Still life

She leans forward - she is leaning forward all the time - elbows on the table - rests there a minute and then rolls back into the back of the chair; it's a mannerism. She leans forward and rests her elbows on the table. Her expression suggests her to be thinking intensely about what has just been said. She is full of energy. Her forearms click into vertical and the head drops into place in the concave brackets of her hands. Her mouse brown hair falls forward over the fingers; strands separate and one eye shines through. "I don't agree," she says, looking away from all the lookers, jumps her elbow tips a little and bangs her elbows down with a jolt and falls back into the back of her chair with an elegant clumsiness. Despite its speed, the movement was almost languid. She smiles demurely at one and at all, phased, not letting the smile rest. It returns to her mouth like a sprung steel rule rolling in. She licks her upper lip with a flick of her tongue and bangs her teeth together, just, making a click, echoing. She repeats that and repeats it.

"Why don't you agree?" asks the tutor, masking the tone of exasperation one expects. She droops her arms over the sides of the chair and lets them swing, apparently unguided, like shoots of ivy or bramble. In a slightly world-weary voice she gives her reasons, flickering like an animated cartoon half-finished.

Copyright © Lawrence Upton, 2000