A Continuing Story

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Chapter Two

That same peculiar feeling swelled inside him as he stared down at the painting that now just showed trees, the same feeling that he felt the first time he saw it. Was she there? Living and breathing?

“Constance?” He found himself calling. “Constance, are you here?”

George managed to unroot his feet from the floor, beginning to walk about in the dark of his home forgetting about the need for light. No matter how many times he called her name she did not appear. It could be that he was going mad, it could even be that the week he so fondly recalled was just a story. A creation of his sister’s wild imagination. No, it was all too real.

They were all scared when they saw her, but perhaps not as frightened as her. Her eyes were wide, shining with fear and a hint of something that screamed ‘lost’. Beatrice was the one who comforted her, galloping up and taking her hand.

“It’s okay,” she told her. “Your name is Constance, isn’t it?”

The woman from the painting gave a nod, “Yes, it is. What’s your name?”

“Beatrice, but you can call me Bea if you like. This is my Auntie Lenora,” Beatrice pointed back to the wonderstruck two behind her. “And my brother, Georgie.”

Constance looked away from the younger girl and greeted the other two with a soft, shy smile.

“Come on, I bet you’re hungry.”


George spent most the night awake, reading from the diary, reminding himself of what had happened. Constance had not appeared and he could not find her, because of this he devised that she might have appeared where she was first found. So he decided to revist the spot where his Great Aunt Lenora’s house once stood just in case. He was a sombre and sentimental sort, so even if she wasn’t there he quite enjoyed reliving the past.

The journey was the same as it had been thirteen years ago but not quite as she had described in the diary. There was a lack of a ‘chug’ and more of a monotonous ‘hum’, and it was most definitely not summer. The image of the countryside that flashed by his window was depressing, skies grey and cloudy, fields looked patchy and there were a few large puddles sitting in them. It was not a postcard worthy landscape, that was for sure.

His Great Aunt Lenora was the sister of his grandmother who had passed when he was a child but they had never met until that week. She kept to herself in her peculiar house on such beautiful grounds - with such lush acres of land George and Beatrice had thought her to be quite rich, but the following year when she unexpectedly died they were proved wrong. Or at least, they never got a share.

She was a funny and kind woman, always dressed in black, her hair dyed a deep red. George never really thought about how enigmatic she really was, after a girl in a painting coming to life he never thought to ask about her. Sadly there was no way for him to find out anything, and there were no photos, no reminders of the life she once lead. The belongings willed to the siblings were odd objects - among other things, a mirror, an armchair, the painting - and her home was demolished. That part was written in her will too.

Where the house once stood was the sloping field that at one point was full of bright blooming flowers. If the grass was not yellowing and damp, if the clouds were not so miserable, if the house and the garden were still intact it would have looked beautiful - it would have been the same. He pushed the wooden gate open and slipped inside, feet following the invisible pathway to where the door would have been. He raised a hand into the cool of the air and made a pushing motion as if when he did his hand would feel the wall of the building that was not there; his hand glided through the air instead.

“We’ll race!” Beatrice exclaimed as she jumped about on the soft green grass.

Lenora sat on the sideline, a cup of tea cooling on the white table beside her. Constance and George looked a little hesitant, there was only so much running one could do and they had been chasing Beatrice around the garden for some time.

“Why don’t we go down to the stream?” Constance suggested. “Have you been down to the stream yet?”

“No,” Beatrice shook her head. “Where is it?”

Constance lifted a delicate hand and pointed to the cluster of trees that spread out along the field, sloping down and growing into thick woodland.

“Just through there. I used to play there, I think.”

That was one of the interesting things about Constance, she had a few memories that could prove she was once a real person and not just a figure in a painting. All figures in paintings were real people in some way or another, but not all of them came to life.

They left with Lenora’s agreeal and followed Constance down through the tall spindly trees down toward the ones with thicker trunks and old mossy bark. Leaves scattered the soft ground about them and smaller twigs snapped underfoot. It was not long until they came to a small clearing, the sun shining through the branches left dappled patterns across the ground. In the silence the air had a slight hiss.

“It’s pretty here, is that the stream?” Beatrice asked, already she had found a stick to march about with.

With the stick she pointed through a couple of the trees to where the gentle trickle of water could be heard. A small stream glided unnoticed through the wood like a silvery trail. Beatrice hopped through the trees and stuck the stick into the clear water.

It was a lot muddier, the clearing, but it stood timeless like no one had been there since they left it. Perhaps no one had? It was not like anyone else really knew it was there. George felt slight disappointment as he was the only one stood there - had he really believed Constance would have appeared and gone to the spot?

His ears tinged pink as he remembered what they had done there. Beatrice hadn’t known about that.

He lingered a few moments more before heading back up. There was nothing to see, no one there. The memories came flooding back and he enjoyed remembering them - being in that place again. It was safe to say that perhaps it was real and he was not quite so mad.

At the gate stood a figure, bundled up in a waterproof jacket, a woolen hat warming his head. He was old, older than George last remembered him being. There was someone.

“Who’re you?” He started as George came closer.

George stopped when he was near enough, he had no hood or hat to obscure his face but it was very clear that he looked different from his nineteen year old self. His dark blond hair was still in the same style but no longer did he have the smooth youthful skin of a young adult, he was quite matured and sported scruff to prove it. The man was no fool, he blinked.

“Surely not? Mr George Jacobi?”

“Jeremy.” George smiled at the man.

Jeremy Smith was the very good friend of Lenora James, if you could believe it. The two constantly bickered, but he was always at her beck and call. He was much the same, with his grumpy frowning face and big nose. His hair, although George could not see for the hat, had now completely gone.

His footsteps were heavy as he plundered through the house, carrying the crate of vegetables that the siblings had been sat next to in the car when he picked them up from the station. Lenora smiled at the two, finally taking a seat opposite them. They were both very apprehensive.

“It’s so nice to have company,” she commented.

“What about me, Norie? I’m here as often as you like, I’m like your bloody servant!” Jeremy came through, his manner was in a joking way.

“You are my bloody servant.”

“Only when you start paying me.”

Lenora laughed at that, “Get away with you, Smith.”

“You’ll be all right?”

“Of course, now of you trot.”

Jeremy sighed before leaving them alone with their Great Aunt.

"It's a sorry sight isn't it?" Jeremy leant against the gate after letting George back through.

"It is."

"I heard about...you know." There was a little sadness to his voice. "I would have made the journey but I was in the hospital. Arthritis. I blame bloody Lenora, all she made me do..."

Jeremy let out a small, sad chuckle. A smile twitched at George's lips.

"You all right, son?"

George nodded, "All right as I can be."

"Happy?"

He wanted to use the same answer again.

"I should have married her, you know. I doubt I'd've been much happier, but I should have married her."

George assumed he meant Lenora. While there had been no clear indicators of romance between the two, it was very obvious that they cared deeply for one another. It was a funny thought and quite a sad one too.

"Jeremy, can I ask you something?"

"Ask away."

"You remember the girl, don't you? The one with the dark hair?"

"Yes. The magic one that always had her eye on you," Jeremy smirked a little.

"Well I wouldn't say she was magic..." George shook his head. "But yes, her. I think...I think she might be back. Do you know anything about her or the house or even if you've seen her."

Jeremy raised a brow curiously at the young man, "I haven't seen her, no. I was only told by Lenora that she came from the portrait, wasn't sure I believed that but she and her late husband were always into that hocus pocus stuff."

George didn't know about that. Not quite fully.

"Oh. Well, thank you..."

"I'm sorry I can't help you, boy. I can tell you things about your Lenora but nothing on that girl."

"Well..." George gave a small tilt of his head. That had some interest to him.

Once again as George came home it was dark, but the rain decided not to pour that day. In his hand was a file that Jeremy had filled with what he could spare about Lenora. The two had returned to his home and had some tea as they poured over the few photographs and letters he had recieved from his dear departed friend. Jeremy had told George what he had known about Lenora before her husband died, how she was interested in the fantastical and supernatural and spent most of her life outcast from her family as she devoted her life to it. Yet it gave him no hope about who Constance was or where she had appeared.

Though the latter did not need answering anymore.

As he stumbled through into the kitchen he barely noticed the figure shadowed in the corner, it was only when he turned and she walked into the light. She was the same as ever.

She was clearly much younger than he was, he had never known her age - was she nineteen all those years ago or a little older? His perception of age was never spot on. Her dress was a duck egg blue and still pretty, although old-fashioned, and her dark hair fell down her back, neatly held together by ribbon. She seemed startled by his presence, eyes filled with that same look that she had when first discovered.

"Who are you?" She asked, guarded.

"I..." George breathed.

She was there. She was real and she was there.

"Constance, don't you recognise me?"

It had only taken a few moments for Jeremy and he thought she might do the same. She blinked as he called her by name, looking him over. Behind the age he was still very much the same.

"Georgie?" She gasped.

He gave a small smile, no one had called him 'Georgie' in a while.

"Yes, it's me," he nodded.

She closed her gaping mouth and composed herself, the redness on her cheeks growing slightly redder. He was much more handsome now.

"Where...where am I?"

"My home. It's been years...quite obviously. Lenora is no longer with us, nor is her home. You were given to Beatrice."

A smile worked its way onto her face.

"But, uh, but the thing is, Constance..." George cast his eyes down.

"What? What is it?"

"The thing is, Beatrice passed away. Quite recently."

Constance's face fell. A sad glimmer in her eyes appeared, the last she had known of Beatrice was the sweet little girl who took her hand and wanted to know everything. The girl who was so curious and kind.

"Oh."

She looked up to George, who had not removed his eyes from the floor.

"Oh, Georgie, I'm so sorry," she took a few steps closer.

He looked up then, "I'm fine, really."

She nodded, though she wished to comfort him she knew that if he wished for a moments distance she should oblige him such.

"But why are you here? I do not understand it."

"Nor I," she told him truthfully. "I know when I left you it was because I had to. I am as confused as you are."

George looked at her a moment. He thought it might have been strange speaking to her again, but he felt nothing but comfort and ease. It was the same the first time around. They had gotten to know each other very well, after all.

"Let's dwell on that tomorrow. I've had a long day...I bet you're hungry."

Constance smiled at George and for once, since the news of his sister, he let himself smile properly.
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