Vase, Fleurs et Fruits by M.G. Thomas

Dae-yeon allows himself to be pushed through the crowd in the Louvre, one of the few times he could walk around unnoticed, anonymous. The crowd streams towards the Italian paintings, the Mona Lisa and the like. Dae-yeon, or Daniel, the English name he uses in Europe, leaves the freeway of people to find the French painter Jean-Baptiste Blin de Fontenay. The black and white painting he sought hung in a corner: Vase, fleurs et fruits. Such a simple name to describe the flowers tumbling down the canvas, detailed petals clustered and balanced in the frame, the intricate shading. The bird, beak open.

He let the image fill his mind, purging the face of Jacques. Jacques Valleneau, head fashion designer at Mock. Dae-yeon had just finished the photo shoot, was in the dressing room changing into his own clothes, his own look of jeans and white button down shirt. The knock at the door and dismissal of Xu, his bodyguard, instantaneous. 

Seeing Jacques, Dae-yeon sat down to tie up his white runners. “Do you need anything else?” 

He felt the pressure of Jacques’ hand on his shoulder, fingers brushing his neck.

“Beautiful work today. If this continues, I can take you into the North American market.” Jacques reminded Dae- yeon of a wolf: the blue eyes untamed, the smile too thin, the coarse hair greying. 

Dae-yeon stood up. Sweaty fingers slithered down this back. “I’m happy with the Asian market,” he said.

“Have dinner with me tonight. At my place. We can discuss this further.” 

“My staff are too busy for another business meeting.” 

“Just the two of us.” Jacques’ hand moved to Dae-yeon’s face, fingertips outstretched. “You are exquisite.” 

Dae-yeon sometimes cursed his looks: the fine features and gentle eyes; his half-starved body. 

“I have plans.” Dae-yeon gathered up his coat and cell phone.

“Break your plans.” Jacques’ voice took on an edge.


“Spend the night. See how it goes.” Jacques reached for Dae-yeon’s arm. 

“I have a partner. We care for each other deeply.” Dae-yeon jerked his arm away.

“Keep it between the two of us. No one else needs to know.” 

“I’ll know. Han and I trust each other.” 

Jacques showed his teeth. A sneer or attempt at a smile, Dae-yeon isn’t sure. “Nobody even knows about the two of you. What does that say about your relationship?” Jacques’ voice was quiet as he leaned forward. “I can ruin you as easily as I can advance your career.”

Dae-yeon strode from the room, eyes, ice-cold, looked straight ahead; Xu calling after him as he ran up the stairs, out into the damp February afternoon.

Away from the great masters, the Louvre is quiet. Dae-yeon read about the artist, Jean-Baptiste Blin de Fontenay, a French painter who had to choose between his Protestant faith and his career; who chose Catholicism, rather than lose his position. Has humankind changed so little in the past three hundred years that people are still having to choose between their career and who they are? 

“Am I any different?” Dae-yeon thinks. “Pretending to the world that I’m attracted to women, just for my career. Pretending that Han and I are only friends.” A constant cause of friction between them. Han always wanted to make their relationship public. Han, the man who grew up in a bubble, surrounded by his boy band friends in school. No names whispered his way in mocking tones. Geol-keo.

But, life was simple before the modelling and singing, the movies; much like the flowers in the painting. Each stage of life a petal opening and experienced. Enjoyed. Now life has taken on a darkness, people examining his life, trees lurking in the shadows. He’s tired of his successes and losses on public display; having to hide his lover in the unopened centre, bound within, chained to secrecy. 

Dae-yeon takes out his cell phone.

“Babe! You look great.” Han, speaking Korean, wears his hair in a topknot with sangtugwan crown, full lips tinted dusky rose. “Good timing. You caught me in between scenes.”

Dae-yeo flushes. “Any chance you can keep that headpiece?”

“I’ll ask.” Han lifts his eyebrows, a silent kiss.

Dae-yeon looks at Han, his eyes moisten.“I miss you.” 

“What’s wrong? Did you find out why you had to go to Paris for the shoot?” 

“Yes. We’ll talk about it when I get back to Seoul.” Dae-yeon pauses, composes his face.“ I want you to know I’m breaking the contract with Mock. Something happened today.” 

Han turns his head as a voice calls out. The director. “Sorry Babe, I have to go. I’ll be waiting for you.”

Dae-yeon glances at the painting. “And I’m ready.”

“For what?”

“To come out. About us.”

M.G. Thomas is a new writer, exploring literary and dystopian fiction, and fantasy. When not writing, she teaches piano and is attempting to learn written Chinese.