She’s crying now, blotting her eyes with a tissue. He pulls her hair back in an attempt to comfort her. They kiss with more urgency. She has been sitting on his lap. Ten minutes ago she moved slightly while he adjusted his pants, out towards his knees and then back again closer to his stomach. His legs are parallel– thighs exactly perpendicular to calves. Her legs (perpendicular to his) conform to the same precise geometry. Their upper bodies are more organically interwoven. She cries again. His embrace tightens. A Saturday afternoon, but he wears a tie. She is in T-shirt and jeans. They speak, a break in the kiss. She is more animated. He strokes her hair. Their embrace alternates between insistence and nonchalance. A break in their routine–she takes a drink from a bottle and for the first time looks down the pathway as though she suddenly finds herself in a public space. He takes a drink. It is his opportunity to look around. They have now re-focused. Relaxed, his arms around her waist, she lowers her arms from his shoulders to take lipstick from her purse. He tests her application. He kisses her hand as she blots her eyes, lifting her glasses. He now supports himself with a hand on the stone bench, arm straight. A few words and then a short, very hard kiss. He strokes her hair. More short conversation punctuated by short kisses, unlike the extremely long ones when they began. She stops, looks down at his watch rolling his wrist over to check the time. Their legs have not moved for 20 minutes. They are standing. She drinks more water. Before separating, they walk a short distance down the path hand in hand. She holds a rose. They pause a moment for him to look at the sole of his left shoe. It is precisely noon.

The bench is in a shaded area, a large black tree to one side. Just behind the tree and to each side of the bench are marble busts on tall bases, Savonarola to one side and Lorenzo di Medici on the other partially hidden by the tree. Also behind the bench is a section of rustic fence 2′ high, with diagonal members intersecting with verticals a meter apart. Some bits of sunlight hit the path. It’s a bright, very warm day after two days of cool temperatures and rain. The light is very steady, unchanging shadows dense and opaque. A busy section of the park very near the northern end of the Villa Medici gardens with the studios of the French Academy clinging to the outer wall.


She collapses to the floor, disoriented, panicked. He attempts to comfort her placing his right hand at her elbow, left hand on her head. She covers her mouth to muffle her cry, to somehow contain herself. It now appears that he himself has covered her mouth, muffling a scream and holding her hair tightly with his left hand. In pushing her to the floor and forward as she attempts to escape his grasp, he has managed to expose her body below the waist.

Fragments of a continuing narrative are at once familiar, banal, trivial, pleasant. An embrace, the movement of a couple dancing, the anticipation of a sensual closing of space between them. The same fragments unfold in an atmosphere of anxiety and fear. An attempted embrace, anticipated but unwelcome, an ineffective gesture of resistance fails to slow the momentum of the stronger and heavier body brutally closing the space between them.