A picture speaks a thousand words. Or in this case, under two hundred. Inspired by the image below, our features team wrote three tiny stories giving life to what they saw.
Under an autumn, apricot sky, Ivy ate clementines and leafed through her favorite picture book—Miss Eloise’s Drawings of Spectacular Beasts and Beauties: Volume 1. Knees up, Ivy balanced the children’s book between her legs, alternating between flipping its illustrated pages and peeling the skin off her fruit. As she ate, orbs of juice often escaped her lips, landing on the images before her: the caged snow leopard; the mermaid; the fierce two-headed serpent; and—her favorite—the upside-down woman with closed eyes, bright cheeks, and a cascading waterfall of hair.
Whenever she saw the image of the woman, Ivy felt captivated by her sense of peace. Her meditative stillness. Suddenly drifting into thought about the generations of women in her own life—all hardened and wrinkled by sacrifice and men—Ivy vowed to never mirror their smileless faces. Instead, Ivy longed to be like the upside-down woman in her picture book: unwinding and carefree.
The girl has come to the river to rest, undoing the neat, tight pins that have kept her locks hidden underneath her maid’s bonnet. In the early evening light, she climbs onto a low-hanging tree branch extending the width of the river, nimbly undoing her gown and undergarments with the intention of submerging herself. But first she must listen. Leaning back, she feels her cheeks blossom as rivulets of hair immediately unfurl, cascading like a waterfall onto the gentle course beneath. The sunlight fades behind the verdure of the forest, and in that moment the world slows and she is finally able to close her eyes. The girl recalls the events of the day, but not the routine of her tasks or the family now awaiting her arrival for supper. She decides it is time.
Lili floats in the smoke of memories. Past details are enveloped in the veil of a dream, except for the touch on her hair. The warmth of Rozie’s hand changes into a water flow. Lili’s cheeks bloom from imagining Rozie’s face pressed against hers. Even if Rozie now seems like an anecdote from a long time ago, Lili still blushes when she thinks about her, everything else fading in color. That first love was as humid as the summer. Now, Lili’s world has turned upside down. She lies there in the shadows, trying to figure out what she wants. Her being feels so light. She opens her lips to breathe in the thin air. Her head is like a waterfall, uncontrollably falling.