Fine Art by David Henson

“Tessa, what a wonderful surprise.” Art flung open the door and his arms. Tessa smiled her way into his hug. “It’s been too long,” he said as they separated. “Let me look at you.”

Tessa was tall and slender with short, silver hair. “You could still star in my revue any day,” Art said. He was about Tessa’s height and had thinning, wavy hair. “Please, sit down. I just brewed a pot of coffee. Are you still touring?”

“I’ve quit the show.” Tessa walked to the sofa. “It’s just not the same anymore. Never was after our troupe disbanded.” She slumped into the leather cushions. “I’d love a coffee.”

Art disappeared for a few minutes and returned with a silver tray and an elegant coffee service of porcelain and crystal accoutrements. He sat the salver on the glass table in front of the sofa and spread his arms as if he were presenting the star of a show. 

Tessa smiled. “You can make anything seem magical, Art. I’ve missed you.”

“And I, you.” Art poured them each a coffee. 

“Have you seen any of the old gang?”

Art sat, blew gently on his coffee and sipped. “I have actually. Lisa stopped by a couple months ago.”

“Lisa. Always so effervescent. How was she?”

“Not so good, I’m afraid. She recently stop performing, too. Said she didn’t sense a connection with her audiences any more. She seemed pretty depressed about it.”

“I know how she feels,” Tessa said. “It’s no wonder. With all the CGI nowadays, nobody believes we’re for real. Do you know what Lisa was going to do next?”

“I’m afraid not. We were on my little balcony upstairs, having coffee, when suddenly she rose onto the railing. Before I could stop her, she stepped off and floated up into the night. The last I saw of Levitating Lisa, she was silhouetted against the full moon, waving goodbye.”

Tessa shook her head and sipped her coffee. “I hope she finds what she’s looking for. How about Tina? I’d love to see her turn one more time. There was nothing more beautiful than her orange and black coat. And that roar. It gave me chills every time even though I knew she was really a pussycat at heart.”

“Me too. No, I haven’t had the pleasure of Tina’s company since we disbanded,” Art said. “But on a happy note, Flock of White Doves stopped by a few weeks ago. They looked great. Blanc brillant, well-preened. I put on my stage clothes for old time’s sake, and they took turns appearing out of my cupped hands. Then I gave them some sunflower seeds, and they went on their way.”

“Art,” Tessa said. “Could you do me a favor? I’d give anything to see you in your costume again.”

“Of course, Tessa. Give me a few minutes.”

While she waited, Tessa stood to stretch then sat back down and rubbed her hips. Soon Art returned wearing a black tux and top hat, crisp white shirt, gold cuff links, red cummerbund, and immaculately polished black shoes. Tessa felt her cheeks flush. “Fine Art in the flesh!”

“At your service, my dear.” Art removed his hat, and swooped it with a flourish as he bowed. “Sometimes I wish we could get the whole gang back together and go on one last tour. But what’s the use? Nobody would take us seriously.”

“Time’s passed us by, Art.” Tessa stood and walked slowly to her old friend. “Would you mind?” She raised her arms. 

“Of course.” Art held Tessa snugly around the waist and made a quick upward lift. There was a soft squishy sound as Tessa’s top half separated from her bottom part. Her legs immediately started paddling briskly around the room. Art carried her upper body back to the sofa and sat it down carefully. 

“Ahhhh. You don’t know how good it feels to not be jammed together,” Tessa said. 

“I envy you.”

“Remember when you used to roll my top half and bottom half apart on stage?”

“Sure. People loved it even if they did assume it was a trick.”

“Maybe we should’ve opened the boxes and showed them the real me.”

“Oh, no. Magicians can never reveal their secrets. Besides, everyone would’ve thought it an optical illusion.”

“You’re probably right.” Tessa finished her coffee. “Could I trouble you for another?”

“Certainly.” Art poured Tessa a cup; steam rose like a ghost struggling to take form, then disappeared.

She took a sip and held the flavor on her tongue a moment before swallowing. “Let’s dance.”

Art snapped his fingers, and Claire de Lune began to play softly. He lifted Tessa off the couch, held her close and began slowly swaying as she put her arms around his neck.

After a few minutes, Tessa noticed Art was straining from her weight. She looked at her lower half, and it sauntered across the room and rejoined her. 

“So soon?” 

“Fine Art, you’re going to need your strength tonight,” Tessa said then kissed him. “I have something magical in mind.”

David Henson and his wife have lived in Belgium and Hong Kong over the years and now reside in Peoria, Illinois. His work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best of the Net and has appeared in numerous print and online journals including Hypnopomp, Pithead Chapel, Moonpark Review, Fictive Dream, and Literally Stories. His website is His Twitter is @annalou8.

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