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I broke my little finger. The tiniest of tiny fractures. I couldn’t laugh about it yesterday. But because it’s today I laugh. Such a silly thing to do.
I rest the beautiful book of 19th−20th century art, from the Städel Museum, on my lap and open it to page 101.
It’s the painting my daughter fell in love with.
It depicts a woman on the stage. She is taking a bow.

Deepest violet is the shade of the skin that is stretched over my knee. Swollen bruise purple, darkening in patches, nauseous greenish-grey in others. I try to adjust the ice pack because it is burning. As I’m wondering why ice gives a burning sensation I realise that I can’t bend my little finger. It’s turning violet too.

My daughter sits wedged up against me, her back is stiff. She clutches my shoes and bag to her chest protectively. Her eyes are wide. We are drowning in the noise of protesters, it vibrates around us angrily. Placards are being waved and slogans screamed. Women’s Rights! Women have the right to choose! It’s our body! Women’s Rights! Straight faced police march alongside the protesters, clearing the way. Some cycle at the rear. My daughter looks at the blood dripping down my knee. Her face breaks. She bursts into tears.

I didn’t stumble or do that crazy-slapstick-silent-movie-arms-windmilling-in-slow-motion fall.
I was walking.
Then my face was introduced to Swanston Street.
Pain lit up my leg like it had been rocket launched into my thigh bone ricocheting into my brain. There was no time to feel embarrassed, all I could think of was getting my daughter off the middle of the road.
A face peered down at mine. I can hear words. “Are you okay?”
Do I look okay?
Someone points up the street at a near-by bench seat.

I stood holding my daughter’s hand, waiting for the familiar noise the traffic lights make when it’s time to cross. Bipbipbipbipbipbipbip. The sidewalk was crowded. Usual for Melbourne city. But particularly so for this intersection, the corner of Swanston street and Bourke Street. Twenty, maybe thirty people milled on the edge of the pavement, hovering, waiting to cross. I’m alert. Mother alert. Strangers are everywhere … though I am soon to find out most strangers are helpful.

We stand side by side looking at a Renoir titled: La fin du déjeuner, After the luncheon.
“Look at the spray of lilacs on her dress and hat.” I say to my daughter. She points to the man in the painting. “Is he smoking?” She asks. “I think so.” I say tentatively. She wrinkles her nose and walks a little to the left. I watch her face and see her fall in love with art for the first time.
Her heart belongs to Edgar.
Edgar Degas.
The painting is called Musiciens à l’orchestre, Orchestra Muscians. One of his series of ballet and operatic representations inspired by the Paris Opéra. She cannot take her eyes away from it. We discuss perspective and the luminous quality of the dancers. The darkness of the muscians in the foreground, the way your eye is drawn up over their backs and into the space where the beautiful dancer stands, on stage, off centre.
“Shall we go have lunch?” I ask her. “In a minute Mummy.” She says. “I just want to look at this one a bit longer.”

As we walk alongside the famous wall of water at the galleries entrance I have a little rush thinking that my daughter will see her first Picasso today.
And her first Van Gogh.
Her first Renoir, Matisse, Monet, Sisley, Cézanne, Delacroix, Courbet.
Artists I am in love with.
She’s excited.
I make a little mental note to take it all in because this will be a day I will want to remember forever.

This post is dedicated to Rosa, someone who shares my passion for art. Thank you for the writing prompt: “Purple”.

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