Finally the last guests left. I threw away my high heel stiletto shoes and collapsed on the sofa. My cigarette burnt half way in the ashtray as I said good-byes to my guests.
“Do you think they liked the party?” I asked Gabriel, my husband, who was locking the front door.
“Of course they did. You’re always a wonderful hostess,” he replied entering the living room. “You were up on your feet the entire night with a big smile on your face.”
“That’s true, I had no time for a smoke and a glass of wine,” I admitted squashing the burnt cigarette. “Every single year I said on my next birthday we’ll go out.”
“Anca, you’ve always changed your mind,” pointed out Gabriel, “and you’ll do it again because that’s how you are.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re a typical Pisces,” said Gabriel smiling, “when your two fish are going in opposite directions it’s hard to stick to your decision. Right?” he caressed my hair and kissed my forehead. “But now relax; I’ll bring your wine.”
I rested my head on the sofa and put my feet up on the coffee table. I was surrounded by flowers: yellow daffodils on the black piano, purple tulips on the cherry sideboard and blue hyacinths on the glass coffee table. The sofa in front of me was loaded with gifts carefully dressed in wrapping papers of pastel colour: lime, baby-blue and rose-pink. I decided to open them in the morning, now seemed to be a too big effort instead of a pleasure. But one, laid on a chair in a corner of the room, unwrapped plain cardboard box, drew my attention.
Gabriel brought the wine and my cigarettes ceremoniously on a silver tray and laid them on the coffee table. He sat beside me and we clinked glasses. “Cheers! Happy fifty!” The wine sparkled and gold bubbles rose up. With my first sip, fresh crushed grapes broke into my mouth their flavor of apple, pear and peach along with citrus and tropical nuances. I lit a cigarette, adding the taste of good tobacco enhanced the wine flavor.
“Gabriel, please open that present,” I said, pointing at the lonely box.
“Who is it from?”
“I don’t know.”
Gabriel brought the box and tore off its sealing. He carefully pulled up a picture and took a long, attentive look at it.
“What is it? Let me see.”
“Mirror Image, by Daniel Drzymalski, photographic C print,” Gabriel read the title and turned the picture towards me.
It was a black and white photograph. It showed a girl wearing a grey sweater and leggings, probably in her late twenties. She was standing up tall and slim and looked in a mirror over her shoulder, slightly twisting her tiny waist as if she was checking her long black hair.
“Is there any card?”
“Nope,” said Gabriel, his hand searching in the box. Then he carefully laid the picture back on the chair and came to sit beside me. We sipped our wine while admiring the print.
“You know what?” Gabriel broke the silence. “She looks like you when we first met.”
“Nooo. What are you talking about?” My eyes squinted for a better image. “I always had red hair and she’s brunette. I am short, she’s tall.”
“Look at her eyes in the mirror, same mysterious look,” said Gabriel and took another sip of wine. “I never knew what’s in your mind.”
“Dear, I don’t see a mysterious look in that picture,” I replied, smiling and cupped his face between my palms, “but I see turbidity in yours.”
“Maybe I drank too much, so if you don’t mind I’ll go to sleep,” said Gabriel and turned to kiss my palm. “But she does look like you.”
“Sure dear.” I kissed him back. “Good night.”
I was happy to have a few moments of total silence.
“Cheers!” I said to the girl in the picture as I sipped my wine. Then I lit a cigarette and looked at her through a cloud of smoke. The grey tones dissipated in the background while the black and the white colours showed out prominently. Her diaphanous, long figure draped by her long black hair created in the mirror a sense of mystery.
I drank more wine and blew another cloud of smoke over the picture. The wings of smoke touching the girl’s face seemed to bring her to life. I thought at Gabriel’s words and looked closely at her eyes reflected by the mirror. To me they inspired melancholy and sometimes as the light changed, filtered by smoke, I saw confusion but not mystery. Indeed that was me thirty years ago, a melancholic and confused girl who believed in poetry and longtime lasting love.
I sighed deeply but my chest was heavy as memories rushed back. “Angie, beautiful Angie,” sang Rolling Stones. I betrayed that girl, the poetry’s painful labour and love’s lifetime slavery. I chose easy, convenient ways. But she was still there at the bottom of my heart. I could hear her crying: “What about me!” “When will my time come?” “What have you done with my life?”
“Oh for God sake, shut up!” I said loud and poured another glass of wine.
Though that was thirty years ago that struggle started in my head so easily and lately so often. But that choice wasn’t totally mine. I was easily influenced and the indecisiveness was my stigma. Even now, at fifty years old, the nagging in my head was still torturing me. If I must take a decision: which way to go? If I did take a decision: was it the best? If I talked: did I say the right words? If I didn’t talk: why didn’t I say anything? If I chose something: did I make the right choice? And so on, my entire life was an argument.
The debate ran with the same pathos, either for insignificant or major matters. Actually, most of the time I didn’t know what was in my mind, but poor Gabriel, how was he supposed to know. He was right, the girl’s eyes looked like mine, but what he saw as mystery I saw as misery. Indeed, the overall print had an enigmatic atmosphere but the girl’s eyes showed indecisiveness. I knew that expression very well.
“Cheers sis,” I raised my glass and took a sip. “I bet you’ve changed a few outfits and yet not happy with your look.”
I used to do that at her age and this bad habit stuck to me all my life. My younger daughter, another Pisces, was the same. There were tons of clothes all over her room. Often, what she prepared at night, for next day at school, wasn’t cool any more in the morning. Unfortunately she inherited my traits. Though she always had high grades, her report cards asked for more participation in class. That was like me in school. I could picture the tormenting question going through her mind: “Should I talk?” and another student answering the teacher’s question by the time she’d decided. Gabriel never understood how she could waste her entire lunch break choosing her meal from school’s cafeteria and then starve, but I knew.
I wondered if all Pisces go through the same ordeal. I hoped not. Maybe I’d start a blog, called “Indecisive Pisces”. I could find more like us, learn from each other’s experience and help each other. Maybe this could grow in a club, like a café where hesitant Pisces could tell their stories, read, sing and expose their creations. Of course the print “Mirror Image” would hang in the middle of the central wall.
“Not, maybe!” I yelled. “I’ll certainly do that!” I took a gulp of wine and lit a cigarette.
Then I smiled at the girl in the picture.
“To our success, sis!” I continued talking loud. “You’re a Pisces too, I knew it.”
Gabriel entered the room.
“Are you talking to yourself?” he asked.
“No, no, to the picture,” I said, then took another sip of wine and raised the glass to the girl.
“Are you drunk too?”
“No, I’m so lucid that I’ve decided next year we’ll go out.”
“I heard that before.”
“I won’t change my mind. For sure! She’ll help me.” I said pointing the girl.
“And I’m also sure you’re drunk,” said Gabriel and held my hands. “Let’s go to sleep.”
“Not yet, I want to write a poem for her.”
“A poem? Since when do you write poems?”
Cecilia-Anca Popescu is a scientist in love with literature. She’s fascinated both by the magic of words and of chemicals. By daylight she mixes substances, distils compounds and creates chemical reactions. By moonlight she mixes words, distills events and creates stories.
Cecilia has been taking Brian Henry’s creative criting courses for the past three years, where besides learning how to write, she has found inspiration and support.
Cecilia has published poems in Roots Magazine and LiterArt XXI. A bilingual version of her book of poetry, Forbidden Love, was published in 2009 by Criterion Publishing in Romania. In 2011 she was recognized as one of Canada’s promising emerging writer by the prestigious Diaspora Dialogues.
Cecilia gave a reading of “Oh, Those Indecisive Pisces” at CJ's Cafe in December. The next reading night at CJ's will be Thursday, March 28. Details here.
Brian will be starting two Next Step in Creative Writing classes – on Thursday afternoons in Mississauga (see here) and on Thursday evenings in Georgetown (see here). To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, he’ll be leading Life Stories classes on Monday mornings in Mississauga (see here) and Monday afternoons in Brampton (see here and scroll down), and he'll lead a Welcome to Creative Writing course on Tuesday afternoons in Burlington (see here). To register, email email@example.com
See Brian's full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia, Gravenhurst, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.