S E V E N

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Mr. Blum sat down in the very back of the theater, towards the exit as he watched the woman onstage. He was a man admiring her on her pedestal, as one admires a great sculpture. Her red lips were fixed in an innocent pout, pitiful and seductive. Her eyes were crystals, they pierced through the observers in the audience like lovely daggers, and, she gazed into the eyes of the sculptor, though their eyes were not supposed to meet. Because, he loved her, as a sculptor loved his work. He loved looking at her. And that was the problem: they were looking at different things, unable to avoid attraction for the one thing both knew the other wouldn't give.

Her, standing there with unabashedly honest eyes wading in his diffidence, his cowardice in his feckless running pupils. She chased a hiding spirit, wanting more than anything a freedom felt in the embrace of another creature's understanding. From his eyes, she sought permission to be more than a mass of pretty flesh, a beautiful object to be admired for awhile then put away and forgotten, but an unfortunate creature aware of its loathsome intellect and its tendency towards loneliness, starving without the meaningful presence of a conscious other. Her Creator was all there was, and without him to look at her, she would surely be lost. It was "love" she decided to call it, for she dared not venture to call it anything else.

He loved the product of his labor; the toil of his hands had drawn a magnificent reward. He loved what he had imagined and then set out to create. He marveled at every detail that he had painstakingly manifested in the dull clay slab, from which arose a sublime and monumental testament in its pure naked beauty. For his eyes, there was so much to consume, he could barely hold his attention in one place. He started with her elegant brow, so perfectly round, and then her narrow, delicate nose, fixed so fittingly well in the center her of face. To each side of it, her emerald green eyes were housed underneath sweeping eyelashes like black fans, descending lightly atop her cheeks, which sloped gracefully into her rosy lips and small chin. He admired her long neck, tracing it down to the small divot made by her clavicle, and below that, the small space between her breasts; how marvelously erotic her supple hips were the way she postured, with one leg folded over the other as she bashfully hid herself in her coy routine. Her voice was ring from heaven. Put to the words captured in any lowly piece of script-writing made the sweetest sound. It was "love" he called it, because to love a woman in such a way was the only way he wanted to know how.

She stopped speaking. Instead, she stood there with her hands cupped in front of her lap as she watched the three observers seated in the third row as they whispered to each other.

"That'll be all, sweetie, thank you," said the director.

Misha mouthed a polite "thanks," before exiting stage left, allowing the next girl her turn for the audition. Before disappearing behind the curtain, she glanced up at the back row one more time. The director did the same.

"Hey, this is a closed audi—"

Whoever had been there was already gone.

❆❆❆

He had to run. He was a cartoon cat, bumbling through the city and stumbling over his oversized feet. When he finally arrived, he stood holding his knees, just as he found a big, pink pig stampeding out of the front door.

"Well, you made it. The party's fuckin' over, kid," the man inside of the costume grumbled.

"I'm really sorry I just—"

"Had other plans? You always have other plans when it's time to work. Well, guess what? I'm not payin' you! Hope those other plans were worth it."

"We can go back in there. C'mon, I know the kids still wanna see Kenji Kat."

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