G is for… Gabriel

By Vita Forest


Phoebe wandered through the rooms of the Victoria and Albert.  This is why she was here after all.  To see some art, to get inspired.  She should be happy, she really should.  But there she was, weighted down in her chest by loneliness.  Who knew that when she wasn’t there, the slightest little thing could trigger this almost crushing nostalgia for home?

Clear blue skies, the shriek of lorikeets, she was even thinking about how the chocolate tasted different.

Good grief! as her friend Rory would say.  Friend… That was another thing.  So far today, the only person she had spoken to was the woman at the ticket desk who hadn’t even looked at her.  No wonder Phoebe was feeling a little bit wobbly.

She walked through another gallery.  A sculpture gallery.  It was full of scenes of violence.  Silent violence.  Frozen violence.  But violence.  It was as if some fairy had stopped time at the exact moment that the blade was about to pierce a neck, or the fingers were about to crush a windpipe.  Muscles clenched, adrenalin flowing, mouths screaming in agony.

Amongst all this mayhem, some kind of art class was sketching.  They were sitting cross-legged, leaning sketchbooks on their laps and hatching and cross-hatching away.  Looking up, looking down, the sound of the soft brush of the lead on the paper.  Phoebe walked between them, as fascinated by the living as she was by the stone.

Will you be my friend?

She wanted to lean against that beanied boy and sketch the struggle with the snake behind him.  She wanted to lend someone a 4B pencil and borrow someone’s scarf.  She wanted to know all the in-jokes, who always left their homework to the last minute and who was going out with whom…

Will you be my friend?

Maybe she wasn’t cut out for travelling.  Maybe she should have just stayed at home.  It took so much energy.  Working out the smallest things – how to buy a train ticket, what the five pound note looked like, where to buy decent bread.  But she was being ridiculous.  This was what she had spent the last year saving money to do.  She should damn well enjoy it.

Phoebe passed through a set of glass doors that sighed as she pushed them open.  She found herself in a cool, dim room lined with tapestries.  Pre-Raphaelite, she thought.  She strolled through the hush, past the angels with thick feathered wings and draped robes, past the maidens walking in a garden or perhaps it was an orchard.  There was fruit.  What kind of fruit?  The Pre-Raphaelites liked their nature didn’t they?  She could probably recognise it if she looked.  She sat down on a bench in front of it.

The door opened behind her.

An apple.

She could hear someone’s feet moving across the cold wooden floor.

Will you be my friend?

They came and stopped in front of the same tapestry.

A pomegranate.

And sat down beside her.  Right beside her.  Phoebe turned her head in surprise.

Gabriel looked at Phoebe and smiled.  Would she remember him?

Phoebe stared at him, raising her hands to her cheeks in astonishment.

“I know you,” she whispered.  “I know you!”

“Good,” he grinned.  ” I hoped you would.”

Phoebe was shaking her head, “You don’t understand – this is amazing.  I’ve bumped into someone I know in London!  It’s like, a miracle.”

And the draughty room rang with the sound of their laughter.





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