He must have loved her. Perhaps he admired her from afar, in the dark of the audience that glowed with white shirt fronts and a paint box of diamonds: white, yellow, pink. Maybe she was a dancer, raising her skirts a pretty inch or two, ankles balanced in a naive ballet. She might have sang – in a voice that was pale and light, lilting to the ceiling of the theater like a bird hiding in a cloud.
She wasn’t a beautiful girl. But she had the purity of a child beneath her feathers, bows and tassels. Her face hadn’t lost the roundness of youth; its soft haven shining through the sepia distance of four generations. Her smile was endearing, offering a lover friendship only – because it was all she knew.
However, her waist was small enough to make a gentleman sentimental.
Affection drove someone to buy her image. He might have seen her in a shop window, somewhat overshadowed by the beauties of the day: Lillie, Daisy, Cleo, Patsy, Jennie. But for him the gentle acreage of her features was an irresistible country. He bought her for a penny.
He wanted to add to her winsome loveliness. He hadn’t been able to wait outside the theater with an armful of red roses, full of blood and promises. He had no Cartier bracelets to dangle above her plump hands.
Yet he had to give his pretty girl something; something to make her shine even more, to make her gown sparkle in the light with every dainty, hobbled step she took. So with a pot of paste and glitter, he adorned her dress, her hat, her necklace. Patterns of glue were traced across the fabric, followed by a shower of glitter which dazzled like escaping stars.
His efforts have dimmed with the years, yet the measure of his admiration remains. The meek decoration of her unknown admirer lives on.
Whomever he was, he must have loved her.