The Pulse: Parma
Lucia put on her track suit and her running shoes, and nothing else. No socks, no t-shirt, no panties, no bra. Her breasts were not large, which made room beneath the grey jacket, which was not too tight. Her nipples rubbed up against the soft cotton. She looked in the mirror, and could just make out the contours of her breasts, their two pert pinpoints pointing straight ahead. They were perfect. They were ready to be polished beneath the gaze of the young men sitting in rattan chairs outside the Gran Caffè on Via Cavour.
Gianluca worked as a curator several blocks west at the Galleria Nazionale. Surrounded by the works of Correggio and Parmigianino, he was no stranger to heavenly nymphs, whose nipples had turned dark pink under the ardent rays of Heaven. Soaring downward through the clouds, to announce some sort of Immaculate Birth, their torsos twisted in the winds that circled above the confused realm of embattled souls. The cool air gave their skin tiny goosebumps. Their soft nipples became copper disks, pointing downward at the dark world of men. Circles below, the zephyrs cloaked their bodies of light in sheets of grey cloud, lest base desires were stirred up and their message be lost.
Lucia was, for five days of the week, one of those unhappy art school graduates who sat in obscure rooms of the gallery, making sure that human beings didn't come too close to the celestial canvas of Art. But this was the first morning of her weekend, and she was on her way to the Gran Caffè for a cornetto al miele and a cappuccino. She had an idea floating around in her head about a story she wanted to write. It was about angels, Dante's bread of angels, and about a Florentine girl who spent her time staring at frescoes in the San Marco Museum. She wanted to write about the difference between what Dante saw and what a Florentine girl might see today. She brought her iPad along, just in case she felt like writing something down.
Gianluca watched her closely, and was happy to see she picked a table close to the street, several meters in front of him on his right. She looked squarely at him, and smiled as she sat down. Gravity set the small half-circles into the perfect angle as she settled in a rattan chair.
Perhaps some day she'd work in one of the coveted galleries. She was much better-looking than Parmigianino's Turkish Slave, with her fan and the sly smile that still creeps into the lips of the finest nymphs of Parma. She was more like Michelangelo’s La Scapigliata, with her chaotic hair and downcast eyes. One critic said that her eyes “see through the filter of an inner state, rather than receive immediate impressions from the outside world.” Some day Gianluca would realize that she was the finest work of all. She could feel his eyes through the grey fabric.
Gianluca was thinking about Correggio's Assumption, which he'd seen that morning, high in the dome of the cathedral. He remembered the flood of angels, radiant beneath the Empyrean.