Lisa Like A Statue
Photograph by Phil Sharp, Story by Will White
Summer was at full stretch. The street I walked up was long and narrow and the morning sun hung above the house at the top of the street like a balloon full of helium held by a child.
I rung on the bell took a few steps back and waited. A dog barked as the door swung open.
Her name was Lisa. Her hair was golden. We had friends in common who were getting married and they put us in touch to travel to the wedding together.
‘He’s obsessed with me’
She said when I laughed at her dog following her back and forth from living room to hallway, up and down the stairs.
Lisa was driving. We got in an old ’91 canary yellow Golf, which was covered in dog hair and old quilts.
‘It was my uncle’s’ she said gesturing to the car we sat in ‘He left the country’ she lit a cigarette off the car cigarette lighter ‘My Dad said I’d have to leave the country to get rid of this thing’ she laughed through her nose. I didn’t quite get the joke and I wound down the window.
Ella was an old school friend of mine and Fred was Lisa’s ex. They met while Fred was at RADA, now they were getting married. The marriage of friends always sends others sideways.
‘Bastard cheated on me’ Lisa said about Fred ‘you ever cheated on someone?’
She looked at me funny ‘Why the pause?’
‘Well, when I was like 18’
‘So was he’
‘Oh. Then yes. We only kissed though’
‘Hmm, still’ she half smiled
The stereo was playing a mix tape. Bill Withers. Grandma’s Hands came on and Lisa sung the whole song loudly, mumbling the lines she didn’t know.
The heat bounced off the canary yellow, the weight in the air hugged my neck and we left the city.
We pulled up to a large country mansion, the gravel in the driveway gave Lisa little option but to just see where the car lands. She raised her eyebrows as the car settled at an awkward angle, narrowly missing a Land Rover.
‘That could have been worse!’ she said in relief
We crossed the gravel to the main entrance where a young girl stood in a red waistcoat and white gloves as if she were serving the Queen. She put her gloved finger to her lips to shush us and carefully opened the door to where the ceremony was already slugging its way along. We sat at the back patiently waiting for it to end.
After, at one of the tables covered in a tight white sheet by the buffet
‘I’m never getting married. All this money on one day’
‘It’s a bit extravagant’
‘It’s irresponsible!’ she was drunk now.
Fred appeared, looking handsome and expensive
‘Lisa! How are you? Thanks for coming’
Lisa stood up and hugged him without saying a word. He looked over to me, puzzled for a moment. He was either unsure of who I was or unsure of Lisa’s reaction. Luckily, Ella arrived behind him
‘Ella!’ I said standing up
‘Thanks for coming!’
‘Thank you!’ Ella crumbled with emotion
I really liked Ella, but I wasn’t keen on him, he was an actor.
That was it, they were off to the next table to do and say the same thing.
‘Fucking asshole’ Lisa leaned over to me as they walked off and I could kind of see what she meant, inexplicably.
The best man speech was as boring as the ceremony. I was sure I had heard those anecdotes before at another wedding. We snuck out to wander about the grounds. Dogs played on the grass. Lisa took her
shoes off and stood in the pool of the water-fountain.
The sun was going down and her silk pink dress was hanging from her shoulders like a statue. Her heels in her hand and her golden hair clouded in smoke from the cigarette in her mouth.
Why has no one carved a statue like that? I thought to myself
With a pair of heels hanging from her fingers
I sat on the grass and looked at her for a while, swaying there, clearly trying to connect with something she couldn’t get to feeling.
‘Did you and Ella ever have a thing?’
‘I’ve been with all the guys I know’ Lisa threw the cigarette butt into the water.
‘I’m fucking thirty years old!’ she said shaking her head.
Later on I was speaking with one of Ella’s brothers about who we still see from school when I saw Lisa hanging off a burly guy on the dance floor. He had his hands on her hips and her head was hanging back looking up at the ceiling, eyes half open. The world dropped in weight. I walked over and rested my hand on her back
The guy looked at me. I gave him a matter of fact smile and he lifted his hands up in surrender with a smug grin. She collapsed onto me and I took her up to her room, lay her on the bed on her side. As I left, I hit the light but it felt wrong, plunging her into darkness, so I flicked it back and went to my room.
She didn’t mention anything about it in the morning and we drove back to London with the windows wide open. Her dog was barking like crazy when we pulled up outside the house.
‘Come round sometime for a tea or something’ she said
The next day I walked out to the park. I lay down in the middle of the big green triangle and watched the starlings swoop back and forth before disappearing behind a row of houses, leaving the Klein blue sky to look down on me. The wind whipped my shoulder and I closed my eyes. I felt the same as Lisa I just couldn’t bring myself to say it.
Phil Sharp was born in west london in 1979 and now lives in Tottenham with wife Rebekah and daughter Grey.
He works for various editorial and commercial clients and is london’s leading head shot photographer.