If you stand close enough, it looks like a bucket of light splashed over the canvas. You take a few steps back and a room flooded with the reflection of the Bosphorus is born. White walls, like linen washed and hung to dry in the sun, swirl around, crisp and imperfect.
The paintings, some as big as the window panes, others just a fraction of the size, mostly chosen with reasonable curatorial taste, create the illusion of beauty. Did anybody think before polluting all this whiteness with art?
She closes her eyes and imagines all the artworks gone, the space decluttered, the windows open, the sea breeze free to come in from any direction she sees fit and go round and round and round her as long as she wishes and play with her ears and the died black curls covering them.
There is a song in her head. She opens her eyes and walks to the window, squeezing her brain to remember what music it is that is jailed inside her. She puts her palms on the glass and gets as close as earthly possible to it and squints to see further than possible, trying to detect the Maiden Tower across the water. She isn’t entirely sure if it is the haze that prevents her or her eyesight, maybe it is too far for any normal eye to see that far. But is it really far? She closes her eyes again and sees the stone building and its irregular dome, its erected mast and the red flag.
The breeze is kept safely locked out. She walks around the room and inspects any area of the wall that is not covered with art. She doesn’t completely ignore the paintings, but looks at them with suspicion, the kind of suspicion that you look at your mother’s best friend you suspect having an affair with your dad. But when she comes face to face with a particular artwork, she surprises herself by feeling not the smallest trace of suspicion or discomfort or even unease. Imagine you are at the seaside and you collect pebbles of all sizes and colours. You put them all together on sand and create the shape of a body, of course not a perfect form, it is a figure in all its disfigured splendour. Then you pull out a white sheet of paper and run it over the pebbles, using your fingers to emboss the shape of each one in the paper. The result is an unadulterated interpretation of shape and it is white. She smiles.
As she inspects each of the roundish shapes, she plays with her toes, as if they are buried in sand. The smell of the sea plays with her nostrils and at that very moment she feels the breeze beginning to go round her legs. She turns around in a pleasant shock to investigate which window has been opened and who the source is to that immense act of kindness. The windows are still shut. A woman has walked past her, in a pace too brisk for the context. She follows her steps with her eyes and moves her head up slowly, from the tan, ankle-length boots to tight black jeans, the narrow camel belt, the white, white, white shirt. The mystery woman stops across from her and watches out the window. She likes her cropped, blond hair and the simple elegance that she carries.
She feels blood run fast to her face when the source of her excitement turns around to continue her visit. She rushes to turn back to the wall and stare at the white artwork. A drum roll is going on inside her chest and she feels as if she has been transported in time back to elementary school, when she had been naughty and waiting outside the classroom to be punished. She took a strange pleasure of that thing she didn’t recognise fully, that element of fear combined with not knowing. That expectation that had a taste of dread to it. She finds herself going up and down on her toes, fast and restless.
As she turns her head around, carefully, slowly, she sees the blonde already at the far end of the room, opening the sliding glass door and entering the café, talk to the waiter, point at the terrace outside and going straight to the other sliding door at the other end. She follows in her footsteps, into the café and out again to the terrace that sits quietly overlooking the strait. She leaves one table vacant in between but sits in the angle that gives her a direct view of breeze-maker.
It is now the empty terrace, the two of them, their Turkish coffees – one orta, half sugar, and one black, the occasional shriek of the seagulls and generous amounts of sea breeze. The blonde turns her head to the left and without hesitation says: “why did you sit that far?” Blood runs into her face again and she finds it impossible to respond. She smiles and her cheeks go red. She is a teenager again. She manages to look her in the eyes and bite her lower lip, which is now shaking and excited.
“Guess you won’t be coming to my table,” says the blonde, stands up, takes her cup and relocates to the seat beside her. She strokes her hand. What has she got in those fingers that is transmitted all around her body and fills her with desire. She closes her eyes and lets the electricity of those fingers running over her hand tantalise her, she imagines them the only creatures by the sea, without the ugly presence of waiters and customers and seagulls and bloody art galleries. She imagines the stylish garb of the blonde gone and her body shining. She quivers and holds her hand tight, that I want you and there is nothing else that I want more. The blonde watches her enjoy the moment. She squeezes her hand, too, and says: “my hotel is walking distance from here, just up the hill in Taksim. Fancy the short climb?”