Here’s another excerpt from my current writing project, It Was Her Eyes. You can learn more about the story and the project at https://imaginingsofagratefulman.com
I noticed her the moment I walked into the guest bedroom of a friends’ home I was visiting for the first time. How could I not? She was stretched out on a long scarlet velvet chaise, lying on her side facing me with the most impossibly seductive look I’d ever seen. I couldn’t keep from staring at her.
“It’s her eyes.” The voice that tore me from my reverie was of my friend’s wife, Cheryl, who stood next to me. She repeated with a chuckle and a knowing smile, “It’s her eyes. They seem to follow you wherever you are in the room.” I nodded. Cheryl was partially right. It was her eyes, but not just because they seemed to follow us as we moved in the room. It was far more than that.
The enchantress we were discussing was the stunning focal point not just of the painting she was in, but also of the whole room. She faced the bed in which I’d soon be sleeping. The raven-haired beauty appeared to be about my age, but her eyes seemed so much older. She laid in an opulent room in what I imagined might be a grand mansion in Mexico or the U.S. near the border. Based on other clues in the painting I guessed that the period depicted was long ago, perhaps shortly after the U.S. Civil War.
I couldn’t keep from staring at her.
After my hostess bade me goodnight, I stood mesmerized by the painted woman, staring at the most intriguing eyes I’d ever seen. Beneath their irresistible come-hither invitation, it was as though I could see into the depths of her soul and could feel everything she felt. They spoke of lost innocence, regret, pain, and desperation.
With growing sadness, I sensed she had once been an innocent young girl with a vibrant, beautiful spirit, but was now trapped by circumstances beyond her control. I somehow knew her innocence had been stolen from her, and her spirit had been greatly diminished by a lifetime of hardship and ugliness compressed into her too few years.
Her eyes showed she was fiercely, desperately, clinging to her last vestiges of hope. But they held another, more painful message. She thought her battle was a lost cause, as though she’d sunk so low she was beyond saving, and would soon be beyond caring.
I wondered what had given her the strength to fight for so long.
Then I felt something else from those eyes. A desperate cry for help.
PS While the story is fiction, the painting I describe is real and was in the guest bedroom of a home in which I visited some years ago. It is a powerful and evocative portrait of a beautiful, mysterious, young woman.