Fragment Friday this week is an excerpt from my upcoming collection of horror stories, A Sinister Six. This is taken from The Girl In The Park, a love story stretching over the life of one man, and his relationship with a young woman he met as a boy A woman that hasn’t aged a day throughout his life. Enjoy:
It was several years later that she appeared to me again. Exactly when, I cannot say for sure, but I recall I had been working on one of the flowerbeds behind the big house, and was returning my equipment to the storage sheds, in the small courtyard alongside the house. I happened to glance up at the house, and saw her. She stood silently, halfway up the stone staircase. I let go of the wheelbarrow I had been pushing, and stood upright. My first though was that she looked exactly the same as the first time I had seen her; her blonde hair lay against her back and flowed over her shoulders, untroubled by the light breeze; the red of her lips contrasting with her alabaster skin. The pale nightshirt she wore looked as it always had; the red stain was present as was the small bow that I remembered from my childhood.
The momentary giddiness I felt when I saw her passed, and I was left with was the realisation of her beauty. The juxtaposition of her serene countenance with the spreading bloodstain was not lost on me, and my eyes went from the stain to her face, and back again, before settling on her face, which she now turned to me.
It was not the first time our eyes had met, but I noticed, for what felt like the first time, her eyes; they were the deepest blue, and trained intently on me.
I immediately felt self-conscious, and looked down at my soil-stained clothes. I brushed my hands down my stomach and thighs, in an attempt to make myself look presentable. As I stood, I raised a hand to my head, brushing my long hair – which was the style at the time – away from my eyes. My hand continued to the top of my head, finding the thinning patch that had been forming for the last few months. Returning my hands to my side, I raised my head, and once more regarded this young woman.
I felt blood rush to my face as I looked at her; she must have been half my age, maybe more. Clearing my throat, I spoke to her for the first time. I told her my name, and asked hers. Nothing more. She smiled at me, causing my knees to sag; visibly, I expect. Again, the ridiculous nature of our relationship skipped through my mind. Her smile didn’t reveal her teeth, but if it had, I imagined that they would have been perfect. She turned, and began to move back up the steps, toward the house. She paused momentarily, inside the entrance, appearing to look at one of the many paintings hanging there. It was only the briefest of pauses, before she looked back at me, and moved into the house.
I stood for a moment, watching her ascend the stone staircase, transfixed by her golden hair that reached half way down her back. Stepping around my barrow, I moved after her, first at a walk, then at a run.
Taking the steps two at a time, I reached the top as she disappeared out of sight into the house. I followed, but when I entered the house, she was gone. I searched the long corridors and ran up the curving staircases, but I could not find her. She was gone.
Disheartened, I returned to the picture she had been looking at. Of itself, it was unremarkable; a portrait of a woman, presumably a former resident of the house. Try as I may, I could not see my mystery woman in the face. Looking around, I lifted the picture off the wall and turned it over. I ran my hand over the smooth backing-board, and felt nothing. After a further glance around me, I removed the tiny pieces of metal that held the board in place. Removing it, I ran my hands around the inside of the frame, before holding it up to the light. I could find no anomalies, so I replaced the backing-board, and returned the picture to its original position.
I returned to my duties, little knowing I would only have to wait days to see her again, and this time, like the last, she appeared on the stone steps leading up to the house.
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