Sunlight and Shadow (c.1872). Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910). Oil on canvas. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
Homer depicts an idyllic scene of tranquil bourgeois leisure in a pastoral setting. The young middle-to-upper class woman, indicated by her well-maintained white dress and refined shoes, reads peacefully in a hammock, floating amongst the light dappled trees with varied green leaves and black branches. Her face is softly defined and relaxed.
It was her favorite time of the year, the time when magic was tangible and fate was heavy-handed in its dealings. The giant windows of the market district were illuminated with all scenes of domestic tranquility and wonderment. Elves worked around the clock stringing garland and lights from every eave, and if she were being honest, she had a bit of a pep in her step herself.
Kerry James Marshall is an artist deeply invested in exploring issues of race in American society. His four-part Souvenir series memorializes political and cultural pioneers who died during the 1950s and 1960s. In the 13-foot-wide Souvenir IV (1998) a tranquil domestic scene, rendered in grey scale to emphasize a sense of historicity, is interrupted by a glittery overlay. Floating above the African American woman, herself adorned with silver wings, are the heads of blues, jazz, and R&B musicians like John Coltrane and Billie Holiday. Suspended angel-like amid clouds and stars, each speaks the name of another musical legend while still other names appear on a scroll, a roll call of the lost. If a lot of the text in Souvenir IV is sorrowful—especially the message “We Mourn Our Loss” at bottom—the image of the elderly woman adds a note of poignant celebration. Marshall’s work sidesteps conventional or condemnatory summaries of African-American experience. Instead, the artist explores the rarely acknowledged optimism that flourishes amid difficult circumstances and the pride that outlives mourning for fallen heroes.
A smile stretched at my lips as I observed the tranquil scene around me, couples swayed effortlessly to slow music, all of them resting their heads on their partner’s shoulders or gazing into eachothers eyes. Teachers found themselves pulling eager students apart and scolding them for the dramatic PDA.
I tore my eyes away from my fellow classmates and reached into my purse to find my phone- he wasn’t here yet, What could be taking him so long? Although slightly anxious I stayed calm and stood still in the spot he had told me to meet him- the middle of the dance floor.
Kol had a way of surprising me when I least expected it and this afternoon was most definitely one of them, from the time I had gotten home to the time I had reached my bedroom door all my thoughts were focused on my future college plans and after that- well I began thinking how the hell was I supposed to get rid of all the balloons? It was an extremely romantic gesture, to come home to a room full of colourful balloons and only to be surprised by the one which happened to be holding a card.
The grin upon my face stuck for hours prior to tonight, and I couldn’t help but rethink the words upon the card;
Meet me in the middle of the dance floor by 9 -Kol.
I blinked suddenly realising I was daydreaming far too much to be considered sane. I exhaled profoundly as I reached for my phone again to see only two minutes had passed, now I was becoming paranoid.
Without warning two muscular arms engulfed me from behind and rested upon my stomach, I fell back into a hard chest and a chin hovered above my shoulder. He was here.
“Hello my dear” he whispered, the very sound of his voice made my cheeks heat up and goosebumps appear along my neck. Kol squeezed my body and pulled my closer so the space between us was almost absent. A sweet kiss was placed upon my cheek and I giggled accordingly.
“Break it up you two!” croaked Miss Hadley as she nudged Kol away from me so we stood at least three feet apart, I spun around to see her face scrunched up as she glared at us through her tiny glasses. My eyes drifted towards Kol as he looked at her with such amusement. She stared between us before walking off.
As soon as she left Kol stepped towards me and we both began to laugh, “She really need to get out more” I commented while placing my hands on Kol’s shoulders. He nodded in agreement.
“Or get laid, but I don’t see that happening” he added before he looked down at me and smiled, the grin I was giving him could not go any wider. He placed his hands on my hips and looked down at my black floor length dress, “You look absolutely gorgeous Y/N”. I was lost for words and hardly listening while I surveyed his sleek tuxedo and unique bowtie.
“Why thank you kind sir but I think your bowtie puts you up a level above me on the gorgeous metre” Kol smirked and rolled his eyes knowing I could never just accept a compliment.
A peaceful silence emerged as we both danced to the music, copying those around us, while my eyes wandered the room I knew Kol’s were glued to my face which made me stare back. “It’s crazy isn’t it?” he asked tilting his head slightly.
“What’s that?” I challenged.
“Being a couple of days away from complete freedom- no more homework, early nights or any of Mr Saltzman’s cheeky pop quizzes” I laughed and nodded along with him.
“Not that you ever did any of the homework” I teased causing Kol to tickle my sides a few times.
“You get what I mean though, we can do what we want and not have to worry about anyone interrupting us” I grinned as he gestured towards the teachers all lined up by the punch bowl to make sure it wasn’t going to be spiked.
As much as I looked forward to our upcoming freedom I couldn’t help but think about where we stood, the topic (although very important) seemed to always be avoided. “Kol?….What about us?” I questioned making his smile disappear and a more serious expression take it’s place.
He thought for a moment and gave a look as to if ask why I even questioned our 2 year relationship. “We, my dear we will stay together, through thick and thin I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you by my side” he remarked, “That is if you’ll have me”.
Of course I wanted this relationship to work, I loved Kol and I saw a future with him however my acceptance to a different college seemed to blur the future. “But-”.
“I know, we will be at different schools but I can’t lose you” he interrupted as he locked his fingers together behind my back as an act of protection. I thought for a moment and smiled.
“You won’t, we’ll make it a promise” I assured before placing both my hands on his cheeks and gliding my thumbs over them. He looked both shocked and relieved while he flicked his gaze between my eyes and my lips. Kol pulled me towards him by the small of my back and kissed me shortly after. My lips moulded with his and moved against them slowly- savouring the moment.
He grew hungry for more and that’s when we found ourselves already outside the gym in the school carpark, Kol leading me by the hand to his old pickup truck where I knew we wouldn’t just be talking, that was never the case.
We didn’t get home until 2 in the morning, it was true what they said about prom, how it was the greatest night of a person’s life and needless to say the we both kept our promise.
Commission for KCWM, from furaffinity. They are Buddah and Milo.
A very peaceful scene that reminds me tranquility to share a moment with someone special, and then not even have to be an important event, not even have to spend anything at that time, just the joy of being in the company of someone you care about.