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Online Art Gallery: Volume 27

Marlon Brando, My Father

by Kurtis Matthew

You
were
the Wild One.
Your name
was Stanley.
I spent months
trying to recreate
that cat sound
you make when
you introduce
yourself to
Blanche.
What I’m
wondering is…
Did you really
sleep with
Richard Pryor?
Did he bite
your neck
and give you
hickeys? How
much was carnal
and how much
was intimate?
Were there
whispered words?
Is there photographic
evidence? You
have become
my father,
in the cinematic sense.
I owe much of my
sensitive charisma
to you. It makes
me sad to see how
you turned out.
I mostly focus
on your younger years.

Is that cruel of me?
Why did you ever
leave Tahiti?
Did those boxes
and boxes of tapes
you made for
yourself really help?
Was tragedy inevitable?
Could you have done
it any better?
Is there hope
for me?

Moon River

by Victoria Daisley

Olivia pulled her knees up to her chest and leaned lightly against the windowpane. Her gaze alternated methodically between the flitting shadows of pagoda leaves cast onto the ivory desk, the reflection of her right eye in the small black mirror she held against her elbow, and an elderly man stooped on the cobblestone below her, attempting to feed two swans drifting glacially down the canal. It was 1:06 PM on June 23rd. She had not been outside of the predictable confines of her terraced home in the heart of Amsterdam in just over five weeks. Six months prior, Olivia had been tentatively diagnosed with severe anxiety and mood disturbances by a University appointed psychologist. “I haven’t ruled out Borderline or BPD. I think the best course of action would be for her to come in for weekly sessions, until she has settled back into a functional routine.” The psychologist had said to her mother. But she never did go back. To the psychologist, to the University, nor to the foyers of the dog owners whose quadruped life mates she had once joyously walked along the Prinsengracht. Invitations to student functions or dinner round her older brother’s flat were met with, “Thanks, but not today.” or “I’m too tired.” She stopped returning phone calls. And the few times her father had mustered the courage to inquire, she would say, “I’m waiting for the right time.”

Now, atop the windowsill, her heart leapt as the little black mirror buzzed and the glass lit up to reveal a message. Can’t wait to see you. The text read. She felt a rush of butterflies in her stomach. After selecting the blushing emoticon and hitting send, she hopped off the desk and scurried across the room to place a Dvorak record on her parent’s turntable. The divine introduction of Humoresque No. 7 permeated the stale air and Olivia lifted herself onto her toes and began to twirl about the room, her hands flitting from side to side in unison with the swelling
violins. She had dreamed of being a dancer ever since, at 4 years old, her mother had taken her to see the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House, but she had dropped out of lessons at the age of 9, having proclaimed to her parents that she hated dancing, harboring the truth that she was suffering panic attacks at the thought of performing in the class recital. Now, with fireplace as audience, she placed her feet in fifth position and lifted into a relevé before bowing delicately to a photograph on the mantel. A faded polaroid taken outside her first childhood home in Northwest London. In her back pocket, she felt the vibration of her phone.

“Hello.” She answered.

“Hey!!” It was Maggie.

“Hey.” Olivia said with a fragment of the enthusiasm.

“Hey, listen, what you doing tonight? I was thinking of coming by…I can make some fajitas for dinner and maybe we can watch the new Doctor Who episode.”

“I hate Doctor Who.” She replied, still standing on her tiptoes and waving a hand precariously at her reflection in the mirror above the mantel.

“Okay, well, it’s the best show in the universe, and I’m the one cooking dinner, so…”

“Yeah, no, I can’t tonight, I have a thing.”

“What do you mean, a thing?”

Olivia hesitated. “I have a date.”

Maggie was silent for a moment. Olivia heard the sounds of traffic and pedestrian chatter in the background. “A date? A date with who?”

“You wouldn’t know him. It’s someone I met on the internet.” Maggie paused again and her tone grew more concerned.

“Liv…I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be going out with some random person you met online. That sounds sketchy as hell.”

Olivia laughed. “He’s not sketchy at all. We’ve been talking for almost a month. He’s amazing. He’s the coolest, sweetest, smartest person and he’s taking me to dinner in NDSM.”

“He wants to take you to the industrial district? What’s his name?” Maggie asked.

“Rowan.”

“Rowan what?”

“I don’t know his last name.”

“How do you not know? Have you not asked him?” Maggie sighed heavily.

“You can’t just go meeting up with people that lurk on dating sites and hope that they’re not psychopaths. There’s people that prey on people like you, Liv. How ab-“

“Ugh, this is why I didn’t want to tell you about him. And he’s not random. He works as a TA at the University in the English department so Alex or Ollie might know him.” She felt the buzz of her phone against her ear and glanced at it to see a message from Rowan waiting. “Hey, listen, I gotta go. Love you! Bye!” She could hear Maggie’s voice faintly as she hung up. She opened the message from Rowan. Can’t stop thinking about you, gorgeous girl. 6 o’clock isn’t that far right? <3. She beamed at the words on the tiny screen and pranced to her bedroom to get ready.

Olivia spent 2 hours on her transformation. It was 3:23 PM by the time every strand of hair had been braided, unbraided, curled, tussled, pinned, and finally, sprayed and left down. She had watched countless make-up tutorials online over the last several months of seclusion and could easily perfect a dazzling smokey eye and a stained, matte lip. She selected a pair of patent leather pumps from her mother’s closet, and a gold, floral patterned velvet dress she had purchased online from a Polish retailer that made clothing inspired by the painter Gustav Klimt. You’re like the girl crying golden tears. Beautiful. Clean. Exquisite. Rowan had commented on one of her photos online. She pulled out a pale lilac faux fur coat from a hanger in her closet, and examined her reflection one last time. In the corner of the mirror she had taped a small picture of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. My very own Botticelli goddess. She smiled as she recalled the text he had sent, and hopped down the stairs and out into a warm afternoon breeze.

Her mother had suggested she take short walks in the neighborhood with her iPod as a first step to reacquainting herself with the world. She had made a playlist specifically for this day and titled it, ‘Rowan & Olivia’ and eagerly selected the first song. A cover of ‘Moon River’ by the Honey Trees began to play in her ears. Olivia loved having earbuds because she loved the idea of secret music. She squinted in the glowing sunlight and strutted as confidently as she could manage across the canal, past a long row of ornate lampposts and down a narrow side street towards the Noorder Market district. Moooon River, wider than a mile, I’m crossing you in style.. someday. Her reflection drifted elegantly through the large shop windows of pastel colored boutiques. Two drifters, off to see the world, there’s such a lot of world to see.. She took three slow, deep, steady breaths and stepped into a petite corner café called De Rozen Hinde. Inside, the grasshopper mint walls contrasted perfectly with the soft orange hue of the dainty roses placed in glass jars of water on each of the marble tables. Circular windows opened out onto the quiet street and tiny origami paper cranes spun delicately from hanging strings tied to wooden rafters. In the corner beside the copper espresso bar, a narrow spiral staircase led up to an ovular oak door. The lone barista manning the establishment resembled Jesse Williams, an actor in Grey’s Anatomy that she and Maggie had once mutually lusted for. She requested a cappuccino from him and lowered herself into an armchair the color of a turquoise stone her aunt had given her as a pendant for her last birthday.

Olivia’s phone buzzed again. It was Maggie calling. She tapped the ‘ignore’ button, selected ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ from her playlist and opened the message thread from Rowan. Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars. She scrolled through and re-read her favorite messages.

Yeah, I’ve seen the whole trilogy. The original is still the best. I’m def a fan of Link later. We should go to Vienna. ☺
Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars.
Don’t disappear on me! Haha.
In other words, hold my hand.
In other words…baby kiss me. The Jesse Williams impersonator sauntered over and placed a cappuccino on the table.

“Dank je.” She smiled at him.

“Natuurlijk.” He winked before turning to return to his station. She scrolled further. June 17th, he had written, Next time you’re free to adventure, I’ll book us a cabin and bring the candles and rosewater. To which she had replied jokingly, Cool. I’ll bring the inappropriate films and illuminati party masks. On June 22nd, he had asked, When can I see you, baby? She had replied, As soon as I get caught up on my freelance work. I took too much on at once this month and I’m sorta drowning in articles I need to finish for a few online publications. This was the first time she had lied to him directly. As she sipped her cappuccino she was startled again by another call from her sister. She clicked on the silence button and left a 5 euro note under the porcelain saucer before stepping out into the street. The barista watched her as she left. He hoped he would see her again.

She turned the volume up on Paramore’s ‘The Only Exception’ and placed her hands in the pockets of her coat as she walked along the edge of the Market district towards the Amstel. It was only quarter to five but already the lampposts were reflecting like dozens of distant planets on the rippling water of the canal. The acoustic guitar rhythm seemed as though it had been made for the color of this sky. A lavender canvas hosting a cotton candy cloud party, with brilliant splashes of gemtones dancing across the horizon. And that was the day I promised I’d never sing of love if it does not exist, but darling, you are the only exception. Somehow, she had gotten lucky. She was a princess.

At 5:20 PM, she reached the ferry dock that would take her to NDSM Wharf, home to the Noorderlicht Café, where she would meet Rowan for the first time. She had imaged dozens of scenarios for their first meeting. Maybe there would be a staircase in the café, and she would be standing at the top when they first lock eyes. They would smile before she ran into his arms. Or maybe she would be sitting at a table and he would quietly tap on her shoulder and say, “Excuse me, miss but I’m looking for a beautiful girl I met in a dream. Could you help me find her?” But her favorite was that he would be waiting for her as she stepped off the ferry onto the platform with a bouquet of roses. They would kiss immediately and he would hold her hand as they walked sheepishly together into a romance that would last their lives.

“OLIVIA!”

She heard a voice tear through her melody and turned around to see Maggie barreling towards her from the station tunnel on her bicycle.

“DON’T GO!”

She rolled to a stop on the dock and dismounted her bike, leaning a hand on one knee and gasping to catch her breath.

Olivia’s face was like a marble statue. “What are you doing?” She looked down at her sister with a contemptuous glare.

“He lied to you, Liv! The guy’s a fake.” She straightened herself and placed a hand on Olivia’s shoulder. “Come back with me. I can explain on the way home. I’m sor-“

Olivia shoved Maggie’s arm away. “I’m not going with you. YOU go home. Get away from me.”

“You need to listen to me. This guy’s a fucking creep. You can’t go!”

“You don’t know him.”

“Neither do you.”

“YES I DO. And I didn’t ask for you to pry into my life so get the fuck away from me with this bullshit!” The ferry had docked and the passengers were beginning to board. Olivia turned and walked towards the boat. She felt a hand grab her by the arm.

“Just let me show yo-“

“No!” She yelled and shoved her as hard as she could. Maggie fell backwards and crashed into a 3 level bike rack. She screamed as four bikes from the upper level fell on top of her. Olivia stared as a group of cyclists surrounded her sister’s contorted body. There was blood running down the side of her face and scrapes all over her legs. Shallow tears welled in Olivia’s eyes as she turned towards the ferry and disappeared into the crowd of passengers.

She doesn’t know anything. She’s just jealous. She would try to ruin it. Olivia leaned against the railing on the front of the boat and watched the waves break against the hull. She turned up ‘Everybody’ by Ingrid Michaelson and sent a message to Rowan. On the ferry. ☺ See you soon
x

She tapped her heels together and counted the minutes on an enormous analog clock that hung above the rain shelter in the center of the boat. Open up your chest and let it in.. just let the love love love begin. Her phone remained on silent mode, but she checked the home screen every few minutes for a message from Rowan. There were 9 missed calls and 20 text messages. All from her mother, father, brothers, and Maggie. She wiped a tear away from her eyelid and sighed, watching the gap closing between the boat and the ferry dock. Her armpits were beginning to sweat. Finally, a message from Rowan appeared.

Hey love, I’m on the Zwarte Kat having a beer with some guys who are gonna be playing in a band at the Noorderlicht tonight. We’re just finishing up here so why don’t you head on over to us? It’s the big black and white boat at the end of the dock to your left as you’re coming off the ferry platform. Hurry over! I can’t wait to wrap my arms around you! Come in through the door on the back deck and down the stairs to the right and it’s the first door on the left! I’ll serenade you with a love song. ☺

At 6:12, the ferry docked at NDSM and the flurry of pedestrians and cyclists sprawled out like twilight honeybees into night, past the loading platforms and the rows of warehouses into the neighborhoods beyond the port. Olivia looked around at the graveyard of broken ship manufacturing parts littered at the edge of the lot. A maze of shipping containers were stacked in neat piles next to a dismembered, rusty crane, and beyond the towering warehouses with broken windows was a boardwalk leading to several small boats parked along a dock extending out into the Amstel.

Olivia read the message again. He’s in a boat with a band, she thought. The band that will be playing at the Noorderlicht Café while we have dinner. I’ll meet him there and then we’ll go to dinner. She typed, Ok <3 and hit send, and began to walk down the vast boardwalk to the black and white boat. She paused the music on her iPod as she stepped onto the deck and pulled open one of the heavy doors to the interior. As she walked down the hall and down the narrow staircase to the lower level, she listened for music, but heard nothing. She paused and looked down at the three doors ahead of her. Through the left one, she suddenly heard the strum of an acoustic guitar, followed by the muffled voices of several men. Olivia stood motionless and stared at the door. She pulled her phone from her pocket and opened the message thread from Maggie. Her eyes flitted over the waterfall of messages and caught on a few words.

Liar. Strange. Stop. Prey. Internet. Last. Love.

“I’m sorry.” She typed. And as she hit the send button, she heard the creaking of footsteps behind her.

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