Unsure About the World
CHAPTER
1
But I, Especially, Don’t Know.
Solely placed against the left wall through the narrow endless hallway was an antique pedestal. As I brushed past it, there was a nagging urge to pass my fingers around its Roman curvature which lacked no detail nor a unique vintage feel whatsoever. Heavy grey dust that has been scattered onto where I touched the pedestal now stuck to my delicate fingers, but I had no regrets. An odd tang of familiarity struck, as if I had been here once before, touching the very same pedestal and walking on the very same tiles which had the comforting orange hue of the early sunset in summer, and it filled my heart with a strange pleasure I had not experienced before.
I wouldn’t consider the thought of being here ridiculous or strange. Instead, it seemed quite normal for me to be in this large manor alone. I quickly learned my way around the labyrinth that made up most of the house, and I had already adapted to the foul smell of sweat and blood in the dark basement. I didn’t know whom exactly this residence belonged to beforehand, but now I was one of its rightful owners, and I was to look after it responsibly with the help of my friends and family. Surely my ancestors have lived here once, because my mother says that men and women with our same bloodline were the only people who could open up the gates that lead to the front doors.
Claiming a room and bed for myself, I glanced to the area beside the wide full-length mirror as I sat comfortably to see a painting portraying a woman in a velvet robe cradling her sleeping child in her arms. It was noticeably old, for the material used for the oil painting was ripped from all sides but taped back together the worst possible. It was framed with a scratched dark wooden border with deep engravings of what seemed to be Latin letters and numerals, perhaps the name of the mother and the infant in addition to the date when the painting took place.
Tempted to take a closer look, I scrambled out of the warm sheets and set my face just inches away from the image, observing every detail of the mother and child as I knelt on my knees. I had sworn I have seen this painting before somewhere...
Hypothetically, if I hadn’t seen that painting in this life, perhaps in a previous life I had a deep connection to it, because the eerie tingly sensation in my brain that I felt when inside that room made me wonder crazy things.
“Nicolas? I’m back.”
I shuddered at the voice that called me but didn’t look up. Nevertheless, I knew whom I was speaking to anyway.
“What do you want?” I scowled, slightly disgusted by the recklessness and lack of respect. “Does anybody knock anymore?”
“Look at me,” Rose said. Her dreadful facial expression was as dull and pale as a stone — hard enough to break a thick layer of glass into millions of smithereens — and her weary eyes heavy enough to knock the moon down onto the Earth. “Do I look okay?”
“Just fine,” I chuckled. “What did you do last night, run a marathon? Come on, you know you’re not supposed to drink ten cups of coffee before bed.”
“I didn’t”, Rose protested, giving me that look. “I just... watched a movie.”
“If watching a movie does that to you, I don’t want to know the consequences of taking in too much caffeine.” I straightened my back, sat on the edge of the bed and glanced at the artwork in front of me. “Hey, do you recognize this?”
Rose approached the bed and sat beside me to take a look. She stuttered a bit, squinted her eyes and pursed her lips. “That looks kinda like Mum.”
“The white version of her, anyway,” I added silently, realizing that it was, indeed, the exact same beloved face of Rose’s mother.
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