Erin stepped back from the easel; she finally got it right. She’d been trying for months to paint this. A transient, ephemeral vision. She knew she dreamed of it, but she couldn’t quite capture its essence, its shape. Something waited for her inside. But she had no clue what. She wanted to reach for it; something…
She startled. Faced Kyle. Smiled.
“So? Ready for prom?”
He asked wrapping his arms about her waist, leaning on her shoulder. She’d never really been exciting about prom. Not until she started dating Kyle some months ago, after her accident. Everyone worried: but Kyle spent hours by her side at the hospital, refusing to leave unless she was ok.
She had a transient ischemic attack, something extremely rare for someone her age. They said it might affect her memory, which probably was why she could never quite recall her dreams: she was convinced she had no issue with that before. She’d always had vivid dreams. But try as she might, she couldn’t conjure one of them.
And good it was her father said: it was time she stopped living in dreams. Apparently she used to prattle on about a place called something she couldn’t recollect, a king and two princes, whose names she couldn’t remember. It was so annoying; she’d had such a good memory before. Anyway, her father thought it was good that a nice guy like Kyle would ensure she did.
“You seem perplexed love.”
Kyle whispered in her ear kissing her neck. She giggled.
“Stop. It tickles.”
“What’s going on?”
“It’s weird. My memory’s ok; for the most part. I mean, I remember my lessons and even if I struggle with concentration after a while, I haven’t failed an exam yet. But this…” She pointed to the painting. “I can’t remember…And… I feel I should.”
“It’s just a painting, a product of your wonderful imagination.” She shrugged again. Maybe he was right. “Besides, I’m sure someone will commission you to draw for books soon. You’re a genius. And I’ll be able to brag that my girlfriend is the most talented illustrationist ever.”
“You’re silly. And illustrationist isn’t even a real word.”
“Yes it is. I say so.”
He made her turn and kissed her.
“Don’t worry about it. Dreams aren’t as important as you and me. Or as your art scholarship for university.”
He was right. She nodded.
“Now about that dress.”
She laughed and pushed him away.
“You won’t get to know about the dress. It’s a surprise.”
“It’s not a wedding dress. I can see it before hand. How am I going to choose a corsage?”
Erin told him to ask her mom: she was better at matching outfits than her daughter. Erin would live in dirty jeans and painting overalls if it were up to her. And yet, she had a sense that she could dress up in old fashioned gowns and dance, as if she were born a royal. Her imagination.
Following Kyle out of the painting studio, Erin cast one last glance at her canvas. ‘Declan’, she heard. She shook her head. Weird. Suddenly the world turned upside down; she must have fainted. She was in a marbled room, kneeling by an old man whose face was parchment white; he looked as if he were just recovering from a long illness. Her father… or at least in this world.
“Don’t do it love. He holds your memory in thrall.”
She looked up; a man standing at least 6 feet looked at her with all the love in the world.
“By the gods, you remember. You finally do.”
“We don’t have time. Keep it secret.”
She opened her eyes; she was lying on the floor of the studio, again. Like that day months ago. And Kyle was kneeling by her side, her head in his lap while, Mrs Jennings held her hand; for a fleeting moment, there was a shadow passing over his face, then it was gone.
“Are you ok love?”
It tasted like ashes in her mouth. How could he?
“I don’t know. What happened?”
“You fainted. Again. A real damsel in distress.”
She smiled – it hurt but she did.
“You’re my knight in shining armour.”
She pretended not to hear bringing her attention to Mrs. Jennings instead.
“You haven’t called the paramedics yet?”
“Of course I have, after what you did last time. No way.”
In the ambulance she felt woozy. Tired. The medic didn’t let her sleep though. She was rushed through a million exams again as Kyle called her parents. Eventually she was in the hospital bed and she did fall asleep. She couldn’t avoid holding Kyle’s hand though. It would have been weird. And in her dreams, he stood, in a place that looked like nothing she’d ever painted before. It was a world of shadows and smoke. He looked mean here.
“Hey Erin.” No love, no gentleness in the tone. There was only sarcasm.
“You remembered today, didn’t you?”
“Everything… or at least the beginning of it. I won’t let you. You can’t travel worlds Erin. Not until you can control your voyages. Until then you’re dangerous. I keep your memory in safekeeping for that day.”
“But if I don’t remember how can I control my travels?”
From the look on his face, she knew she shouldn’t have asked. That was the point. He flew – or? He didn’t appear corporeal – and kissed her. The smoke entered her body and she lost track of time.
She woke up with her parents right next to the bed.
“You gave us another fright baby girl.” Her mother said.
“Thank God Kyle was here.” Her dad added.
Kyle was holding her hand. She smiled weakly. She was so lucky he loved her so much. What guy his age wanted a broken girlfriend? She truly hoped he’d like her prom dress.
A little white ago I wrote this story; it was meant to be a stand alone but somehow when I saw today’s Tale Weaver prompt I knew I would do a follow-up.