The Picture Girl

Reads: 108  | Likes: 3  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 2

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by AdamCarlton

‘Do you like my moles?’

'Do you like my moles?'

It was a glorious sunny day in March, the warmest day of the year so far, when I met the girl who changed my life. Lately, I’d taken to walking alone in the countryside carrying the worries of the world on my shoulders, to lift my sinking spirits, my heavy heart. It was unusual in the extreme for me to encounter anyone on my lonely rambles here, between the Tye and the Green.

Arriving outside the village hall at midday, I stood at the far end of the gravel car park, facing the empty children’s playground. There were mellow sounds playing within the still air, a brook wending-trickling its way through the nearby thicket, the modest song of a blackbird concealed, no voice or other signs of life. The harsh glare of the sun blinding me, I unscrambled the insides of my rucksack, took out my sunglasses, cap, and rambling boots, threw them on, and set off.

The forest glade walk, as I call it, takes you across open farmland, skirted by muddied streams, clusters of bluebell woods, decaying corpses of trees felled by ruthless spring storms. After ten minutes following a grassy field-edge path, a mile of hawthorn in bloom, I reached a farmyard, then the village church. I hadn’t written seriously since the invasion. The invasion sapped me of my creative energy, my will to write. I used to write, once, used to write character. To me, character is all.

Shrugging off my rucksack, I pulled out a can of ginger beer, enjoying its cold elixir as I leaned on the mossy churchyard wall, and rested. Her grassy burial mound was there, right in front of me, her black marble headstone, the garland of red roses etched around her beautiful face. I’m sure I heard her voice. Startled, I stared at her grave. The church was a silent ruin. Its hallowed grounds were empty. Her voice faded, abruptly, into the dark recesses of my loving memory.

Hastily, I took the pebbled path across the churchyard, passing through an iron swing gate into an uncut field. After a hundred yards, I climbed a stile and took the footpath around the vast ploughed field. At the yellow waymark, I crossed the field, stumbling towards a distant line of trees, then followed an earth track skirting the devastated woodlands. Until I reached the forest glade.

The girl was standing, submerged in, hidden by, the smooth evergreen leaves of a cherry laurel tree. The rare, unusual tree bore fruit, clusters of round black berries. I didn’t understand at all: laurel trees don’t bear fruit until September. If I the tree’s unseasonal fruiting surprised me, the girl’s solitary demeanour astonished me even more.

She was tall and slender with a long swathe of auburn blonde hair which fell as far as her waist. I couldn’t see her face. I didn’t need to. I guessed she must be beautiful, judging by her brazen posture. The girl was wearing a crinkled obsidian green dress that hung in heavy drapes off her fleshy upper arms. I could clearly see the shadows in her armpits, the gilded root of her neck, her narrow shoulders, the full extent of her bare skin, stretching, as far as the small of her back. Her arms were tightly folded behind her lumbar region, one hand lightly caressing her forearm, the fingers of her other hand curled, flexing. She stretched her arms, sweeping her thick mane over her shoulder, revealing the miracle that lay beneath, enticing me with her beguiling words,

‘Do you like my moles?’

I was struck still. I didn’t understand at all: laurel trees don’t bear fruit until September, but her back bore moles, five of them, big milk chocolate smears spattering either side of her backbone. I marvelled at the divine pattern, the crowding of her moles, inside her shallow shoulder blades.

 I found my voice, couldn’t believe what I said, ‘They’re very beautiful. You’re very beautiful.’

She ignored my polite expression of admiration. I imagined the smile of pleasure, spread, over her concealed face, her lips, slowly parting,

‘I have more: tens, hundreds, thousands more, clustering, gathering, forming, all over my skin.’

 Thousands?

‘Would you like to see them?’ she said.

I confess, I was a little intrigued,

‘Yes,’ I replied, with considerably more bravado than I felt, ‘I would.’

‘Come closer to me then.’

I took a step forward. The ground felt heavy, clinging, beneath my feet. I stepped closer to her, until she felt my breath, my zephyr, on her back. Her body quivered. Her moles massed, moved, displaced around her body. The more closely I inspected the girl’s back the more they became apparent. She had hundreds, thousands of them. Moles of every hue, shade and colour: bitter-dark, milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, candy pink, germinal moles, and, most fascinating of all, her blood-red breeding moles. I felt weak, overwhelmed. I’d never seen such beautiful phenomena in all my life. I struggled to breathe, couldn’t speak.

She took the question out of my mouth, off my lips. She read the need that plagued my mind,

‘Oh, these are no ordinary moles,’ she said, happily, ‘If you rub my moles they come to life.’

I felt my body sag, the weight of it, the responsibility, the action I knew I had to take. I used to write once, used to write character, to me character is all. I felt an urge to write, felt a need to…

‘Rub my moles and I’ll take you on a thrill ride that you’ll never forget.’

The girl turned to face me. She had a childish face. I dreamed she would! Her other faces were plastered all over her back: iodine turned brown, sepia-coloured images, dun-faced individuals, gathering, clustering, in groups, couples, families. Her characters. I felt the urge to meet them.

The Picture Girl turned her back on me, inviting me to, ‘Rub my moles, I’ll take you there!’

I rubbed her first divine pattern, a pair of young faces, living inside her shallow shoulder blades.

And the first face came to life.


Submitted: November 28, 2022

© Copyright 2023 harriet-jacqui-furl. All rights reserved.

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Comments

ZELDA VAXANDORF

Magnificent! I truly ADORE this very much! Provocatively ethereal and sensationally gorgeous! My NEW favorite story! Thank you very kindly!

With Beautiful & Lovely Regards!

Sun, December 4th, 2022 9:19pm

Author
Reply

Thank you Zelda!

Mon, December 5th, 2022 3:37pm

AdamCarlton

It's been a long, time since I read your prose: a long and lonely time.

Thanks HJ! It's great to see you back! And moles: such a promised bonus...

Sat, December 10th, 2022 10:18pm

Author
Reply

Adam, it's wonderful to be back with you and all my cherished friends at Booksie - it's a lonely world out there!

Moles are coming home (in Thrill Ride!) - unlike England's World Cup chances, sadly!

Thank you for being such an incredible support,

HJx

Sat, December 10th, 2022 2:37pm

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