Languidly I strolled through the gallery, my steps resounding through the pale halls as I paced the chequered floors. I glanced at the exhibits at random.
I arrived into a large room filled with Hellenistic sculptures. Heroes, deities and fabulous beasts frozen in motion by a prolific, merciless hand. All was form; their immaculate features stripped of all and any character. Eyes blank; gestures and energy locked in eternal obeisance to their creator’s will. Brilliantly executed, but of little interest to me. I let a fanciful finger linger on one and kissed another, but they remained dead.
But at the end of the room hung a picture that captured my undivided attention. It was a representation of a large eye. An eye that stared with painful intensity from a bright azure sky. Its lashes were pale and lavish and its iris was a luminous grey, speckled with greens and golds. Behind it were delicate, threaded cloud formations; so fine that they almost seemed to move and to shimmer in the glow of an undisclosed sun. But most of all, it was its expression that held me intrigued. It seemed to say, nothing you do or say will alter my situation; I am beyond all measures of consolation. It was weeping. A still ocean of tears had formed itself beneath it, threatening to overflow the picture frame.
To my surprise, I noted three little devils in the picture too. They were very small, just barely noticeable. I doubt that I would have noticed them at all, if not one of them had made an artistic, but very noisy dive into the sea of tears whilst I was studying the painting.
I peered closer. On the surface, the devils looked much as one would expect: crimson black, with spiked horns and tails and elegant goatees. These were wearing swimming trunks, though, with tiny hearts and teddy bears on them, and were grinning like corny toothpaste commercials. And they did not have hoofs, but exceptionally large feet with elongated toes and painted nails. Their eyes were very large, all blue with no whites, but otherwise distinctly human.
The devil that had dived into the tears commenced to float on its back, spewing tears in a high arch into the air and paddling around in circles with the efficiency of a motor boat. ‘Brooom!’ it was humming to itself. It looked very comfortable and I did not care to disturb it, so I turned to the second devil.
The second devil was rather preoccupied too, however. It had been nibbling at the eyeball and had managed to claw a succulent piece from it. It ate contentedly, juice trickling down its chin, licking its fingers and shuddering with pleasure.
‘Throw me a chunk, bro’!’ yelled the devil in the tears. The munching devil dug in with its claws and acquired another morsel. The eye was by now bleeding more than it was weeping and an ugly, oily, crimson patch had begun to form on the ocean’s surface.
I turned to the last devil who was dozing in one corner of the eye, dangling one scrawny leg over the edge and flicking a toothpick about in its mouth. It was grinning diabolically – how else, now I come to think of it? – in the midst of what appeared to be a delicious, rapacious daydream. I cleared my throat in order to obtain its attention. It opened its eyes to a slit and on sighting me, sat up promptly and smiled – at least, I presume it was meant to be a smile.
© 1994, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2010, 2019 Kirstin Sørensen