Silvia & the Starry Night
Silvia stumbled backwards, rapidly assessing her new surroundings. She gaped at the crooked, pale violet walls of the room and slowly spun around. There was a small table, two wooden chairs, and a simple wooden bed, covered with a maroon bedspread. Two blue-grey doors were situated on opposite sides of the room. A dark green window was centered on the far wall, through which she could see the faint beginnings of a sunrise behind the mountains on the horizon. A faint feeling of familiarity with this room started to stir in her but rapidly dissipated when she looked down and became distracted by her own attire.
She marveled at her braided hair, shocked and amused by the rosy pink color. A fitted tweed waistcoat was buttoned tightly over a white blouse, with the shirtsleeves cuffed just above the elbow. A dark brown leather ammunition belt draped over her chest, while an intricately patterned utility belt with several pouches hung low on her waist. On closer inspection of her bandolier, she found that the loops carried not bullets, but small tubes of paint- all the colors of the rainbow, as well as black and white. Her olive green pants were thick but supple, feeling similar to her fencing knickers, and she sported a pair of buckled brown boots that rose to her knees. On opening each of her pockets and pouches, she discovered a variety of paintbrushes, a small wooden palette, several empty glass vials, and a single, right-handed leather glove.
Dumbfounded, Silvia looked around the room once more, trying to decide how to proceed. There was not much else within the cabin other than a water jug on the table and a few paintings on the walls. Peering through the window once more, she spotted several homes with lights on. Maybe I can find someone to help me, she thought hopefully. One of the doors did not appear to have a doorknob, so she headed towards the other one. After a moment’s hesitation and a deep breath, she exited the small room and headed outside.
A brisk early morning chill greeted her. The bright crescent moon and shining stars lit the street in front of her. Further up the street she saw a church, while a towering cypress tree stood in the distance, creating an ominous backdrop for the town. A sense of unease washed over her. The sun had barely begun rising and its rays were mostly still lost within the deep blues of the night. Looking up, she watched the faint sunbeams mix with the dark sky, creating swirls of color. Swirls of cobalt and ultramarine. She gasped. “No! This isn’t possible! No!” She yelled aloud. Feeling her panic rising, she looked around frantically for some clue, some sign, that she hadn’t actually been transported inside her own painting.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw a shadow move in a nearby alley. Fear met her panic, and froze her muscles right on the spot. The sound of footsteps reached her ears before her eyes could decipher what was coming. Suddenly, a large dog began charging at her. She held her breath and braced for an attack, but the dog instead ran a circle around her, and then excitedly began sniffing her. Gingerly petting the dog’s head, it began nuzzling her and licking her hand. Coming from the direction of the cypress tree, a howling roar rang out and echoed through the village. The dog whimpered at the noise, and then began trotting away from Silvia. After a few steps he turned back and looked at her impatiently with the expression of, “Hey! Follow me!” Thoroughly confused, but without any better plan, she followed her newfound companion up the street.
The dog ran straight into a home with an open front door. The perspective was utterly different as she was now looking at the home from the road, as opposed to painting it from above, but it was unmistakably the same building she had spotted earlier- the one with the smoke rising from the chimney. She yelled, “Hello” as she knocked on the open door but was greeted with only the pleasant crackle of a fireplace. She hastily entered and closed the door behind her as she once again heard the monstrous howling in the distance.
Silvia almost lost her balance as the dog began excitedly jumping at her, like a pet greeting its long lost owner. His black and brown fur was soft, and when he raised his head she noticed a diamond-shaped patch of white fur on his chest. A colorful collar hung from his neck, with the name ‘Argo’ written on his dog tag in familiar appearing, feminine script. “Whoa, whoa, chill out, Argo!” she laughed as she tried to scratch his ears. Argo immediately sat, continuing to wag his tail rapidly. He then lunged and grabbed one of the paintbrushes sticking out of a pouch on her belt, as if it were a stick. “Sorry pup, we can’t play fetch with my paintbrush.” She took the brush and placed it back into the holder. He made to grab it again but she blocked his attempt. Argo snorted and instead began nuzzling her. She thought he wanted to cuddle but she then realized he was actually nosing the paints on her bandolier. “You want me to paint?” she questioned aloud, half to Argo, half to herself. He licked her cheek and looked at her expectantly.
Examining her bandolier, she removed the tubes of black and white paint. “I must be crazy,” she muttered to herself, as she located her palette and began mixing up some grey paint. Silvia loaded her paintbrush as the howling once again rang out. “Well, it would be nice to have a weapon against whatever is out there,” she informed Argo, speaking to him as if he could actually understand her. Looking around for a canvas, she found an inviting sheet of blank paper on a nearby desk.
The first stroke was a simple, thick, straight grey line that was pointed at one end. On the other end she added a darker grey hilt, replete with a cross guard, sweeping side loop, slender grip, and pommel. As a final touch, she painted a fleur-de-lis onto the base of the blade and added her initials onto the pommel. She stared skeptically at the painted weapon, unsure what to do next.
While contemplating her next move, the sword began to shimmer, almost like a hologram. Her hand hesitantly reached for the painted sword. Instead of her fingers smudging into wet paint, they felt cold steel. “Oh no way,” she squealed delightedly. She wrapped her hand around the painted hilt and began lifting it from the paper, the weight of the sword increasing as it materialized in her hand. She admired the weapon for a moment, a cross between a rapier and a broadsword, temporarily forgetting all that was going on.
Now holding the sword, the canvas was once again blank. Silvia set about rolling it up so that she could take it with her. Underneath the canvas she discovered a sealed enveloped, inscribed with her name. She immediately recognized the flowing script from having received many prior letters from that sender. Quickly reexamining Argo’s collar, she realized that the same hand had written his name. The lettering unmistakably belonged to her long-dead Grammy Zita. She settled near Argo in front of the fireplace and carefully opened the envelope.
Silvia read the letter multiple times, straining her mind to comprehend all that her grandmother revealed. If what she wrote were true, defeating the monster in this painting would only be the beginning of a long and arduous journey. As the howling outside continued to roar, she pet Argo’s head and calmed her racing thoughts. Rereading the letter once again, she now focused on the most important part: Grammy Zita was still alive. “Argo, we have to find and rescue Grammy Z,” Silvia declared. Argo barked in agreement. The wheels in her head turned as she formulated a plan. She then stood up and donned the fencing glove that she’d found earlier in her utility bag. Gripping her sword tightly, Silvia threw open the front door and bravely headed out into the starry night.
End of Chapter 2