The guide ushers us through rooms with a sweeping arm movement. You see a windmill. She points to a Rembrandt and a Picasso as though they are the same. Her crimson lipstick has left its mark on her upper tooth, reminds you of a girl you used to take salsa classes with, until she vanished.
Tourists behind are snapping pictures, pressing you forwards, reminds you of a Rolling Stones concert.
“No flash,” she says. “Stop.”
Her words pull away like birds vanishing into the eye of a storm. There is a final snap of a shutter release and she growls like a dog: lips curled at the edges, eyes fixed to the floor.
“And we have our final room, the Cubists.”
She says the word, Cubists, as though the best has been saved for last, as though she is about to produce a vintage port, but you know it is not the highlight. The highlight was the entree: Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
The fire alarm goes off and the sprinkler system starts up. Crowds push towards the fire escape. A body is trampled in the rush, gets left behind. You feel for a pulse. The guide ushers you out, tells you it’s too late. Blood pools around her head, reminds you of sacred halos and flames of rulers past, and of the Sun God, Ra. You want to bring her back, the way you wanted to bring back your salsa partner, but you don’t have that power. You leave and watch the pool of red around her head. She will be reborn tomorrow.
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