The Absinthe Drinker, by Edgar Degas
“Should I approach the ruffian to my left? He smells of piss and the docks of Rotterdam. I wonder if that is because he has recently been with a woman. He looks like he would believe me if I told him I were to have a virginal birth.”
She sank lower in her seat, and her eyelids passed over the shimmering green glass and dropped down to the golden scarf. “This was give to me by the man who called me his “ginger puss,” for my rust colored hair, and, I suspect, my inverted nipples. He was a Swiss warlock, cast out from Lausanne, and once told me that in Switzerland there is a legend of the absinthe fairy. If you drink this, they say, at twilight in Amsterdam, she will give you visions in which she takes the form of the father. The next day he bid me farewell.”
She picked up the glass and let all the absinthe slide down her throat. After a few minutes, she began to shake the man next to her, “You got me pregnant!” she yelled in his face. He turned to her, still with his hand-rolled tobacco still tight between his lips and said, “Remove your hands from me and I’ll tell you who did it. It wasn’t me. I once had an unfortunate pony accident.”
Her eyes shone bright with hopeful tears. “He was a virgo. Very little arm hair,” he said, gazing deeply into her amber eyes. “A Jesuit priest. An alchemist. A correspondent of Helen of Troy.”
He leaned closer and she could smell hints of vanilla. “Sound familiar?” he breathed. She recripocated the gesture and hugged her body to him with a new ferocity. “Oh thank you, my sweet fairy!”
She walked out into the red lights, determined to reunite with her prince.