By Laurie Epps
Of all the portraits, Portrait of a Young Woman by Mary Louise Elisabeth really resonated with me. I imagined the subject of this French rococo painter to have the sweet and precocious nature of Marianne as in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. So I just went with my idea, and much to my essay's delight. I hope you will all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Love and Infatuation: A Story of a Young Woman
As I set out into the early morning air I only had two things on my mind, warmer petticoats and the evening that lay ahead. Tonight is going to be wonderful, not only is it the spring gala, but also my unofficial coming out party. I wonder who is going to be there. I am quite taken with Jean-Paul DuBuerre. He is two years older than I am, and he is in the militia.
Just last summer, Jean-Paul came riding up on a gallant black steed and rescued me when I fell in the bower. It had begun to rain lightly, and I twisted my ankle, which sent me tumbling down the hill. I had thought all was lost, and had begun to cry. In my confusion I thought I heard the light footsteps of a horse, but the volume kept increasing as Jean-Paul approached. As he dismounted his horse, I thought I would surely faint that there could be such a man. He inquired after my injuries, and quickly seemed to think I would be all right, and had me believing it too. Still when he spoke to me he looked into my eyes, carefully caressing my neck and cheek. Shortly after our brief dialogue he stopped suddenly and asked me to place my arms around his neck. Jean-Paul lifted me as if I were nothing, and weighed no more than a feather. He placed me on his horse and walked us to my home. My mother was quite alarmed to find me so disheveled.
Now that memory is nearly a year ago. I saw him in the marketplace the day before last and felt his gaze upon me. Finally, he did come and speak with me, and inquired as to my escort for the gala, and asked of my mothers health. Of course, my mother is quite well. In fact, it is due to her that I am out in the cold at this early hour for my coming out portrait to be made. As for the escort, I was quick to tell Jean-Paul that I am without an escort aside from my brother. Jean-Paul’s intense stare made me both nervous and excited all in the same moment.
Yesterday, I went to the mercantile to pick up some tapestry thread for my embroidery only to run into his young sister Claire. Young Claire was buying hair ribbons for the dance tonight, or so she said. She seems very mature for a girl her age, albeit that she is also prone to giggle. Claire also stared at me and then finally she sauntered over to me and inquired about my dance card for this evening. Of course, I hadn’t yet begun to fill it. Then I noticed her outstretched, trembling hand. Her hand bore a note from my Jean-Paul. Properly he requested to be on my dance card, and said he could not wait to see me again. The note also had this short poem embedded:
The Ebb and Flow of Love
Star crossed lovers
Much like the Seine
Winding through Paris
Looking for the same
Kind of wandering path
Like the river beds
Hoping for the moment
That water treads
On the banks of our
Love may envelope
And never depart
Oh, I can hardly wait to see him again tonight with his strong, masculine shoulders and bright blue eyes. My beloved Jean-Paul is so dashing in his uniform. Yet here I am clutching myself, and shivering on this cold morning.
Laurie Epps is a senior at Anderson University majoring in Creative Writing. Already Laurie is most published as a feature article writer, essayist, and poet. A seeker of beauty and world traveler, Laurie hopes to grow into a career in travel writing illuminating the many stories that make us human despite our differences. Currently, Laurie also has a Monday Morning Book Club column dedicated to writers everywhere.