfields; memory ensnares him.  The behind-the-beat sway of her hips untangles and eases him into the music, and when he joins her, their duet alters the air, shocking it alive like a swimmer diving nude into a cold lake.  Her voice is heartache dipped in honey; his is love fevered in lemongrass.  Her blues, his yellows harmonize to create a song the color of crushed emeralds.

The traffic lights applaud. Rhythmic puddles of red, red, red splash against the drizzling maize backdrop.  Vincent and Billie take a bow then exit stage left into the starriest night imaginable. 

The city is quiet as a crushed bell.  


© 2002 Candi Chu

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