Fiction 2015

How Not to Fall in Love in an Art Museum with the Person Standing Next to You Looking at the Same Painting

By: Anna Sharp

As you stand there, heads cocked to the right, and you gaze at the painting and you gaze at him gazing at the painting as if he too would be flat and rough to the touch and an alarm would sound if your breath on his skin was too hot, try not to imagine the words he would say to your mother when you are in the next room looking for those blue shoes and he is at the kitchen table in the chair he knows is your chair because he has joined you for family dinners too many Sundays to count now. Instead, imagine the queasy way he would look at you when you, naked and small after sex, trust him enough to tell him your mother is divorcing your father for a woman she met in her yoga class.

And when he turns to you and gestures toward the painting and says I don’t get this, do you? Tell him about your mother and how secretly happy for her you are but don’t stay to hear his response because you could never fall in love with him after all. Move on to the next painting, stand next to a different man.