My Destiny…Maybe Not
The willowy brown haired girl was poised mid-skip between two light brown tree trunks. Many skinny branches intertwined above her head letting their vines cascade down her shoulders. Her pale foot was ankle deep in crystal blue water that was bubbling over smooth round stones. Her emerald green eyes sparkled and a shy smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.
I sighed and moved away from the painting of the wood nymph thing. I had no idea why Danielle, I mean mum, had dragged me here. Maybe it was a last effort to rekindle the closeness we’d lost after my father’s death. I didn’t really know but I’d much rather be home finishing of my English essay and that was saying something. Shrugging off the depressing thoughts I moved along to the next frozen moment of fantasy. My mother was in the toilets in another section of the huge Art Gallery. I’d tried to wait but I hadn’t been able to deny the need to visit my father’s favourite section of the Gallery, alone.
My mother will be pissed, upset and look at me with those hurt eyes and I’ll feel like crap, it was routine lately. I mean don’t get me wrong it wasn’t my mother’s fault. She wasn’t unreasonably mean or horrible. We just had very, very little in common. Art being one thing. I loved it, could spend hours looking at it, studying it, trying to decipher what frame of mind the artist had been in. My mother on the other hand would rather at a training session with the national A Grade soccer team who she coached.
I came to a stop in front of another painting. A group of woman sat in a circle around a deep indigo pond surrounded by dense forest. A glittering night sky and shiny blue moon lit up their features. All had glossy hair and unnaturally coloured eyes of violets, reds and silvers. They all had their arms raised to the heavens and mouths were in the motion of chanting.
The picture took me back to a happier time. A time where my small family had been happy and alive.
I sat curled up in a soft red armchair a thick book clasped in my hands. I was drowning in satin cushions with tiny sequins and velvet tasselly things. I was in a huge homestead recently re-furnished with expensive materials and objects. My mum had found it and thought it the perfect place to spend the last week of my summer holiday before I started grade four.
I looked up with the crisp white pages and plain black print to study the view outside the huge window across from me. A wrap around porch with white railing and some dark green creeper veins took up most of it. The whole place looked like it belonged on the cover of a magazine or in a cheesy Hollywood movie. It was way too perfect and me and perfect don’t go well together.
Just then my mum came through the door in jeans, hiking boots and a sleeveless top. Oh crap, bush walking. She gave me a bright smile as she walked closer.
“We’re going on a walk Dion, you ready?” she asked. I pouted up at her and lifted up my book to make sure she saw that I had been reading. She chuckled softly.
“Oh no,” she said taking the book out of my hands and snapping it shut. “That’s all you’ve been doing since we arrived here. Outside is beautiful and this walk only takes an hour.”
“But mum,” I whined. She raised an eyebrow and waited, “I mean, do I have to?”
“But nothing,” mum sighed.
“Are my two favourite girls fighting again?” came dads joking voice from the doorway.
“May-be” I sang.
“But why would you be fighting, I would have thought you would have wanted to explore the surrounding landscape. It’s a perfect place for a drawing. Actually it even reminds me a little of the area Cynthia explored in Night Dreams while trying to find the Wiccan women,” he said putting on a very fake confused voice but it caught my interest anyway.
“Oh yeah it does! Hey mummy could I maybe take a sketch pad?” My parents shared a knowing glance and Dad made a ‘go on’ gesture to my Mum, as I bounced in my seat.
“Oh definitely, I’ve even heard a group of witches used to live around here,” she coaxed.
I jumped up, “let’s go!”
We’d found a beautiful clearing with a small rock formation in the middle. My Mother and Dad had spun an amazing story of a group of witches who were seen there every full moon. I’d believed them until the end of the holiday and had spent almost everyday there with my Mother who had been overjoyed that I was spending time outside. It was one of the best memories I had of Mum.
With a small smile on my face I turned to look at the next picture and froze. It was my Dad’s favourite painting. It had been taken out of the showing room and put into storage years ago, I wonder why it had been brought back out.
The picture showed a dark lake surrounded by four vertical rocks at the bottom of a small knoll. A cloaked man stood at the lakes grassy edge a long staff in hand. He was staring out at the water where an arm had broken through the otherwise still water. It glowed an unearthly silver and proudly held a shiny sword.
On the top of the hill between two dark skeletal trees a grand silver unicorn stood, head held high on a strong neck. It’s mane and tail rippled from the unfelt wind. Above it in the sunset coloured sky the grey clouds formed an imposing dragon. With it’s wind outstretched to both sides of the painting and head stretched forward.
I’d never liked this painting, telling my Dad that it tried too hard. I mean come on a sword in the lake, wizard, unicorn and dragon in one go. It was just too much. I loved my paintings to tell stories and this one looked as if the artist couldn’t decide which story to tell so threw it all together.
My Dad had always said that it was a complicated story, because it had no ending. It wanted the viewers to finish it off. To except the sword, ride the unicorn and defeat the dragon with the help of the wizard. Again I’d always countered too much for a rather small-scale painting. He’d always laugh and say if I were ever chosen to finish it the painting wouldn’t stand a chance.
I felt a sudden chill sweep over me, raising the hairs on my arms. Shaking it off I looked around to see the small room was empty, except for me. Again a chilled wind swept over me, stronger this time. My eyes strayed back to the painting and I gasped in horror at what was happening in front of me.
The painting was overflowing it’s frame, expanding outwards and engulfing the Wiccan Coven and Dancing Nymph. I stumbled backwards in fright tripping over my feet, rasing my hand as if to ward it off. The shimmering canvas continued to spread and deepen, becoming 3D and life sized. From my shaking position on the cold tiled floor I stared in fear as the painting stop growing as it reached all four corners of the wall.
Suddenly everything stopped, froze as the silence pressed against my eardrums. Until suddenly a shrilled neigh echoed throughout the room. The unicorn reared up, pivoting on its hind legs to move it’s agile body so that it was standing horizontal to me. It motioned with it’s head towards it silky bare back. The cloud dragon also sprang to life. Spreading its great wings upwards leaving wispy tendrils of clouds in their wake.
A sudden movement closer to me caught my attention. The wickedly sharp and painfully real sword had been swung so that its deadly point was directed at me. The old man, who I’d called a wizard, lifted his wrinkled hands to pull up his hat. His deep black eyes bore into my own, studying my soul, reading my mind and leaving me feeling naked and exposed.
“Will you walk this path child?” The rough gravely voice startled me into action. Shaking like a leaf and thinking I had finally broken down like my therapist had wanted me to, I got to my feet. My legs felt thin and weak and my mind was blank. This isn’t real; I’m standing in front of a painting, a still picture that isn’t real and I just need to wake up or something. I finally found my voice.
“Hell no!” I responded before turning my numb body and rushing out the open double doors to my right. As I stepped across the threshold real life and noise caught up with me. I could once again hear the sharp clack of shoes hitting floor and the soft but constant muttering of the rooms other occupants.
“Dion, my God Dion thank goodness you’re ok!” I spun around to my left to see my mother rushing towards me. I suddenly felt drained and weak. I could feel a headache starting behind my eyes and I felt tears pricking at the corners of my eyes. I rushed forward and threw my arms around Mum. She stood frozen in the middle of the hallway for a second before fiercely returning my hug. She ran her thin fingers through my short hair in a comforting gesture I hadn’t felt from her since I was ten, four years ago.
“Mummy can we go home?” I felt her tense in my arms at the rarely used term.
“Of course sweetie, let’s go and maybe we’ll drop by Borders on the way,” she suggested.
“I’d really like that,” I murmured. As mum rested her arm across my shoulders to steer me to the exit I took one last look over my shoulder at the open door. I saw a young boy around my age walk through with a slightly older boy a step behind him. I wonder if it was their path I almost took? I was forced the thought out of my head and looked up at my Mums smiling face. My destiny was here, so here I would stay.