One word, one post-it note, one box on my desk. Pupils dilated and hands shaking, I removed the lid.
Another post-it, six narrow rectangular boxes inside.
The wand chooses the wizard.
(You’re going to need one)
Dumbfounded and awkward, I started opening each small box to reveal six writing tools. Pencils, pens, even a fountain pen. Each one different. Each one just as powerful as the other.
Using the only drop of logic I could grasp in the moment, I picked up one I thought would work in any crazy situation that was about to take place – a classic pen.
“Let’s go. Now.”
My boyfriend grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the office and into the street. We walked at a fast yet steady pace. My heart beat in unison. I couldn’t help but spurt out tentative questions to get the slightest idea about where we were going. He dismissed each one, of course.
We headed north through the city center, passing the fancy cafés, theaters, and hotels on Victory Avenue. Every time I thought I picked up a clue about our destination, it was quickly replaced by the same utter disorientation I started out with.
At this point, there wasn’t any use in guessing. It would have fucked up the spontaneity, and I was too high on the moment to risk it.
Out of nowhere, he yanked my arm, pulled me back three steps, turned a sharp left, and threw us into a courtyard. Snapping out of my distant reverie, I turned around and my pupils further dilated in a natural rush of dopamine.
We were in front of the National Art Museum, and I forgot how to breathe.
“We have to hurry, come on.”
I followed him without a word, shrouded in a mix of bewilderment and excitement.
The museum lobby was empty. Radio silence. Before I got the chance to take it all in, a lady appeared out of nowhere, scuttering our way. After finding out we wanted to buy tickets to visit the museum, a cloud of almost mother-like concern came over her face.
“I’m sorry, but you won’t have time to see all the exhibitions. We’re closing in less than an hour, and you need at least two to three hours to take everything in.”
“Please. It’s my birthday and he planned this visit as a surprise for me. There’s nothing I want more. We’ll be quick, I promise. Please, I beg you,” I blurted out in waves, with sincere desperation in my eyes and words.
She paused, sighed, and glanced at us with a flicker of admiration. It only took a second, but it felt like an eternity before she answered.
“Alright, but you have to be out a quarter to closing time. Come along now, go, ” she hushed us away and towards the grand staircase.
No tickets. No questions asked. Our energy was contagious.
We mouthed multiple silent thank-yous and hurried up the stairs. Even he couldn’t believe we made it through. My eyes were spiraling in their sockets in an attempt to absorb everything on fast forward. We dashed from one exhibition to another, trying our breathless best to contemplate each painting in record time. Everything was astoundingly beautiful, and all my senses were on fire.
In the Italian Art Gallery, giant Baroque and Rococo masterpieces kept stopping us in our tracks. Bramantino, Guercino, Tintoretto, all staring down at us, after Rembrandt, El Greco, and Rubens had already left us speechless.
Here, he gently guided me to the back of the gallery, to a huge painting behind a standalone wall in the center. I looked up, and up, and up, taking in the meters of seemingly neverending canvas. It was a larger-than-life portrait by Jacopo Amigoni, depicting a singer with cold eyes, surrounded by angels and sheet music.
I felt a soft nudge, shifted my head left and gaze down to see a small white notebook in my boyfriend’s hand.
I turned to the first page. His handwriting was at the top.
And he devoured her from the painting.
Below this was the last post-it of the night.
Write, write, and write again.
I took my wand in hand. And I did.
His gaze was fierce, fueled with the thousands of musical notes laid on sheets but never sang. Thousands of notes, thousands of sheets, thousands of failures, and thousands of doubts.
The muse held him in a gentle embrace, reassuring yet conscious of the useless sheets to come. She tried to console him, but he knew there would be no future other than fate.
He would die a songless death, in the arms of the muse who hadn’t given up on him until his final agonizing moments with crumpled sheets at his feet.
This is how The Museum Chronicles series came to life on a cold night in December 2019. Love, adrenaline, and the spontaneous order to create a Visual Story face to face, on the spot, no matter how short, or rushed, or unprocessed it was.
The following stories in this series will be created the same way — a notebook, a wand, and pieces of flash fiction written in front of paintings in museums.
And you will be joining me for the next one.
Face to face, on the spot, writing together, no matter how short, or rushed, or unprocessed it is.
Get ready to get high with me — on life, on experimentation, on experience.