High Culture (flash fiction)

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It’s a Klimt. I think that’s how it’s spelled. It’s called “The Kiss”. In fourth grade, I was on a field trip with my class to the art museum. The curator said it is known as the most romantic painting in history. That seemed like a stretch to me, even then. But when I was twenty-four, a guy was selling art out of the trunk of his car. I figured it fell off a truck some time back. Eighty dollars. That was the charge for a framed print of the painting that I’d long forgotten, but upon sight, the memory of the curator’s comments came rushing back to me. Sixty, I said and we agreed. I’ve had it ever since, rescuing it from the trunk or being bought by a less cultured individual. It has moved with me all over the country. I’ve never lost it, which is commendable, if you only knew me.

I’ve stared at that print of a painting endless hours, studying the woman whose feet are wrapped in vines, soft and supple all over, with round spheres dancing upon her gold dress as she embraces her lover, full of geometric squares that build his black and golden coat. He turns his head down and away to kiss her creamy cheek, as his hand cups her chin and turns it upward towards his kiss, her eyes closed. They are wrapped together in a golden light on the green grass strewn with a tiny field flowers.

I’ve never understood their romance.

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