There is no industry in the sky, he said, looking at her.
There doesn’t seem to be, but there is, she replied.
They lay on their backs on a woolen blanket, at the top of a hill. From this vantage point, they could not see the town below, billows of steam emanating from dozens of industrial operations.
A trail of smoke interjects, flowing up painterly into the sky. It looks like a cloud.
You’re right, he admitted. There is industry in the sky.
Just then an airship floated into view, pushing aside the painterly clouds.
I’d like to paint that airship, she told him.
I’d like to paint you, he said. Your hat is askew. It lies sweetly behind your head, just so… he reached to correct it, but she swatted his arm away with her left lilac-gloved hand. Very expensive, that, the same colour as her hat. Not a common dye. Something his eye noted. His own hat was a dusky brown.
Mmm, lilac, he murmured, taking the hand and kissing it. My favourite flower. He gently bit her finger. Tastes like cotton! he exclaimed as he captured her hand in his. She giggled and pushed him away but he resisted. A button popped off the glove and rolled off somewhere into the grass.
Now look what you’ve done! She admonished him.
Sorry, he said, not quite apologetically. She gave him an arch look.
They begin to hunt for the button, she directing him with worded suggestions because she is still lilac-gloved and doesn’t want to ruin them further, he with his hands. It is nowhere to be found. He does not know this, but these gloves and hat are the most expensive items she is wearing. She does not own them. She has tried, very very hard, for today. He does not know this either. She really must find that button.
Above, the airship whips in a rising wind and floats off. The sky is again clear of industry. The smoke has dissipated. After a while she unhats and ungloves, wrapping up her precious cargo in a dusky brown scarf, and helps him search in the grass.
It takes them half an hour but they find the button, fingers meeting over it and closing on it, and each other’s hands, at the same time. Her eyes, he notes, are a fine gray, and they close as their hands entwine.
Sal? She asks shyly. Thanks for lending them to me. I’m sorry, a button came off, and I sewed it back on. The thread isn’t quite the right colour but I can do it again if you want me to.
Sal smiles knowingly and takes her lilac bundle back. No need. So how was the drawing lesson? Did Lee paint you?
She blushes deeply.
Sal knows that lilac is the most painterly colour.
Story © 2015 Clio Em.
Part of the series Airships.
mint tea follows.