Tales from the Gallery #I : Ventricle

One afternoon I had nothing to do. That is to say, nothing I found worth my while. So I made my way to the gallery.

Downtown, activity was practically nil. A fog, thick and creamy, had descended on the city. The cool humidity pricked away at my skin like so many fairy fingers poking me. Wisps swirled and scurried before me, only to resettle a moment later in my wake as though I had never been there. A breeze blew up and scattered the density, revealing landmarks, and the remains of a carnival. Downtrodden confetti and streamers, deflated balloons and other festive artefacts lay strewn in the streets along with broken bottles, half-eaten foods and the odd, forsaken garment. A t-shirt; a brazeer; a shoe. Someone had fun. Banners hung limp across the streets, their legends anonymous in the fog. I would not have known they were there had it not been for the sound of the lazy beat and flap of the canvas overhead. Shadowy figures would from time to time materialize from out the fog, only to disintegrate a moment later. The streetlights were lit, but their arguments were poor. The fog prevailed.

The fog’s density in the green area around the building was extreme. The gallery grounds lie lower than the streets and the stately structures that flank them. Paths and lawn lean down to the bottom of the basin where a quantity of bushes, including some lavish flesh coloured rose, grow at the feet of a scattered group of deciduous trees. These have been allowed to grow tall and scored and crooked, spreading their branches across lawn and path, bush and gallery facade. On bright days this brings on a subtle play of shadows throughout; in the hot season the gallery grounds are a refuge of cool patches and soft green lights. Indeed, it would be quite a charming place, if not for the gallery. The gallery is one of these concrete monsters, seemingly isolate, though situated in the very heart of the city, with minuscule windows regimented in a row and out of reach, and an entrance remarkably Neolithic. Hardly even a building, it looks and feels unfinished – a huge stone slab deserted by its sculptor before he even had conceived its nature and who, disillusioned by the enormity of the project, discarded the entire idea.

Well, anyway, at the time I arrived, this fog had the gallery grounds firmly in its grasp and had nestled there thicker than anywhere else, as fog will in lowlands. I had to watch my step in order to keep to the path that led to the entrance and when I did let my gaze stray, I saw bushes and tree trunks partly consumed by fog and leaves and rosebuds coming out of nowhere. Several times was I torn by thorns and twigs that dwelt unseen behind the grey cotton air.

Having followed the full length of the path, I was abruptly confronted with the towering entrance. I entered through the portal and descended the steps. The gallery is always open.

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