Nina started. She tore up the gold metallic paper for the background and glued it so the jagged edges overlapped. Then she cut the child's and madonna's faces and hands out of a Safeway shopping bag. The dark brown paper she had chosen was the exact tone she wanted, the tone of her own skin, her mother's.
For the Madonna's robe and child's wrappings, Nina had bought bright color tissue paper magenta, mint green, azure, mango.
Next, worked on the Madonna's face, then the robe. Not easy, it took hours. Hours that spread over several weeks as she could only work on it evenings after a day at the office. And only if she wasn't too tired. And only if she got home early enough. Not always possible because of errands, her art class. And because she had Larry and wanted to spend time with him. And because even when he wasn't there, HE WAS, Yes. He was always on her mind. More since the engineering firm he worked for was transferring him out of San Francisco to Seattle.
Finally the Madonna emerged. Beautiful. She couldn't wait. She ran to the local art shop to have it framed. She told the store clerk: This Is a Madonna and Child.
href="http://bp0.blogger.com/_sBzMjpJu2cE/RiKOKv5qJ6I/AAAAAAAAAE4/ZGeSgRuW6m8/s1600-h/camincha+bag.jpg">The clerk looked at the collage, then said, And child?
Nina explained, It's not finished.
The clerk was amused. People usually wait till the work is finished, she smiled.
A week later Nina picked it up. The gold-specked wooden frame she had chosen really brought the Madonna's figure to the forefront. Made it three dimensional. Regal in its simplicity. It emanated compassion, tenderness. Nina delighted took it home to finish her composition.
Larry phoned, I started to pack. You sure you won't relocate with me?
Nina was sure. As much as it hurt she had to face facts: They weren't getting along. He loved her, but resented her foreignness, her Peruvian friends, her Peruvian music, her Peruvian food. To go away with him would end in disaster.
SHE HANGED UP the collage and admired it for a few days before she found time to get back to it. Then lovingly designed, shaped and glued the figure of the child in its colorful wrappings. Next, went to work on the Madonna's hand holding the child. She worked diligently, one finger at a time. Just the way she had planned it. Nina drew long, graceful fingers on the brown paper.
She cut. Glued the hand in place and 1eft it to set overnight. Next day ran to admire it. Six graceful fingers stared at her ?*!*?*!
I have to concentrate. Stop thinking of Larry, she screamed. It took her two more tries before a five finger hand was finished And many, many more tries to get the child's face not to look like Humpty Dumpty's. In desperation, about to give up, decided to try just one more time. It worked.
Larry called, I've started taking down pictures.
She held his photo: That juicy, full lipped, heart-shaped mouth, his one outstanding feature. She decided the child's mouth would be perfectly heart-shaped with full lips. It worked.
NINA AND LARRY, a few days later, stood admiring the finished collage. Nina pointed out how she had immortalized him. Larry chuckled, flattered, amused.
Their parting kiss was sweet.
Camincha is the pen name for a writer in California. She is a frequent contributor to MyStoryLives.