From Fire, Sans Brolly

by Matt Gulley

It was raining under October outside the museum. Gabrielle and her date shared a cigarette in the cold. Cigarettes will burn at different rates depending on variables such as the density of the tobacco, the composition of the filter, and the strength of the vacuum applied by the twin bells of the lungs to the wet cavernous tower of the mouth. In the cold, this was not a leisurely pleasure but an attendant duty performed in the shelter of a high rounded corner of limestone at the top of the pavilion steps. As the ember drew to its concluding, Gabby’s date relayed a feeling from much earlier in the day, awaking in sweat having felt something real bad had happened, but failing to remember what, and while making conversation later with an acquaintance about a movie, not being able to parse if some part of that familiar-feeling discourse about the film had been a portion of a previous conversation with someone else, or if it had been part of the dream not remembered, and what a spacious sort of modern feeling that was. Yea said Gabby.

Disposing the butt into a marked hollow cone, the two entered the museum. Usually at this time of day it was closed, but this was a special Friday and the two could get food and drinks after at the new restaurant across the street, pouring in with the after-show crowd and those benighted whose party had never really stopped since it began.

First the two took the elevator to the third floor and walked about the wing for Modernism and Post-Modernism. Color and form, fields of bones, metal shelves ascending. Apartment interiors canted in green light, simple lines with sloppy composition of uncertain intent. Gabby winced as her date said how if people said their kids could paint this then they should be encouraged heartily to try, since it’s harder than it looks and it’s worth millions and millions of dollars. She half-expected balloons to fall from the ceiling as he would be the ten thousandth person to make the point. Some of the stuff does look like kids could paint it, and their primitiveness would at least be interesting. She then internally reversed herself, as she had made a point once to someone else that children could not be artists, and so perhaps there is a skill and meaning to imitating children. Bwuh! As the two stood in front of a large rusting figure, the placard to its side indicated it was completed this new century, and had really been done by a nameless assistant at a studio working for the artist. The two then had a halfway interesting conversation about authorship and where credit is due. The artist was very rich.

Gabby led the way into the next wing, the haunting religiousness of Europe on display in the season (of every large enough convenience store having an aisle reserved for orange plastic bowls and paper skeletons). Christ gaunt, eyes of spent masturbatattoir, landscapes screaming with small brown hamlets unaware of the foreground’s profundity. Such fine lines and hands to canvas of otherside some five hundred years. Gabby looked at one a long time. Gabby’s date looked at her, some one-third the size of the frame before her. Gabrielle Illiana something something, he recalled. Her hair was black and her boots had big blocky heels, like of girl, of feminine, but of combat. Her nose was big puffy triangles meeting like inside a cabin’s high ceiling and he surmised it contained much wisdom, and it had a ring in it.

They would be married by spring. Winter bore them both such undiscovered country, and their respective apartments were small horrible places where wind got in and it was never the right time to clean it up but clothes and landfill stuff makes some unhappy place something hard to wake up from.

“Do you want to go get drinks?”

“Not yet.”

It was hard to tell whom was speaking.

Around the corner was prehistory. Aztec figurines, BC dated, artist unknown. The two came up to a white block supporting a glass cube. On the inside of the glass stood a blue stone doll. Eyes of fear, little teeth even, rigid erect hand out. Angry and flung forward what must seem like a million years. So the date put his hand down and out, feeling for someone else’s fingers to be there.


Matt Gulley is thirty-five years old. He attended Wayne State University in Detroit and the MFA program at Long Island University in Brooklyn. He currently resides in Brooklyn with his partner Jenna. Recently published in The Madrigal, The Twin Bill, Blood Tree Literature, The London Reader, Defunct Magazine, and Sunspot Literary Journal. @selfawareroomba on twitter dot com

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction

One response to “From Fire, Sans Brolly

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the importance of using a brolly in the face of fire. I think you make a great point that it can be difficult to remember to use a brolly when in the midst of a fire. However, I believe that if we take the time to pause and think about the potential consequences of not using a brolly, it can act as a reminder to use one. Additionally, I think that having access to the right safety gear can be a major factor in using a brolly, as many people may not have access to one when they need it. By making sure that everyone has access to the right safety gear, we can help ensure that people are able to use a brolly when they need it.

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