By: Andrew Dunn
What if all those sequins are eyes? Dozens or hundreds or thousands of eyes. If they are eyes, which direction are they looking? Outward at the world all around. Or are they pointed inward, discerning everything tucked away deep down inside. All the while innocent of and unconnected to life going on all around.
They come in many colors. Silver sequins are enjoyable. When draped over a body, the shadows silver sequins create bring to mind the works of Caravaggio or Gentileschi, or a monochrome photograph absent shades of gray and instead a striking study of the dark and of the light. Silver sequins accentuate the form underneath the fabric. Whatever cravings the body underneath the fabric might have given life to become even more raw, physical, carnal, when cast in light and shadow.
There were three red sequins on the floor. Two and a half really. What would have been the third had been slightly damaged and in good faith couldn’t be counted the same as its partners. What did red sequins say about the form underneath the fabric? That along with the light and the dark, something smoldered within. If sequins were eyes that gazed inward at all that she was, then the sequins on the floor had seen what smoldered within her. They had seen when what smoldered within burst into open flame and engulfed all of her being.
If her red sequins were eyes that gazed at the world all around, they had seen the choreography that kindled her innermost feelings. The nice suit he’d worn. The parade of nameless busboys and patrons that weren’t in their party. A quirky but amusing waiter that dutifully took everyone’s order, kept the drinks flowing, and then with the help of a server delivered the meal course by course. Somewhere between the drinks and his grin and the food and that infectious air of confidence that practically drizzled off him, it became a matter of when not if. By the time the quirky waiter dropped off her tiramisu, she couldn’t help but ask him to share it with her. He couldn’t help but accept her invitation. His cravings were just as raw, physical, and carnal as hers were beneath red sequined light and shadow.
A long time ago, sequins were made of metal. In some cultures they were made of gold. It’s possible they were made individually, each one a work of art in miniature all by itself. Each lending its individuality to a work of art greater than they could ever be on their own. Nowadays they are made of plastic, mass-produced on an assembly line, and identical. Where their ancestors lent individuality, today’s sequins complement living works of art as spectacular as they are unique.
As their party dwindled at their table, he complemented her eyes. Said he hadn’t seen eyes that shade of blue before, that they were quite unique. She removed her foot from one shoe and used it to play against his leg. When the quirky waiter came by to collect spent dishes, he asked for the check. She offered to pay for her portion of dinner. He told her not to worry, that it would be his pleasure to pay. She let her eyes meet his before she excused herself to go to the ladies room.
Sequins used to be the name of a currency. Sequins were minted in Venice beginning in 1284. For 513 years its design went unchanged. They were made of just over a tenth of an ounce of nearly pure gold. They featured the incumbent Doge of Venice on the front, and a latin inscription on the obverse which read ‘Sit tibi Christie, quem tu regis, iste ducatus’ or, ‘Christ, let this duchy that you rule be given to you’. Venetians called the coin a zecchino. When Napoleon invaded Venice in 1797, the french word for zecchino, sequin, fell into favor as the coin faded from use.
She fell into his arms on the sidewalk while they waited for a taxi. She gripped his hand as they sailed asphalt seas bound for his apartment. The back of the cab alternated between blue-white from street lights and shadows. If the sequins on her dress were eyes that gazed inward, they saw her hunger. Her desire. They could tell it was all she could do to keep herself from taking his hand and placing it on her thigh. If the hundreds of red sequins that sparkled even in darkness could see within her, past her lust they could see her doubt.
Each year The Doge of Venice sailed out into the Adriatic Sea on a boat called the Bucentaur. At sea the Doge performed an ancient ritual which symbolically married Venice to the sea. Her marriage ceremony had taken place in a garden courtyard at a church in her hometown. The purpose behind the ceremonial marriage of Venice to the sea was to symbolize Venetian dominance over the seas. Her marriage was to a man incapable of being one under their roof. Their marriage wasn’t romantic anymore. It was apathetic. An indifferent union between a man and a woman that had become passersby in each other’s lives instead of partners. Deep down she knew what she was doing was wrong, but so was what was missing from her life and her home. She searched within for some way to make wrong into right as she sailed with another man across an urban sea in a modern day Bucentaur marked ‘Uptown Cabs’.
There were three red sequins on the floor. Two and a half really. The third was the confessor. Stroking it gently between thumb and forefinger, it revealed everything it had witnessed both within and around Judith’s life that Thursday night. I hadn’t intended to crush it within my fist. Afterwards I felt ashamed that I’d done so because like me, it too was no longer an equal among its own kind. That sequin, like a thousand others, had only seen what had come to pass. There was no way it could have known that when Judith gave herself over to Steven, she had given me over to become her modern day Holofernes.