Dying Niobid.

A young man came late, flinging wide the door, letting in chatter from the hallway. She felt the movement of air through the hair below her belly. Mr. Gianni sputtered angrily, something about his disrespect for the model. She willed herself not to twitch an eyelid--Venus hadn't for more than twenty centuries--but to look out the doorway into the corridor of people, like an immortal work of art. The discovery of control when the truth of her body was laid bare allowed her to float above the room.

Moving her eyes only, she looked down with a hint of scorn at the latecomer, and felt a growing awareness that her expression could render her naked or nude. By her attitude, she could show herself or clothe herself with the aura of antiquity. At the next pose which Mr. Gianni also let her choose--one of The Three Graces, left foot back, with only the toe balanced against the floor--she gave the latecomer her back.

Unevenly placed weight was a mistake, she discovered. A thin line of pain traveled up the arch of her left foot and the back of her calf. Trying to control its quiver only made it spread. That alone would have told Mr. Gianni she'd never done this before, but she was sure he'd surmised it from the start. There was more than one kind of grace, and he had the grace not to let on. Her next pose was more even. And the one after, Dying Niobid, down on one knee, brought her eye to eye with the students, into a more intimate relation. She realized the four short poses were not for them, but for her, to decide which was comfortable enough to hold for an hour and a half. Standing was actually better, she decided. No wonder Niobid was dying. The cramp in her own knee was killing her.