TITLE: Artistry of Engagement
GENRE: Women’s Fiction
The July heat simmered on Rome’s Via Margutta and rose to the balcony of Hermina Jorgenson's apartment like the fumes of Hell. She tossed the latest issue of Artista Ufficiale to the foot of her chaise, the magazine whose scathing review of her own column in the Times had left her smarting just weeks ago. She’d learned quickly that in the opulent exhibition openings overflowing with Rembrandts and Rafaels, everyone smiles, laughs, toasts the patrons, but it is all a charade.
She wiped the sweat from her brow and reached for the tall glass of ice water on the table next to her.
The table that caught the cannoli crumbs from countless late nights after the theater with Guillaume.
The table that bore the deep, sugary rings of his Frascati wine.
The table that reminded her of that ghastly first haggling experience with him at the Porta Portese.
Images of him stretched out on this very chaise ran riotous through her head. She snorted, tipped her glass. She’d decided against cutting his face out of photos, but tore from her album those of the two lovers – now nothing more than interlopers -- standing near a stone bridge whose roses scaled it in reckless abandon, and stuffed them into the oxidized copper box with the thousand dents. She locked the box, shoved it to the back of her tiny closet. Though she’d throw piles of clothes and the occasional shoe at it, she could never make the box disappear.
That box. Pandora’s box.