Iowa Writes

ALICE M. PHILLIPS
excerpt from the novel The Eighth Day Brotherhood


Sainte-Geneviève Sanitarium
Paris, 1888



      The artist's hand moved across the page of his sketchbook, slowly at first, then faster as he lost himself in the mesmerizing act of drawing his model. He was oblivious to the smears of graphite staining his knuckles as he shaded her face, to the heat and stench of sweat in the crowded auditorium, and to the sharp glances from the man seated next to him when the scratch of his pencil was distractingly loud. In his drawing, the young woman drifted in midair with her head tilted to one side, eyes closed, and wore a long white gown, like a sleeper suspended in space.
      Claude often felt as if he had slipped into a trance himself while watching her. The red-haired girl was of slight build, her limbs birdlike and delicate, blue veins visible beneath nearly translucent alabaster skin. Her eyes were closed while she writhed and quivered on the low wooden stage. Her feet were unsteady in her macabre dance, and her thick hair became a fiery mist around her face. One of her convulsions finally shook one strap of her chemise from her bare shoulders. Something in Claude's stomach twisted, making the young artist retreat into the dreamy miasma of his own mind. Instantly he was alone with her, saw only her, once their gaslit surroundings faded from his captured gaze.
      She will be perfect.
      Again she thrashed her head from side to side, making coils of red hair caress her shoulders. Her body exuded a haunting grace despite her erratic movements, her sinuous limbs stirring in an uncanny dance like a marionette on taut strings. Claude knew he had found his muse.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


ALICE M. PHILLIPS

Alice M. Phillips is an art historian and museum curator in Iowa City. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Iowa, specializing in nineteenth-century Symbolist art. She is also a visual artist, Irish fiddle musician and step-dancer, and facsimile creator of rare historical medical books.

The Eighth Day Brotherhood website

This page was first displayed
on October 02, 2016

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