Deucalion and Pyrrah-fiction for you

After seven years coming to this vineyard in Spain every summer, Chloe was finally used to walking with her back to the vines and talking to the crowd, in high heels no less. The heels accentuated her long, slender legs. Twenty years of dancing kept her agile and the discipline showed. Her taut body was draped in the tight black pants and the fitted black silk sweater of her uniform. As she spoke she twisted her wavy hair up and secured it with a silver barrette. “ This has always been my favorite vineyard and winery in Rioja.” She said to the group of middle-aged tourists, guiding them down an ancient path through gnarled, old, tempranillo vines. “The owner’s family has been collecting art for hundreds of years. Some of the most beautiful paintings in the world are just inside the house.” Chloe motioned to the ancient chateau poised up on a hill, her flattery was more pronounced than usual.
She always liked to save this vineyard for the end of the ten-day tour through Spanish wine country. On this day, however, she was distracted by something other than her job as a guide. The bright sun was dipping low on the horizon and blinding her view of the faces. She managed to glance often over to the chateau in the distance, as if she was searching for something there. Two men were unloading the travel coach and lining up the luggage. Her new luggage stood out. It was larger than the rest of the bags. The porter took the bags inside the chateau.
Chloe lead the group through the gardens and through the old, wooden double doors of the chateau, she paused for just a moment to catch her breath and let the group congregate. Before them was a long corridor filled with some of the most legendary and coveted paintings and pieces of art ever seen in a private collection. Behind her was a glorious sunset of magenta and orange that rested on top the vines. From somewhere in the distance, the sounds of acoustic Flamenco guitar were gently flooding the hall.
Her eyes came to rest on a single painting, hung out of the way and poorly lit. It pained her to see it neglected in that way, hanging alone, in the corner, in the dark. “Deucalion and Pyrrha,” was dusty and ignored. She had loved it instantly when she first discovered it there, seven years ago. Overwhelmed by the dusky beauty of the painting she looked at every brush stroke, every color and the layers of meaning in the symbols used to convey the myth. Each character symbolized the chaos of the birth of man and the seeds of destruction of all humanity. The decadence of life; the feasts, the wine, the jewels and finery were all on display. Deucalion and Pyrrha had the choice to continue along their path populating the world with humans. With each human they created, they brought sin and hedonism and lust into the world. The struggle was on their faces and in the pain of the piece. It was dark and brooding with vibrant splashes of crimson washed through the azure and violet background. Aloud, but to nobody in particular, she glossed over the little brass plaque; “‘Deucalion and Pyrrha’ was painted in the 1600’s by ‘Il Grecchetto’ Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione.” She then murmured to herself, “and it ended up hidden away in this corridor, in the corner, in the dark.”
She felt the air shift and become cool outside as a storm approached. She couldn’t have asked for a more perfect evening to spend in the old chateau. She loved the rain. Mesmerized by the painting, the music, and the perfumed air; the voices of the group became a jumbled noise that blended into the quiet thunder on the distant horizon. As she spoke to the crowd, her mind wandered to her studio at home, and the dozens of paintings lined up against the wall, which mingled with empty wine bottles bearing the label of the vineyard. Each painting was exactly the same and yet each was in some way flawed. As she paced back and forth in the corridor, like a cat in a cage, she dutifully rattled of the details of each painting to the group of tourists. She gazed at her beloved painting once again, and as she sighed to herself, a smile was on her lips which was barely perceptible to the group or to even to her.
The rain began to fall, gently at first. The blaze of orange had given way to grey storm clouds. The warm and welcoming smells of paella, tempranillo and tapas were wafting through the air. The Flamenco music had gained force and the tempo stirred something in the group. They were bored of the art, tired from the day of traveling, and hungry from the smells of dinner. They made their way out of the hall and looked for the dining room and the aromas of Spain. Chloe trailed behind as she shook off the spell of the painting.
The dinner went well as these dinners usually did. The owner of the vineyard presented himself and played Flamenco for the group. The clients always paid for an exclusive experience. They wanted to visit the very best vineyards, dine on the most delicious cuisine and sample the most impressive wines. They wanted to be entertained and educated. This group was no exception. The vineyard owner was always a gracious host and Chloe was their passport into the world of luxury and finery that most people have only read about. Everyone was tired after seven courses and dozens of bottles of the vineyards finest wines dating back forty years. Plumes of smoke billowed around the candles in the chandelier that hung above the table. It was dark and cool, despite the fire that burned in the old marble dressed fireplace at the end of the room. Outside the storm raged on. It was late in the season but the grapes on the vines were still waiting to ripen and the storm was making the vineyard owner uncomfortable. He was afraid of losing his most prized possession just before harvest. The guests were sipping on the last glasses of Palo Cortado Sherry and one by one, they excused themselves for the evening. According to protocol, Chloe showed each guest to his or her private suite, which were scattered throughout the old Chateau. Through the years she had learned to walk lightly on the creaking floors to prevent waking anyone from their slumber. She new each weakness in the floors and expertly avoided the noisiest spots.
Once the last guest was safely tucked away, Chloe and the vineyard owner shared one last glass of wine in celebration if yet another successful tour. The guests were satisfied and she sold more wine on this tour than ever before. Their conversation turned to the upcoming harvest and the dangers of the storm. Their conversation slowly trailed off. After what seemed like hours of silence as they both stared into the dying fire of glowing embers and blue hot flames, Chloe wished him goodnight, kissing each cheek, and made her way to her room. She was exhausted from the trip and lulled by the meal, the wine, and the weather. She kicked off her high heels, pulled her nightgown out of her new luggage and sat at the edge of her bed, deep in thought.
Chloe slipped out of her room closing the door behind her without making a sound. As she made her way down the long corridor, she could barely hear the owner as he strummed the guitar. He was so close, but thankfully he was wrapped up in his own thoughts and worries. She found herself standing in front of “Deucalion and Pyrrha” and she trembled. She nearly dropped the bag she was carrying as she lowered it to her feet. Seven years she had waited for this moment. She stood motionless and listened as the owner played. Seven years of wanting; of desire so strong that she could not focus or think of anything else. Outside the storm moaned and cried. Seven years of painting, and her own personal torment of craving something so badly that she could never have had before.
She breathed deeply and slowly to calm herself and her shaking hands. She focused on the neglected painting intently as she used her knife to ease it away from the backing and slipped it carefully out of the frame. The music had stopped for a moment and she hadn’t noticed. Chloe hesitated, and then she rolled up the painting with a silk cloth to protect the ancient paint, and slid it into the long black tube she had strung across her back. She worked very quickly to replace it with one of her own. Finally, she took a step back and realized that it was nearly perfect. She smiled to herself as she paused to listen to the storm and the faded Flamenco guitar that dampened any sound she might have made. She gathered up her things and disappeared into the shadows as she quickly made her way back to her room.
The morning sun shone through her window and danced in the gauzy sheer drapes that canopied her bed. Chloe awoke her from her slumber and stretched like a cat to wake her limbs. The group was departing that morning and she was returning to her little apartment in the city. Her eyes were sleepy as she arranged her things in her new luggage. She pulled on her uniform and slipped her feet into her high heels. She whisked her wavy hair into a silver barrette and slicked on some lip-gloss. She grabbed the handle of her new luggage and wheeled it through the door and snuck down the corridor as quietly as she could. She lined her new luggage up with the rest of the bags and walked through the old, wooden, double doors. The bright sun had come up over the horizon and it blinded her as she turned her eyes toward the vineyard and the group that was standing there waiting for her. She took a deep breath and smiled.

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