Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mag 59 - Poise was her art form

Julianne was in love with the smell of his cologne, a rich ether that hung in the elevator indicating that he had just been on board. When she first detected the special essence she thought it might be from the leather accents inside the elevator, the padded railing running along the three walls that hit just at the small of her back, the cushioned panel displaying the selection buttons. Warm leather was definitely in the mix, along with fine silver. A touch of carnation maybe, and a dash of spicy pepper. All smoked over alder chips outside in fresh mountain air.

His scent was not there everyday, not in the particular elevator she always took that was first on the right from the main door. The building was large with eight elevators, four on either side of the lobby, and the rush of people followed elevator chimes so he could be in that crowd quick-stepping toward any of the other seven elevators. Or he could have a different schedule than Julianne's standard hours. Or maybe he didn't work in this building at all and only occasionally had business in one of the offices on one of the 47 floors. She wondered about such things.

Julianne anticipated the next time and the next, as spring turned to summer and then summer was overtaken by an early autumn. She was caught off-guard by the chill one morning in late September. Her assistant had taken Julianne's coats to the dry cleaner in preparation for the colder weather ahead but had thoughtfully placed some folded pashmina shawls on the table in her apartment entryway for Julianne to grab should she need an extra layer. They were arranged alphabetically by color, making it easy for Julianne to finger through them. That morning, she selected the brown pashmina to coordinate with her copper-colored top. She wore her hair loose that day, and, while waiting for the bus in front of her apartment building she was grateful the news was correct about a lack of wind accompanying the crisp turn in the weather.

With no wind, then why the electric feeling in the air? - she wondered as she got off the bus a half block from her office. People brushed by her, some apologizing after they passed by, but her pace remained a graceful gait. Julianne practiced poise in everything she did in life; she made it her art form. Her family said that even her smile was one of poise. Some friends called her smile wistful. Her closest friends knew it as yearning.

Her morning was timed so that she avoided the frantic rushing toward elevator chimes that would overtake the lobby five or ten minutes later. She gauged the number of people in that space by the sound of their steps on the marble floor and by conversations, cell phones, general fidgeting in place. There were not so many that morning, maybe 15 people - all using other elevators that arrived on the first floor ahead of her regular ride. When hers chimed and the doors opened she entered on the side closest to the selection panel and dusted a button gently with two fingers, verifying the raised dots in the center that indicated her floor. From the main lobby doors a male voice called, "Wait! Hold that elevator!" -- and he was quickly inside with her, adding a genuine, "Thanks much."

If she had been the type she would have swooned. If she had been the type she would have said that she loved his cologne and asked the man what it was. If she had been the type she would have flirted with excitement to have him all alone with her in that small space after dreaming for so long of such a happening. But Julianne was none of those. She was the woman who took a quiet deep inhalation while resting the small of her back securely against the leather padded railing, who exhaled softly as the next piece of elevator music began. Julianne folded her hands against the softness of her shawl and smiled into the darkness.

MLydiaM ~ March 2011

This work of fiction is inspired by a photo prompt by Tess Kincaid at Magpie Tales.
I dedicate my vignette to the former Oregon School for the Blind, the destruction of which is nearly total at the time of this post.

To read about sale of former Oregon School for the Blind to Salem Hospital click here.



Anonymous said...

Lovely piece here Lydia!

ds said...

Wonderful story, the details of Julianne's condition unfolding subtly throughout. I was gripped from beginning to end. Great magpie!

So sorry about the demolition-- what will go up in its place?

susan said...

Very subtly done. Why am I so sure he became fascinated with her in turn and who knows where that lead?

I'm sorry to read about the destruction of the school.

Helen said...

Living in Oregon I am well aware of what has happened to the school for the blind .... your prose is an amazing, beautifully written tribute to this place where so many have been helped.

Dee Newman said...

You had me from the get-go . . . well written.

Lucy Westenra said...

Lovely treatment of her acute sense of smell. Very well written.

Lydia said...

Jane~ Hello there and thank you. :)

ds~ I appreciate your so kind comments. In response to your question about what is to go in place of the school I added a final link at the bottom of the post. It tells of the sale to Salem Hospital, which plans on making a parking lot on a portion of the property. I just hope the hospital is sensitive to the mature far the demolition company has worked around the trees which is impressive.

susan~ I think there was a good chance the story would take that turn, too!
Ah, it is so sad to see the end of the school. Although I have tried to see all points of view, I do believe this is a mistake to dissolve it altogether.

Helen~ I am touched by your comment. We seem to be on the same page in our appreciation for all the School for the Blind gave in service to its community. So many years... from 1873 to 2009. My husband and I recently saw old photographs of Salem in which the School for the Blind is among the very few buildings. Wikipedia says that this site was built in 1881 after having held classes in a private home until then.

Personally, I wish that Willamette University had been the ultimate buyer. Hospitals all over are in for big land grabs in their attempts to outdo one another and I find it offensive. :(

Dee Newman~ Thank you so much!

Lucy Westenra~ I appreciate that. Certainly loved your hilarious magpie.

Dave King said...

The writing is as wonderful as the cause to which you have dedicated it. What more can I say?

Jennifer said...

This was a great read. :)

Jingle said...

cool shots..

love the ending, bless her..

Lydia said...

Dave King~ Your comment meant a lot to me this day. Thank you.

Jennifer~ Glad you liked it, Superstar......{HEY,EVERYONE: Jennifer's great blog was recently awarded as a Blog of Note.}

Jingle~ Yes, bless her and all the ones who must maneuver a sighted, hearing, "normal" society.

Paul C said...

What an alluring and sensual story and poignant tribute.

Lydia said...

Paul C~ Thank you for your lovely comments.

Kathe W. said...

this is lovely- I could close my eyes and see the whle story.

Trellissimo said...

An unusual take on the Magpie...Thanks!

Rob-bear said...

True; Julianne was poised. But that may have been her long-term undoing. A case where, perhaps, to much of a good thing wasn't so good.

But Julianne will have to figure out that herself. You will help her, won't you? Give her some space, time, and alternate experiences?

Loved the story; pained to hear of the school's demise.

Short Poems said...

This was a great read, love the ending. Great blog. Enjoyed it :)
Take care

Lydia said...

Kathe W~ Thank you so much. :)

Trellissimo~ I'll take "unusual"! :)

Rob-bear~ Thank you, bear. Interesting that you suggest more for Julianne. The idea intrigues me....
I am pained by it, too. And I wonder about the former students who were, well, basically forced to attend public schools as a result of the closure. No doubt some are doing fine. No doubt others will have a difficult time of it. (So much will depend upon their new peers and teachers.)

Short Poems~ I appreciate your visit and comments. Must say that the title of your moniker (perhaps your blog title) is intriguing to me. I will be by.

bfk said...

Lovely story, Lydia. Who knew elevators could be that fraught? And it's the exception to the political rule that Americans lack a sense of smell.

Lydia said...

bfk~ Thanks, you. Your political rule just cracked me up, of course.



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