Pygmalion's Curse – Part 2

Ceri slows her car to a sputtering stop, frowning at the snow buried truck of her tenant. “What the hell,” she mutters, climbing across her front seat to escape out the only operating door. The last snowfall had been more than a week passed, and one of the neighbors had finally called about the seemingly abandoned truck.

“Kaelin.” The name is growled as expletive and explanation all at once, and she digs her keys out of her pocket. The door, ancient and rusty, screams its protest as she unlocks it and yanks it open, stepping through and shivering belatedly at the wind tearing at her jacket. She blinks in the dim interior, letting her eyes adjust before making her way through the old building, heading for the east wall, its huge bank of windows, and her reclusive and elusive friend and tenant.

The wide doorway to Kaelin’s studio space is a bright block of sunlight, forcing Ceri to pause again, squinting. Finally a blockade of canvases resolves and she weaves her way through the easels. Brows arch in surprise as she takes in the images spiraling around the space on canvas after canvas.

“What in the world,” she whispers, frozen in place, awe warring with anxiety. The woman of Kaelin’s work could be Ceri’s own double, if she loosed her hair from her ponytail, shed her glasses and, more importantly, her painful shyness.

The sight of Kaelin curled into a ball in the midst of the space jolts her into action, and she races to her side, dropping to her knees to shake her friend. “Kaelin! Kaelin! Look at me Kaelin!” The artist grumbles and curls tighter on herself.

“Yournotrealyournotreal,” Kaelin mumbles, chant-like. Ceri’s eyes widen in worry and fear, her hands flying to her mouth as she struggles with panic. Finally, taking a deep breath, she reaches for the artist again.

“C’mon, Kae…it’s Ceri…you’ve got to get up.” She shakes Kaelin’s shoulder harder and finally the artist looks up at her. Ceri catches her breath at the bloodshot gaze and tugs harder. “Kaelin, help me here, get up. I’ll take you home.”

With a tremendous effort Ceri finally stumbles out into the cold, Kaelin’s arm draped over her shoulder, the artist’s taller form weighing heavily on her slender frame. A blast of bitter wind startles the disoriented woman into awareness briefly and she stumbles hard against the side of the car.

“Ceri?” the artist rasps out in confusion. The redhead jerks at the door, grunting softly when it finally gives way, and wraps her arm around Kaelin’s waist once more.

“Yeah, it’s me, Kae, c’mon, into the car.” She tugs the taller woman closer to the opening, and Kaelin slumps into the seat, groaning softly. Ceri lifts her feet into the vehicle and stomps her way back to the door, shoving it closed and locking it. “Damn, it’s cold,” she rattles out, tugging her jacket tighter around her as she returns to the car. “Oh, this is going to be fun.”

Kaelin is passed out in the seat and Ceri scrubs her hands across her face. Shaking her head in dismay, she crawls into her car, climbing over her friend’s limp form, grateful once again for the car’s bench seats. Reaching back across the car she yanks the door closed, rolling her eyes as Kaelin slumps against it.

“Shoulda just called her girlfriend, Ceri, and saved yourself the heartache,” she murmurs, pumping the gas and cranking the car over.

 

© J.M. Stone

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