Indigo: Chapter 1
Indigo is a tale of mistakes and miscues. It comes in a rush in a few settings, as if someone is anxious to get their story out. I try to put into it the heart and era that it comes with, written in the first person. I may not expound background or setting, for you may not be ready for the truth. But perhaps you are ready for the lesson.
The first time I was accused of nightcrawling, it had not been true. I was up foolishly late—sketching by candlelight. I was not yet twenty years of age, an artist, renowned by few but my dreams were none less valuable to me. I had made a mark on a freshly beckoning paper, one of a lifetime of many that I was not completely satisfied with. The blackened and scrubbed rubber that sat beside my pencil would not do, so I tiptoed downstairs to find a clean one.
As my bare feet touched the cold, marble ground floor, a shadow slunk across the room on the opposite side and paused beside the fountain. Someone was waiting beside the fountain. I was not thirsty so I walked past and retrieved what I was looking for from a cabinet where those things were kept, then returned upstairs. I finished my canvas, scribbled a perpetually unsatisfied signature at the bottom, and slept.
The next morning rumours were ablaze. It is said that rumours are jeweled lies from the lips of Medusa, and these were no exception. I had not been waiting up for anyone. I had crossed the room as a passageway, on my way to—it was none of their business anyway.
Some had seen me pause and reach to the shadow in the corner. Some had seen us links hands or lips and melt into shadows deeper than ourselves. Some had heard noises. Could anyone have missed her weighted smile and covetous eyes at supper in the communal hall?
Could I have?
I had not. The thought had crossed my mind at supper but I dismissed it prematurely as the kind of intent-less seduction that you take with a pinch of salt. I had not connected it later with the fountain and the darkness.
I denied it vigorously, and laughed with them at her. I ignored her deepened smoldering and held to my position, a knight-errant for the truth. The wanderer in search of light—for was not the truth to be told of more importance than a passing smile? She was not the most beautiful flower in the garden, which she already sensed, only now more profoundly as I engraved it into the minds of all around. I meant no harm, it was simply a means to clear my name, for did not a knight’s standard have to be raised high?
I could not help but think though—had she been ready to give me the world, and was I now tossing it back into her face? Had it been me—the object of the shadow’s affection? Would not I have been proud to have been what she waited for? Whether it was I or not, I will never know for sure. But I do know that if a figment had stopped and danced in the dark that night with her, it was likely a sprite of dark and fanciful colours, for I had slept well. Her tear-stained face, turned quickly away when she next saw me, was evidence enough to me of that, but I read nothing else into it.
She withered after that. They said she stepped into the street one day and a carriage took her to a hospital bed. She would recover, but the road would be long. When they had found her, her face had been washed with tears and pale. —Stained with the pain of her last moments, they said, but I knew better. Yes, last moments, but not the very final ones.
The first time I was accused of nightcrawling, it had not been true. But, oh! what a missed opportunity.
I had been young and intrepid, speciously single-minded. Was that not inevitable in the beginning half of every life? How could we escape it? How could we loathe it? Still, I did begin to loathe the artist which had spurred me on past her that night, and the arrogance on my lips in the morning. I began to determine a future of colourful seizure of the golden trophy of opportunity—moments lived to the full and emptied cups with moist lips. The proud artist within me faded as the gambler rose.
The next time the rumours burned, they would be true.
I would ensure it.
The sky became bluer and the roses a deeper shade of crimson. I played with passion in the morning and intensity in the afternoon. I guarded my lips from nothing but issuing malice, and I learned to care.
That was when I met—
We will call her Indigo.
Labels: Short Story