The Sleeping Iris
We enjoyed a perfect spring weekend here in southern Louisiana, aside from some very strong gusts of wind. On Saturday, I was out at a local business, the Tin Roof Brewing Co, for an art market: Froggy Mo Art Hop.
One of my customers seemed unusually happy to find me, saying that she'd bought art from me like five years ago and hadn't been able to find me since. She'd bought a print of a pink elephant woman (Call Me, Sweetheart). She'd given the print away as a gift and regretted it ever since.
She went carefully through both bins of prints, pulling out the Gentleman Hellephant (the second of my two Victorian elephant pieces). She finally pulled out an altered portrait of Evelyn Nesbit (Drowned) and put back Gentleman Hellephant.
Her friend asked her why she was putting back the elephant print as she'd said that she'd regretted giving away the original.
"It's simple," she answered. "That artwork was who I was. This (Evelyn Nesbit) is who I am."
I really liked how she knew how important it is to know that we are constantly evolving and changing so why wouldn't our taste in artwork also change? (Don't be afraid to buy and hang brand new pieces every now and again. It's your space. Enjoy it!)
Spring is often a time for beautiful weather and the promise of new growth and change. I'm working at stretching my leaves a little and working on a new piece of short fiction which grows with my new Bloom Where You're Planted Oracle Deck. Don't be afraid to grow and change. Write your own myths and embrace your personal journey.
Part I of Iris Sleeping
Iris woke, stiff. From overhead came the constant rumble of the unending stream of traffic on the interstate above her. She slowly eased out of the cramped ball position she'd assumed in the night, struggling to stay warm. Her outer layer, a silver mylar blanket, crinkled gently in response.
Even in southern Louisiana spring nights could easily drop into the thirties or forties.
Iris commando crawled from her deep recess beneath the interstate bridge, moving slowly down the ramp as she eased into a sitting position.
Methodically, she folded up the mylar blanket and then the thick, plush towel beneath and tucked them both into the olive green backpack that always doubled as her pillow.
Everything tidied, she crawled back to her sleeping place and located a half-full water bottle to clear out the worst of her morning dry mouth. She also found the crumpled paper bag that contained the last of the stale donut that she'd had for dinner the night before. The leftovers were even staler but retained a bit of its sweet glaze.
She scratched absently on her close-cropped hair. She'd resisted the urge for weeks to cut it all off but ultimately decided that trying to maintain her thick, dark hair was just too much work. Shaved, her grooming routine fell to less than a five-minute stop in a public restroom.
Shouldering her pack, she slid down the ramp until she could safely stand. She headed toward the off-ramp in the distance with its promise of a gas station or two and possibly a fast food restaurant.
She preferred indoor plumbing and wanted a quick sink bath as she liked feeling as clean and fresh as she could.
* * * * * * * * *
After completing her morning bathroom routine, Iris sat down on the curb furthest from the gas station door. No point in drawing any negative attention from the cashier.
She focussed her attention on the loose change in her palm, wondering if she could treat herself to a bottle of water as well as a day-old pastry.
A pair of large, booted feet and a small pair of ballerina flats walked by her and then stopped a few feet away.
Iris realized that she was being observed and talked about. Reluctantly, she looked up, meeting the intense gaze of a large, dark bearded man. Beside him was a small slender woman, possibly in her early to late twenties. Her expression looked worried, darting from the face of the man beside her to Iris and then back again. The young woman hissed something into the man's ear and then pulled him toward the entrance of the gas station.
Iris stretched leisurely, really enjoying the physical movement. The day stretched out before her, open and unplanned. Should she start with a little busking on the corner?
In her ragged clothes with her shorn head, she knew she appeared younger and more vulnerable than her nineteen years.
"Young lady," called out the couple, reemerging from the interior of the gas station. The slim young woman held up a small bag and an iced coffee. In almost a sing-song voice, she added, "We got you beignets."
iris stood slowly up, taking the offered bag and the iced coffee. "Thank you," she answered a little uncertainly. She bit hungrily into the powdered donut and then quickly gulped down a few mouthfuls of the iced coffee, thinking it tasted a little sweeter than she usually liked her coffee.
"Would you like a job?" the burly man demanded.
"What kind?" Iris asked warily, not surprised there had to be a catch to their generosity. She gulped down more of the coffee and sunk her teeth back into the beignet, half-expecting them to try to take back her breakfast treats.
"Make a delivery for me," the man answered, sounding amused.
Iris narrowed her eyes over the lid of her coffee cup, realizing that something felt off. She felt an unexpected rush of dizziness. The beignet bag and the iced coffee fell out of her suddenly nerveless fingers. What had been in that coffee?
* * * * * * * * *
I realize that I am leading with a sort of true crime vibe, but the story will be shifting into "myth-making" mode in part II.
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