He first saw her at the New York museum of art as she stood beside a painting of French ballet dancers, the sun cascading down her back and framing her as a singular dark figure against the canvas. Ethel, a stunning beauty, who turned, her face a light, to steal his breath and bind his heart. But of course, as your mind already foretold, Ethel did not see Benjamin Javian, she only saw past him.
Benjamin did not approach Ethel and took the fact that she had looked but not seen him as a lack of eyesight on her part. Not willing to believe that he was just a painter and nothing more. But he followed her, even though he knew it to be a pathetic attempt, he just could not help himself. He wanted to know her, to watch her just a little longer. And perhaps, if he could work up the courage, even speak with her.
“Ethel!” An elderly women in a long crimson fur coat called to Ethel form beside the pillar she was leaning faintly against. Ethel saw her pale face and hurried over. Benjamin watched as Ethel ambled gracefully to the women’s side. A dancers stride.
“Grammy! Oh Grammy!” She said with the most elegant of French accents. The women leant heavily against her.
“I should get home dear.” She said and Ethel nodded, her bottle green eyes sympathetic.
“Oui, oui !” And she began leading the frail women through the tall arched building, searching for an exit. Benjamin, fighting anxiously with himself, struggled to keep his distance as he watched her long black hair swaying gently, almost reaching the small of her back. He knew, especially if her grandmother was ill, that he should point them in the correct direction for a way out. But every step closer he took the more nervous he became. In the end he missed his chance. Ethel waved hastily towards a man in his forties. The man saw Ethel, took in her long slender figure, innocent dark hair and captivating eyes and smiled to himself. Benjamin could only imagine what was on the mans mind. The pair edged towards him, but to the mans dismay it was the grandmother that spoke.
“Sir, you haven’t happened across an exit some way down have you?”
The man smiled more broadly, looking at Ethel first and then the grandmother.
“Why yes. Not too far down, I’ll lead you.” He took the grandmothers free arm and help escort her. he did this all with a fake charm that turned Benjamin’s stomach. As he continued to duplicate their every step.
The man chatted causally to Ethel. The grandmother petite between them. He wasn’t at all handsome.
“Hank Wilkinson” He said and offered his hand over the grandmothers head. Ethel shook and nodded.
“Ethel, Louisa.” She replied sweetly.
Detestable Hank smiled. “A pleasure to meet you Ethel Louisa. And what a pretty name I might add.”
But Ethel shook her head quickly. “Ethel!” She pointed to herself. “Louisa” She kissed her little grandmothers head.
Hank caught on. “Oh, I see. You do not speak English. Spanish?” He asked.
Ethel shock her head again and her eyes traced the sudden sunlight to the main entrance way. Benjamin smiled. He could tell by the way she turned away from Hank that she didn’t much like him. Hank however continued cheerfully.
“Ah… German? “ He asked. Ethel shook he head again. And paused for a moment. “French! Merci beaucoup pour votre aide. Good day.”
Hank mightn’t have understood the in-between but the last word was precise. He stopped dead and stared after Ethel, who nodded and hurried away, her grandmother a collapsing weight against her. Benjamin Rubbed shoulders arrogantly with Hank as he walked past.
“Nice try” He muttered under his breath but was sure a pouting Hank had still heard him.