portrait of an artist as a young girl (chapter 12, part 2)

Lichtenstein print
(photo by sissychrissy)

For her first walk up the hill to Mae’s house, Drew doesn’t even need to put on shoes but she does, anyway, for the sake of appearance. 

Mae’s assistant Holly meets her at the door and hands Drew a key and a clipboard.  Holly is a nondescript woman of about fifty wearing amorphous black clothing, dull hair in a bob, and a deadpan expression.  Drew pockets the key and signs her name and hands the clipboard back to Holly, who flips to the next page and reads aloud:  “First, you should notice the artwork, all commissioned by Mae.  You’ll find all the most avant-garde artists represented on these walls.” 

Drew pauses by a pastel of an uncharacteristically svelte blonde.  “But de Kooning didn’t really do this?”  Holly’s eye rolls her way.  “I didn’t mean to sound snotty, I’m just curious.” 

 “I just said I’m just a personal assistant.  I don’t claim to be an art expert.”  She taps her clipboard with the pen. ”I’m just reading you the words I have written in my notes. If you have any questions at the end, you’re welcome to ask her yourself.  Follow me, please.”  

Holly ambles slowly down the hall giving Drew plenty of time to recognize Mae’s likeness in each portrait they pass.  There’s Mae with limpid eyes and dramatic drapery; one with a suit, a bowler and a moustache; here she is cubist, there pointilist, collage, or cartoon.  If Drew opened the right door, would she find an emaciated artist chained to an easel?   

They turn left into a large room.  A white leather sectional frames a white lacquer coffee table in front of a carved stone mantel beneath an enormous interpretation of a Frida Kahlo ex voto;  Mae sitting naked on a chair beside her brunette twin dressed in a white lace wedding dress.  The Maes look towards the fourth wall with the same cryptic expression.  They are attached by an umbilicus that stems from one naked navel and snaking across the floor and up the other’s white skirt.

While Drew gawks, Holly drums her fingertips on the clipboard lying flat across her lap.  Finally, Drew pulls her eyes away to focus on the items lined up on the coffee table.


A large portion of this chapter has been deleted.

To read more, contact me and we can discuss publication. (!)



(photo by solo yo2 on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/42581424@N08/)



About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. gail

    enjoyed meeting holly, hope to hear more about her.

  2. Love the line about a child’s face as being “open before accumulating layers of shell.” You really are a good writer, hat girl. It isn’t at all my style of writing, but I couldn’t dream of diving into people’s feelings or psyches or whatever (don’t even know what to call it) the way you can. And since it’s enjoyable writing, it is my style of reading. My homophobic self even got through chapter 13 without cringing (don’t usually care for gay seduction scenes a whole lot). Looking forward to more chapters.

  3. 2&4&12B – these three are equals –
    aka – flawless, you swung the hammer
    and hit the bell. Forbidden knowledge
    and secret histories – this is getting
    really good – 9 12A 7 11 3B 3A 6 10 8
    5 1. Note that some of the lower toned
    chapters may not be flawed – just low
    toned. Maybe I just like tension and
    energy. I want to find what I like most
    about this – sometimes my best work
    winds up on the cutting floor and I
    have to scramble after it – what
    you said in your comment, is making
    me reconsider what I’ve chosen to
    remove from RUST. In the interest
    of streamlining. You may need second
    opinions, but this book contains some
    great matieral, nonetheless.

    • What you say about cutting the good parts and needing second opinions is true for me, too. Also what you say about finding readers who understand your genre. I’ve just found a local writing group to join– hopefully, that will help. First meeting on Nov 8. I’ll let you know how it goes (although it sounds like you have not had good experiences with groups! Neither have I, but I’m still hopeful!)

      • Good luck. Sometimes it’s
        not that bad. Just dull as all
        get out, when there is a
        speaker. I read a ton of books
        on the writing process and
        hear it all repeated. Sometimes
        the members are allowed to
        read their matieral – this is
        usually pretty interesting.
        Unless it is inspirational. Stories
        and humer are what I perfer,
        even if they are about turkey
        hunting – most people are
        pretty entertaining when they
        get around to showing off
        what they made and shuting
        up about how they made it. 🙂

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