APHRODITE OF KNIDOS – ANGELA MCKEAN

Andre had bought Celestine the statue for her 45th birthday.  She had no idea why, and she still didn’t know, 32 years later, when it was too late to ask. But she had grown to love it.  

The statue had aged, along with her, become worn and pitted through exposure to the elements.  It stood among shrubs and climbers beyond the bay window where Celestine now spent most of her days seated, a shawl over her knees. Aphrodite had removed her wrap and was holding it aside, in preparation for a purifying bath, if the stories were to be believed. 

Silent in her wheelchair, Celestine pondered anew why Andre had gifted her the statue.  Had he wanted her to follow its sensual lead, to go to him proudly naked, relishing her sexuality?  Had he craved to find in her an echo of the goddess’s power, something that would satisfy an erotic craving for subjugation?  

When the garden had still been accessible to her, Celestine had loved running her hands over Aphrodite’s curves, her curling hair. No matter how hot or cold the day, the statue always felt cool, like limewash in autumn.

The light caught Aphrodite differently at the turn of each season.  Winter concentrated her in leafless shadow, coldly naked.  In spring, pale tendrils curled sensuously against her, purple wisteria falling in perfumed richness around her head.  The steady movement of the summer sun accentuated the roundness of her form, her worn surfaces.  But it was autumn that Celestine felt Aphrodite loved the most: it clothed her in gold, as befits a goddess, and Celestine would imagine the statue’s nascent smile widening imperceptibly.

Celestine smiled at the memory.  Now it was winter again. Nearly time to feed the dog. 

Celestine’s eyes closed. 

The light faded and as the hours ticked by, stars pricked the clear night sky. She did not hear the scratch at the door as her little dog came in.  She did not feel the pressure of his small muzzle against her hand, now cool, like limewash in autumn.

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