For her birthday, tirahsmommy asked me to write a fic inspired by Lewis Latimer’s “Ebon Venus”:
"Let others boast of maidens fair,
Of eyes of blue and golden hair;
My heart like needles ever true
Turns to the maid of ebon hue.
I love her form of matchless grace,
The dark brown beauty of her face,
Her lips that speak of love’s delight,
Her eyes that gleam as stars at night.
O’er marble Venus let them rage,
Who sets the fashions of the age;
Each to his taste, but as for me,
My Venus shall be ebony.”
He hadn’t expected her to acquiesce. At least not so quickly. But she agreed to be his muse at once.
“Sure, why not? Kind of has a sexy Titanic vibe.”
“In what way is this similar to a
tragic oceanic disaster?”
She had rolled her eyes and added
the name to her long, long list of films he must view.
He staged her before a fire banked
to mere embers. A repurposed bed linen was draped across her breasts and over
her cradle like a goddess of old. The ever-changing shadows transformed her
very body into a glowing coal, now luminous, now cast into deepest, loveliest shadow.
“You do this a lot? This how dudes
picked up chicks back in the day?”
“A gentleman never sketches and
It was true, he had some mild
talent for the art, aided by his exacting memory, and ladies seemed to
appreciate even his clumsiest attempts. Yet never before had he rendered a
subject quite so dear to him as the lieutenant. Nor a lady whose skin was
burnished by sunny African skies instead of gloomy European prospects.
As he drew, he fell into
an almost prayerful state, that moment when his own self seemed to fall away
until he was something more, something nearly divine. There was only the soft
shush of charcoal against thick paper, the crackle of flames, and the
beautiful, beloved woman before him.
Each line was inscribed with
precise care. The horizon of an eyelid, the swell of a breast, the fine haze of
delicate hairs at her temples, all must be perfect. Perhaps if only he were
clever enough, true enough, she could see herself as he did.
He brushed and smudged until his fingertips
turned slick and silvery as a herring. Here and there the white of the paper shone
through to highlight delicate cheekbones, graceful neck, taut stomach.
“The way you keep looking at me,”
she murmured, rousing him from the world he spun on paper, “I don’t even know.
It’s…” One hand curled over her belly. “I like it.”
He smiled but did not pierce his
reverent silence. Words were but pale echoes beside the heat of his gaze. He
At last he held the page aloft,
frowning. Was it perfect? No. He’d never quite gotten the knack of hands; hers
seemed spindly and malformed. The draping of the cloth was too smooth, lacking
texture and definition. But her face? That
was perfection. Eyes bright as the stars and lush lips parted with desire.
“Can I see?” She rose without waiting
for his assent. The sheet slipped away to the floor. Bare as a babe, she strode
toward him and plucked the paper from his hand.
Despite the ample distractions
before him, his gaze was steady upon her face as she surveyed his handiwork.
Her eyes scanned over the page, first rapidly, then with luxurious slowness,
lingering over the details. Her lids fell heavy with pleasure. “Crane, this is…”
She flapped the paper as she groped for words. He settled his hands about her
waist, gazing up in rapt adoration. “This looks more like me than what I see in
“Yet you are more beautiful still
to my eyes.”
She chuckled and set the page aside
with care. “You are gonna drown in
pussy tonight, you know that?”
He tugged her down into his lap. “But
what a happy death it will be.”