Fiction

Reflected Light: Novel Excerpt

Lucia pushed her half-full plate away and surveyed the Lauterbrunnen countryside from the Staubbach third-floor restaurant. The waiter stacked her plate on Willem’s Willem ordered fruit, cheese, and a glass of Malvasier. Lucia ordered peppermint tea.

“I thought if I took the initiative, you might change your mind,” she said.

From the second-floor window they watched the clouds move on just as the sun set. A massive wash of mauve sky surrounded Staubbach Falls on the opposite side of  Lauterbrunnen Valley. They watched as the valley lit up cherry red below a bank of pink clouds.

“Reflected light fascinates me now,” Lucia said.

“I’ve lost my taste for sunsets,” Willem said as he opened the menu. “More idyllic photographs of the Alps we don’t need.“ After her extended silence he asked,  “Are you getting ready to leave?”

She didn’t answer. It was her turn to stare at the menu.

“Sometimes it feels like you’ve left already,” he said.

She had heard Willem’s story and he had heard hers, but they seldom took each other’s advice these days. They’d weren't able to listen to each other without the old anger in the middle like a third leg of the tripod which their relationship had always wobbled on.

“Many women artists succeed at both. Their motherhood feeds their work.”

Willem leaned toward the window and squinted. “Someone’s belaying down the face of that mountain.”

“In the dark?”

“He uses the light on the Swiss flag.”

“That swinging orange thing?”

“Everybody’s a climber these days.”

The faint moon rose above the mountain. She emptied her tea cup. “I’m ready for bed.”

“Twain said, ‘Everyone’s a moon, has a dark side he never show’s anybody.”

She turned to walk back to the room. He signed the check.

She undressed and crawled into bed immediately. He didn’t appear until much later, wearing the faint smell of port. They slept fitfully, side by side, but refusing to touch, their backs to each other most of the night. In the early morning she curled around him. He opened his arms to her.

©Kate Hallett Dayton

Phantasmagoria

Volume 7 Number 1

Published in Available Light.
Kate Hallett Dayton

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