Saturday, February 29, 2020
Welcome back to the #steampunk riverboat, my chuckaboos!
Sometimes a “random reader thing” comes from a comment that I just can’t resist. That’s what happened when John W. Howell mentioned conundrum.
The Delta Pearl
Chapter 26 — Mesmerize
Sunlight flashed into my eyes. An odd clicking caused me to look up into the sky. The fluttering sound of a bird came to my ears. I shielded my eyes with my hand. Then I spotted something brass colored as it streaked across the blue sky above the Delta Pearl.
I was happy to see the Captain’s clockwork owl. My joy quickly turned to concern. The brass owl’s flight was erratic. Onyx appeared to be headed for the pilot house. I rushed up the stairs to the highest part of the riverboat.
I was not surprised to find Captain Cecil Perlog with his head of unruly platinum hair bent over the clockwork creature. What I had not expected was to see Dr. Victor T. Elam there as well. Victor inspected the owl’s wing in minute detail. Although, I shouldn’t have been surprised. He was brilliant inventor and good with any sort of mechanism.
“Don’t worry your head about Onyx, Emmie. He’s going to be just fine,” the Captain assured me.
“Emmie?” Victor asked, turning to me.
He raised his eyebrows in a way that was a sure threat of teasing about my despised nickname. The only people who could get away with calling me Emmie were the Captain and the Cook.
“I’ll battyfang you within an inch of your life if you ever even think of using that name,” I hissed at Victor.
I couldn’t persuade the Captain to tell me where Onyx had been. Although it was apparent that he would not tell Victor either, so I excused myself, saying I had to go back to my duties. However, that was not my intention.
The combination of sight and sound when I spotted Onyx flying back to the riverboat triggered an old memory. When I was a child on the riverbank, I had caught a glimpse of the clockwork owl. It was just before I saw the Delta Pearl for the first time.
Something about that day was buried, hidden from my memory. Jaspe had told me that there were holes in what I could remember from my childhood, particularly the ones that were near that time. He said that if I had kept myself from remembering things, that it was best to leave it alone.
“Why torture yourself, cher?” he had asked in that soft quasi French accent. “You are safe here with the Delta Pearl, and surrounded by those who care about you, n’est-ce pas? This conundrum is best left alone. C’est tout.”
Abruptly I wanted to check something in that beautiful old portrait. My stomach twisted around the idea that something in that painting related to that first day. Yet, I believed the Dealer was right. If I had misplaced the memory of something from that terrible time, it was likely best if I let it stay lost. The hairs on my arms stood up.
I wasn’t sure what I thought I would find, but I had to check that portrait.
Perhaps the portrait mesmerized me. I don’t know how long I stood there gazing at the old painting of the beautiful woman. Of course, the model was unaccountably familiar to me, but everything else about the painting fascinated me as well. I couldn’t imagine how the artist painted the woman’s hair to make it shine with such luster.
Also, I was amazed by the generous number of interesting things in the background. Of course, they were done in tiny brush strokes, which seemed like an impossible task to one as lacking in artistic talent as myself.
To the model’s right was a grouping of buildings and a port. To her left was a depiction of a grassy outcropping that stood high above the river below. I doubt the details would be noticed without intense scrutiny of the portrait, but it was the presence of those minute additions that caused the painting to enthrall me.
Looking at the outcropping brought memories of long ago. It was so much like a place by the river at my childhood home. Unfortunately, all those memories were bad. Once again, goosebumps rose on my arms. I turned my attention back to the cameo that was nearly a duplicate of my own.
As I stared at the tiny landscape, I saw that what I had taken for a tree on the outcropping was a human figure. The tiny painted person moved to the edge and jumped off the cliff!
I gasped. It was impossible for something in a painting to move!
I was vaguely aware of hearing someone behind me, but I was so engrossed that I did not turn.
End Chapter 26
Transfixed by the movement inside a painting, goosebumps, hearing someone behind you… Émeraude, I think I’d turn around! Thanks for visiting. I hope you’ll leave a comment to say hello, before you leave, my chuckaboos.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 and 2020 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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