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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 18: 29 Apr. 2023
Microfiction: 458 words
By Lorette C. Luzajic


—After Nude Behind the Curtain by Antoine Wiertz*

Nude Behind the Curtain: 1864 painting by Antoine Wiertz

Imagine it, the darkening skin, how she takes you farther into her hidden self. She glistens, all toasted pecan and cerise, as shiny as a polished stone, only supple, and soft. So generous with herself. He thinks how her pulse will quicken when she ultimately yields to him, how her breath will catch, hooking his lower lip between her teeth.

He loses himself in it for a moment, and then it’s gone. “What’s wrong?” she asks, after he turns away.

“Not now,” he says. “Let’s wait a while.”

From here, everything goes the way it always goes. “Is something wrong?” she asks, at first concerned. Then she pulls back, steps aside, reaches for something to cover her. “Did I do something wrong?” she asks next. Her cheekbones start to flush from rejection rather than fire. Her voice goes higher.

She doesn’t get it, and she can’t get it. She’ll think the same thing they all do, and he won’t defend himself or try to change her mind.

“You don’t like me, then,” she says, shimmying huffily into her jeans. He hadn’t even undressed her breasts. He regrets that. He won’t be here again, and could have at least waited to see them. He thinks of their weight in his hand, the black cherry nipples budding tightly in his mouth, and the picture sends a quick rush through his veins. But it fades fast. Oh, well.

He can’t tell her. He can’t tell anybody. This: how it’s only ever been him and his hand, all these years. He’s tried everything. Sweet young things. Experienced, hungry cougars. Motherly hookers. Kinky TikTokkers. Even, once, a girl he loved.

But nothing works when he’s not plugged in. It has always been the barrage of flickering images and grunts, each one flashing past faster than the one before, something new every second, a constant parade of novel bodies, each one taking it every which way, slick and slippery and spreadeagled. The rush, the splay, the spray, the gush. Every fresh thrust pounding through him.

The slow, sensual dance of being with the real girl doesn’t have that same hit. He feels like a programmed machine.

He wants this more than anything. The awkward sweetness of it. The softness, the kissing and touching, the easy laughter that will come later.

“Look, I’m sorry,” he says, fumbling a moment. “It’s not you, it’s me.” He aims a bland smile her way.

“Umm, yeah, you got that right,” she hisses. All that yield and give gone. “Don’t bother calling.”

She sweeps an angry swipe of scarlet gloss over her lips and smacks them together in the hall mirror before she goes. Slams the door hard behind her.

—From The Rope Artist, Lorette C. Luzajic’s latest ekphrastic collection

* Curator’s Note:

Nude Behind the Curtain (oil on canvas, before 1864) by Antoine Wiertz (1806-1865), Belgian painter, sculptor, lithographer, and art writer, is held by the Wiertz Museum in Brussels, Belgium.

The image above was downloaded from Wikimedia Commons in March 2023:

Lorette C. Luzajic
Issue 18 (29 April 2023)

reads, writes, publishes, edits, and teaches flash fiction and prose poetry. Her own fiction and prose poems have appeared in Ghost Parachute, The Disappointed Housewife, Bending Genres, Unbroken, Trampset, The Citron Review, Flash Boulevard, New Flash Fiction Review, and beyond. Her works have been nominated for Best of the Net, the Pushcart, Best Microfiction, and The Best Small Fictions. She won first place in a flash contest at MacQueen’s Quinterly. The author of two collections of small fictions, Pretty Time Machine and Winter in June, she has also acted as judge for the Tom Park Poetry Prize.

Lorette is the founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal devoted to literature inspired by visual art. She is also an award-winning neoexpressionist artist who works with collage and mixed media to create urban, abstract, pop, and surreal works. She has collectors in thirty countries so far. She is also passionately curious about art history, folk horror, ancient civilizations, artisan and tribal jewelry, and culinary lore, to name a few.

Visit her at: www.mixedupmedia.ca

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Two Must-Read Books by The Queen of Ekphrasis, commentary in MacQ-9 (August 2021) by Clare MacQueen, with links to additional resources

Featured Author: Lorette C. Luzajic at Blue Heron Review, with two of her prose poems (“Disappoint” and “The Piano Man”); plus “Poet as Pilgrim,” a review of Pretty Time Machine by Mary McCarthy (March 2020)

Fresh Strawberries, an ekphrastic prose poem in KYSO Flash (Issue 11, Spring 2019), nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize

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