Some Enchanted Evening

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Robert is lonely when he meets a beautiful girl but he may soon find out that all that glitters is not gold. Inspired by the song of the same name by Indians In Moscow.

Submitted: April 08, 2016

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Submitted: April 08, 2016




Some Enchanted Evening.

Robert Haig was sad and he was lonely.
 He was sad because his parents weren't talking to each other. They would talk to him, trying to get him on their own sides but he refused to get involved in yet another of their squabbles. If he talked to his father, his mother would sulk; if he talked to his mother, his father would storm off and not reappear again until late. No, the best course for him was to stay away from both of them until they'd reached some sort of truce.
Robert was also sad about his life. He wanted to paint more than anything but he was being pressed in to other directions. His father wanted him to go into insurance so they could work alongside each other. His mother wanted him to go into accountancy like she and his grandfather had done. She didn't really push it though as she hadn't worked for years. School, on the other hand, wanted him to build on his natural flair for science. They strongly recommended that he should continue his education either in a branch of chemistry or physics.
Nobody cared what he wanted. Nobody was interested in his own aims in life. Robert knew that if he mentioned his desire to become a painter he would be ridiculed.
The loneliness was very real. His parents had moved him to a remote cottage in Cornwall when he was sixteen. Not that Robert had a lot of friends to leave at his previous school. He had never been one to join in the social life. He was a loner and the other students there had left him alone. As time went on he became friends with fellow misfits Marty and Kev. They had promised to keep in touch.
At first the texts and emails were pretty regular. They would keep Robert informed of any important events at school. They would even send him news of some overheard pieces of gossip.
Robert had not made any friends at his new school. He wasn't picked on or bullied; he was just ignored. There was nothing to pass on to Marty and Kev apart from academic events and they just weren't that interesting. The texts had got fewer, the emails had got shorter and now they rarely happened at all.
Still, wasn't that what inspired great art - sadness and loneliness? Whenever it was dry Robert would take out a sketch book and draw; or if the weather was really nice he would carry his easel down towards the woods and paint. He was reasonably content.

Robert had spent several hours in front of a canvas with paintbrush in hand but he just could not get started. His room was becoming cluttered with his paintings and drawings of this forest and he wanted to do something different.
As the sun came out from behind a cloud it bathed a different part of the forest in an almost golden glow. Robert hastily picked up his easel and paints and moved them around. If he could just capture the light on the leaves, the sunlight before it faded in to the shadows of the trees, this picture could be one of his best.
Robert looked up and Robert painted. He didn't pause for a critical glance but ploughed on, putting yellow here, green there. He was only too aware that the opportunity to capture this sight was going to be short-lived. The sun would change position and the golden glow would be gone.
It wasn't until the last stroke of the brush was made that Robert realised how late it had become. The evening was beginning to darken and yet the golden glow was still slightly visible in amongst the trees. Robert blinked and rubbed his eyes. When he looked again the glow had gone. He dismissed it as an imaginary effect brought on by his desperation to finish his painting which, he thought, had turned out very well.

The next few days were wet. It was not a gentle drizzle, wet where shelter could be found under branches, but a downpour, a torrent that kept Robert indoors. Wanting to maintain his neutrality in the parental war, he kept to his own room as much as he could.
He found himself repeatedly drawn to his painting of the previous day. He loved it, thought it was the best he had ever done. But it wasn't quite right. As he was stuck indoors he would work on it, correct it, make it a true masterpiece.
Hour after hour Robert studied the painting, putting a brush full of paint here, a dab of paint there. For two days Robert worked on it and on the second evening he realised what he had done. He had ruined it! There was no question about it; what had been good was now nothing more than a mess.
Feeling the depression of a failed artist, Robert decided to have an early night. Sleep was instant and sudden but it didn't last. After a few hours he was awake again and couldn't help noticing the patch of light on his curtains.
It must be really clear, free of clouds, for the moon to glow so brightly. It would be cold but it would be dry. He would go out in the morning and paint his picture again.
He tossed and turned but the glow didn't move.
Robert dragged himself out of his bed to look. There in the forest at the same place he painted his picture was the glow. It was too far to be certain but Robert was sure that in the glow a figure stood. He ran downstairs and out of the door, but even as he approached the trees he could see that the goldenness had gone.

The next day did indeed turn out to be dry and sunny. Almost as soon as he woke Robert packed up his paint and his easel. He selected a new canvas and made his way down to the forest.
As he approached he found that he was holding in his breath in anticipation, but there was no glow to be seen. Robert's breath escaped in a despondent sigh. The indentations the feet of the easel had made previously were obvious. He was in the right place but the glow just wasn't there.
Robert set up his easel and studied the forest. He could just make out what could have been a pathway into the trees many years ago. It was now overgrown and impassable. He painted the trees either side of the pathway and tried to imagine what it once might have been like.
So engrossed in his thoughts Robert became that he didn't even notice the beginning of a brightness, just the spark of light. He did not even notice until the glow became quite bright. He held his breath, he kept painting and he was sure that he heard a faint gentle giggle.
Hardly daring to move Robert Haig lifted his eyes from the canvas and there before him stood the most beautiful girl that he had ever seen. Her hair was long, a deep golden colour, and her skin seemed to give off a pale light. The dress she wore was straight from the Oscars, long and full-skirted; a bronze creation made from something like satin.
He had to paint her, had to prove to himself that she was really there. He tore his eyes away from her and painted as though his life depended on it. She stood, still and silent, until suddenly she just seemed to vanish.
Robert could hardly stay standing, such was his disappointment but he forced himself to look critically at his canvas. There she was, looking out from the trees. His painting had captured her perfectly.

Robert returned home after finishing his painting. He was suddenly so tired he felt as though he would never reach the house. His art equipment was heavy in his arms and his legs felt as though he was trudging through wet sand. The stairs up to his room were like a mountain he had to climb, but climb it he did.
Unusually for him, Robert did not put away his paints and brushes but left them where they fell on his desk. He placed his newly finished picture where he could easily see it and flopped down on his bed.
He could not take his eyes from the girl. Painting people had never been one of his artistic strengths but he honestly thought that he had recreated her image perfectly. As his eyes started to close, his lids too heavy to resist closing, he was sure that the painting itself started to glow.
Robert woke late in the night. He seemed to remember that his mother had called him, that she had tried to wake him to come down to dinner. He knew that he hadn't got up.
The curtains in front of his window were still open. It had been daylight when he had collapsed into an exhausted slumber. There was some sort of pull on him, something calling to him so Robert sat up and slowly stumbled towards the window. He looked towards the forest.
And there was the glow, brighter than ever. And standing quite clearly in view was the girl. She seemed to be staring straight at him.

First thing the next morning Robert was off, back towards the forest. He once again set up his easel in exactly the same place and again painted the trees around the edge of the path. He would pay more attention, be more observant and would see the approach of this strange and beautiful girl.
Who she was he had no idea. Robert was not aware of any close neighbours at all. If the atmosphere at home was not so strained he would ask his parents who she could be but this row was a big one and he would not get involved.
From deep in the woods he could see a tiny light, like the flame of a match. But no, perhaps he was imagining it. It didn't get bigger, didn't get nearer. It just vanished.
Back to painting. Had he ever put so much detail to a single tree before? He didn't think so but he had to keep painting; had to keep working. And then he looked up and she was there.
Robert was struck momentarily dumb. He had never been one to find it easy or a pleasure to introduce himself but he couldn't stand the thought that his social awkwardness might put her off or scare her away.
Hesitantly he said, "Hello." His voice came out barely more than a whisper. Did she hear him? She was holding a finger in front of her lips, silencing him.
The girl studied him and Robert studied her back. He felt acutely embarrassed but found that he could neither walk or look away. It was as though he was held in a trance.
And then she spoke, her voice both light and musical. "Violetta. Violetta Aurelia."
Her voice was beautiful, musical, magical. There was some sort of exotic accent, one that Robert couldn't place.
"Robert." He thought how coarse his own voice sounded compared to hers, how plain his own name was. He tried to soften his voice. "Robert Haig."
Violetta reached out her hand and Robert took it. And at that moment, although he didn't know it, Robert was lost.

When he looked at his painting that evening he was disappointed. It was a good painting, a good likeness. Violetta's beauty was obvious. But there was something missing, an inner glow that he just couldn't capture on canvas.
Robert thought back to that afternoon. Violetta was not at all self-conscious, and was delighted by his efforts at painting her portrait. She did not say much but seemed content to just stand at the end of that path for what must surely have been hours.
It had seemed to Robert that some sort of music was playing, way in the distance. But whenever he strained to hear it better there was only silence. He wanted to ask Violetta if she heard it too, but he was too embarrassed. Besides, if he really was imagining it he could scare her away, for surely she would think that he was mad.
Although he hadn't been afflicted with exhaustion today, he had almost immediately fallen into another deep sleep. Once again his mother was unable to wake him and he missed another dinner.
When he rose in the night to look from the window he found that he could see Violetta quite easily even though she was as far away as the previous evening. And was that an owl on her shoulder and a fox by her side? When he looked again he was disappointed but not surprised to find that she had vanished.

As Robert walked down towards the forest on what promised to be yet another day of sunshine, he realised that he had not eaten at all for several days. He was not hungry. The thought of food did not interest him at all.
Although he carried his paints and easel he did not really feel like painting. Robert had no belief that he could ever capture the image of the girl so well again. There seemed little point to him to even attempt it.
Violetta had other ideas though. She wanted Robert to paint her again, wanted him to do it in even more detail. Violetta wanted Robert to paint the perfect portrait. And to his surprise he did just that.
When he finally applied the last stroke of paint, Violetta examined it. He watched as she reached out a finger to the canvas.
"Careful," he warned. "The paint won't have dried yet."
If she heard his words, Violetta ignored them. She touched her finger to the canvas and it did not smudge. A glow appeared around her image and now the portrait was a perfect likeness.
Violetta turned to smile at Robert. "Tomorrow we will walk."

Back at home Robert placed the perfect portrait on top of his previous attempt then set about giving his brushes a thorough clean. Normally obsessive about caring for his art supplies, Robert had been too exhausted to care for the last few days. He would not need his paints in the morning, or his brushes, canvas and easel, so he would give them the proper care that they had earned.
It was a mystery to him why a beautiful girl such as Violetta was chosing to spend time with him. Robert was only too well aware that he was seriously lacking in the attractive sense. He was quite short, with mousey hair that always stood up in the wrong places. His eyebrows were too thick, his nose too long, his chin stuck out a bit too much. Altogether he was a bit of a puny specimen.
But Violetta liked him. She sought him out and spent her days with him. He couldn't be all bad then, surely. Almost tempted to inspect himself in the mirror, Robert stopped himself. He didn't want to be confronted by his own short-comings. He wanted the magic of the afternoon to continue.
Robert lay on his bed and stared at the portrait. He could almost feel Violetta's hand in his. When he closed his eyes Robert instantly fell in to a deep and dreamless sleep and this time he did not wake up in the night.

There was no sign of Violetta when Robert arrived at the forest the next morning. Without her next to him Robert found the trees and the darkness intimidating. And the forest was strangely silent. Where was the twitter and chirping of birds, the rustle of leaves in the wind? Where were the scuttling sounds that normally accompanied a forest?
Robert moved a few steps further from the forest's edge, keeping his eye on the path the entire time. Again he saw the flickering light far off down the path. It looked like nothing more than a floating flame as it drew nearer to him. A curve in the path made it vanish from view.
Robert strained his eyes in search of it, walking sideways to try for an unobstructed view. There was no sign of the flame but Violetta appeared along the path looking more beautiful than ever.
Were they butterflies that fluttered either side of her head? There was definitely a family of rabbits hopping along by her side. When she caught sight of him, Violetta smiled and all Robert's unease over the forest disappeared.
Violetta stayed just inside of the trees and held out her hand towards Robert. Without hesitation he walked towards her, not even noticing how the ground cleared in front of him to allow him unhindered entry.
Robert only had eyes for the beautiful girl before him. He felt her hand take hold of his and he willingly walked beside her further into the forest. He only had ears for her musical voice. He did not notice the sound of laughter, not magical but cruel. He did not hear the plants covering the path behind them forming an inescapable barrier between himself and the world of home.
The light was fading, the glow had gone. When Violetta turned towards him again Robert was horrified. Instead of her beautiful face there was one so hideous it made him retch. The skin was patchy and hung in strips; the eyes so large and blue before were now nothing more than blood-red slits. A loud cackle escaped her lips, her open mouth exposing scant sharp teeth, gums almost black in colour.
Robert tried to pull his hand from hers, Violetta's but not Violetta's. The fingers so gentle, the skin so soft had now turned into a clawed leathery hide. The claws were curled inwards, impaling his hand. He could feel the blood as it trickled it's way down between his fingers.
The butterflies were not butterflies but bat-like creatures with blind white eyes and fangs that dripped either venom drool. The tips of their wings were viscously spiked. The rabbits were now some kind of goblin-like creatures. In a moment of clarity Robert thought of gremlins from the movie. They were fur-less, leathery grey, with large ears, bulbous eyes and mouths so full of needle teeth that they would not properly close.
Somehow Robert managed to turn. Roses surrounded him, black, purple and red. They exuded a scent of blood and rot and their thorns tore into his cheek.
The scream that escaped from Robert's mouth was an inhuman sound in an inhuman place. The forest took the sound and swallowed it whole. Nobody could have heard it.

When Robert didn't return home that night his parents were worried. When he was still missing the following morning they put aside their differences and tried to comfort each other as they waited for the police to arrive.
The police had no answer. Contact was made with both Marty and Kev but neither of them had heard from Robert for weeks and had no idea who his current friends could be.
If anyone noticed the pile of ash in Robert's room they dismissed it as insignificant. The paintings he had left there were no help, just pictures of trees, trees and yet more trees.
The ground had hungrily soaked up any trace of blood.
With no evidence that a crime had been committed, and with no reason to think otherwise, Robert Haig was presumed to be just another missing teenager like thousands of others.


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