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Thursday, June 19th, day 19
Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
“You can’t be serious. They actually used these back then?”
I dangled the…[look up some really old tool or artefact] from my fingers, looking at Lee with disbelief. He made me put it back, and gave me a stern look, saying Get back to business with merely a glance.
Before I could say anything, a crowd of people rushed up. “Hanuara Fei-Ling! Is that really you? What are you doing here?”
I smiled adoringly at my fans, thrilled when more people came to see what the commotion was about. “Are you doing a shoot here today?” one of them asked. I told them no, I was just visiting with my friend. Impulsively, Lee reached out and gripped my arm in an effort not to lose me in the mass of people.
He coughed imperceptibly.
I sighed with a slight scowl. Party pooper. “Okay, guys, break it up. Please let me enjoy this while I can. I hardly get out anymore.”
“But we heard that you’re taking a break for the summer!”
Sam and Carl were close by, watching. Rolling my eyes towards the ceiling, I counted down the seconds. Three…two…one. A security guard broke through and asked if I was having problems. I could tell he just wanted to restore the peace.
“Yeah, actually, I was just going to call you.” I frowned at him.
“Okay, break it up everyone! Party’s over. Leave her alone!” The security guard motioned everyone back. They slunk away, sneaking camera flashes. “You too, son.” The guard reached for Lee’s arm.
“Oh, no, that’s okay. He’s with me.” I smiled sweetly at the officer. “Thanks for helping me, by the way. you have a nice day now.”
“I’ll keep an eye out for trouble,” the guard promised.
I was afraid to meet Lee’s gaze. “I told you to wear your hood,” he chastised. He kept his head low as we strode away.
“Why? Did that bug you?” My high was fading.
“Yeah, it did actually. I’m the teacher, and you’re my student. Your job is to learn, and my job is to teach. Please pay attention.”
I took a deep breath, and let it out slow. “Okay, fine. Just let me put it on in the bathroom, so no one will see.”
We were at the Museum of International History in Gambry. I still didn’t know why, but Lee had insisted it was important. I had been to the museum, twice with my father doing research for a book. They added “new” stuff every year.
Nobody even glanced at me as I followed Lee to the back of the museum, and down a dark hall. Odd. The only thing I remembered being back here was a bolted door labelled AUTHORIZED PERSONEL ONLY. But maybe there was something that I had missed.
Lee stopped at the closed door. He dug in his pocket for a small, round something that he waved over the bolt. With a slinking sound, it slid open. I’m guessing it was a magnet.
“What did you do to that door?” I demanded. “Are you sure we’re allowed in here?”
He was going to reply when a portly man jumped out of the shadows. “Who are you?” he hissed.
I jumped out of my skin, and Lee stepped forward. “A child of God,” he said. “And you are?”
“A keeper of the promise. Peace be with you when you enter.”
They clasped hands. “And also with you.”
I guess it was some sort of secret password. Lee gazed at the man with raised eyebrows.
“How long do I need to keep doing that?” he asked. “Have I not come here often enough that you would recognize me?”
The man shrugged. “The Big Tom likes to be consistent. Don’t worry, brother, I know you well enough. The girl’s with you, right?”
Lee nodded, and then strode into another hallway to the right. it was low and narrow, and painted midnight blue. it was like walking through an endless doorway. Above, I could hear the fans of the ventilation system. I struggled to keep up with him. “What was that about? Are you taking me to your lair?”
He rolled his eyes. “What do you think I am, a vampire? You can be truly ridiculous, Hanuara.”
Lee used his magnet thing to open another door, and then we emerged into a brightly lit room.
I stood in the wide doorway, taking it all in. The room was filled with at least a hundred paintings. Lee made a grand gesture.
“Welcome to the greatest art gallery in the world.”
“Mr. Palener. I see you have brought a friend.” Behind a desk rose a beautiful Ukrainian woman. Her hair was glossy and pulled back in a shoulder-length pony tail. Her face was pearly round and the colour of cream, with small naturally red lips and large, heavily-lashed green eyes. Her body was slight, and curvy. She was wearing a knee-length black dress that accentuated her slender legs.
“Raquel.” Lee kissed her on both cheeks. “Hanuara, this is Raquel, the ‘Big Tom’ Lyle back there was talking about. Raquel, this is Hanuara Fei-Ling, that model you are so obsessed with.”
“I am not obsessed, Mr. Palener. I am pleased to meet you, Miss Fei-Ling.” She clasped my hand in her delicate one.
“Thank you Raquel. This is a beautiful gallery.” I spread my arms wide.
“Yes. Please, look around. Take one, if you want.”
Reverently, I moved around the room. I ran my fingers over a bright portrait of Jesus hanging on the cross, with the rising sun behind Him. He was covered in blood, and the crown of thorns was cast in grey. Mary kneeled before him, her face cast in shadow. Beside it was a huge floor to ceiling painting of a perfect pink rose. Every detail was alive. I expected to prick my finger on the thorns, and I thought the petals would be soft. But of course it was only canvas. I made the tour, my eyes growing misty with how intense it all was. I came to a painting of a naked man and woman. The woman’s head was bent over an exotic flower, and the man had his arms around her. He appeared to be whispering something in her ear.
“That’s one of my favourites,” Lee said from behind me. I hadn’t realized he was there.
“Yeah. You know why? Art is history. It helps you stay connected to the past. You don’t get any more historical than Adam and Eve.” He brushed his fingers over the bottom edge, drawing my eyes to the caption. First Love. No, it doesn’t get more historical than that. “Have you ever noticed how sometimes, art can tell a story? Written work, obviously, but sometimes songs, music, and dance, too. And paintings and stuff.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed.”
“Art can be remembered and passed down hundreds of years afterward. The maker might be forgotten, but the creation just goes on and on.”
“Raquel? I think I’ll take this one.”
In my room, I stared at the painting while lying on my tummy on my bed. Lee’s words replayed in my head. Art is history, art is balance. That told me nothing. But then I took a closer look at the painting. Art is balance. This painting is art.
Find your balance, Hanuara.
I hopped off and brought the painting to my balcony, where I leaned it on a wall. Balance, balance. I supposed the layout was balanced. Adam and Eve were right in the centre, and there was a balanced ratio of trees to grass and bushes. The light and dark contrast was smooth and even, not leaving much room for shadows.
Adam’s strong masculinity compensated for Eve’s feminine delicacy. The brightness of the flower compensated for the flat bright greenness of the background. Eve’s long brown hair fell to the ground, hiding the part of Adam that we really weren’t supposed to see. I blushed.
Okay, so I found the balance, what now?
“Mind if I join you?”
Startled, I glanced down. Julius was standing on the lawn, looking up at me with his hands in his pockets.
“Julius!” I hissed. “What are you doing? You’re going to get caught!”
He just grinned. “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east! And Hanuara Maria is the sun.”
I rolled my eyes. “First of all, its three-thirty in the afternoon. And I don’t think Shakespeare would appreciate you messing up his play.” I leaned against the railing.
He took a step forward. “Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon. Who is already sick and pale with grief, that thou her maid art far more fair than she: be not her maid, since she is envious; her vestal livery is but sick and green, and none but fools do wear it; cast it off.” He crossed his arms and waited.
With a sigh and a great rolling of my eyes, I hopped onto the railing. two could play at this game. “O Julius, Julius! Wherefore art thou Julius? Deny my father, destroy my name, or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Fei-Ling.”
He opened up his arms to me, and I pushed off from the rail, floating down until I reached him.
“Shall I hear more?” he whispered in my ear. “Or shall I speak at this?”
I raised my finger to his lips, and he nibbled it. “Don’t speak at all, Romeo. Just kiss me already.”
He grinned against my finger. “if I profane with my unworthiest hand, this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this, my lips, two blushing—”
He was silenced by my kiss.
Who needs history? The present was just fine by me.
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