Storytime Sunday is a weekly meme here at The Book Nut in which I (and my friend Laura) share some stories that we’ve used as writing practice. The stories may be older or they may be unpolished, keep that in mind as you read them. They are just writing practice. If you would like to submit one of your own stories for Storytime Sunday then you can email me, check the contact page.
Today’s story was written during my sophomore year of college, and was a sort of prequel to a story that I’d written in high school. The original story with these characters no longer exists except inside a notebook in a box somewhere. It will never see the light of day. And no, the name Edward has no relation to Twilight.
Its was a cold, dark, and rainy night. The wind wiped and roared about, making an awful racket outside. A dark figure stalked quickly up the path towards the house with a hood pulled tightly up over his head. He made it to the rickety, covered porch, shook the water from his person, and lowered his hood. Sighing, he stroked his damp, tangled beard and knocked on the cracked front door of the house. He stood back as the door swung open with a loud creak. The old woman inside smiled at him.
“Welcome back Mr. Allan,” she rasped, her voice as rusty as the old hinges holding the door to its frame.
“Hello Wilma,” he nodded, his deep voice warm and rich like hot chocolate or some exotic coffee. “Where is Edward?”
The old woman, who kept house for the absentminded painter, smiled.
“In his studio, as always.” she replied with a jerk of her head towards the creaky, winding staircase. Mr. Allan nodded knowingly and handed her his wet coat.
“I can announce myself Wilma, you can go back to what you were doing.” he said, making his way towards the stairs and wrinkling his nose as the squeaked and groaned under his weight.
“Why does he insist on living in this decrepit pile of sticks?” Allan mumbled to himself as he reached the landing. The wind whistled through a crack in a window making him shiver. “Creepy old house.”
Allan stopped in front of a cracked open door from which light shone through. He adjusted his shirt and stepped into the only brightly lit room in the entire house, Edward’s artist studio.
“Edward, my boy!” he greeted the young painter who didn’t respond and continued to look over his thick rimmed glasses at his work.
“Shut the door.” he mumbled, carefully mixing two colors together until he got the shade he wanted. “Beautiful.”
Allan looked over the young painter’s shoulder. He was painting a woman, a beautiful woman, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Except she didn’t yet have a face.
“Who is she?” Allan asked, tilting his head to the side as he studied the work intently.
“Her name,” Edward said, almost lovingly stroking his brush across the canvas, “is Cynthia.”
The way the name came across the young painter’s lips made Allan raise an eyebrow.
“Cynthia?” He turned back to the painting again and saw the way his friend had made the moonlight in the background glow off of her flawless skin. She was truly every man’s dream.
“She’s my Goddess.” Edward smiled and began to work on her face. “My great masterpiece.”
Allan nodded. “She is that.”
Edward’s stomach growled. Allan laughed. “When did you last eat?
Edward shrugged. “Sometime.” he muttered and Allan shook his head.
“I’ll have Wilma fix you something.” He went downstairs to talk to Wilma.
When he returned with a sandwich Edward was still where he had left him but the light in the room had gone dim.
“What happened to the light?” he asked, moving towards the painter. Edward didn’t answer, he didn’t move.
“Edward?” he questioned. Nothing. “Ed?”
Still nothing. He was staring at his painting unmoving.
“Edward, what….?” Allan trailed off, he had seen what his friend was staring at. He had finished the face. It was stunningly beautiful but something wasn’t right. Something was off. Allan leaned closer and saw the eyes. They were…alive. Really alive. It was disconcerting. And then they moved. Allan jumped.
“Holy mother… shit, what is that?!” He exclaimed, wide eyed. His gaze shifted to the painter. “Ed?”
The painter’s head turned toward him slowly. There was something wrong with his eyes as well. They looked older and more wearied, haunted. He seemed to gaze passed him. Allan waved his hand in front of Edward’s face.
“She’s wrong.” he whispered. The painting’s eyes watched them intently. It was beyond creepy, completely surreal.
“She’s wrong.” the young painter said again, turning to look at his work. “She can’t be here, she needs to go away. Suddenly he was up, the canvas was in his hand. He sprinted out of the room with her and up the stairs through the third floor, towards the stairs leading to the attic. Allan followed, confused and more than a little scared.
Edward entered the attic and dug his way through the piles of boxes to a far dusty corner. He shoved the painting into it and stood back. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “You’re wrong.” He picked up several old canvases and frames, burying the painting with them. He shoved more boxes around his pile, hiding the corner from view. Then, without so much as a word, he left the attic.
When Allan had followed him out Edward slammed the door behind him and locked it. He sighed and pressed his back against the door, letting his body slide down it.
“Never again.” he murmured. “No more.”
It was 60 years before he entered the attic again, an old man. He never painted a human being again. She was always on his mind, his failed, haunting Goddess.