New Writing


Samantha Noble

Some days were paint, others charcoal, but most were simple pencil.
She was always calmest by the water. Lead in her hand and breeze in her hair. Her private spot, in amongst the tress, down through the overgrown trail and out into a peaceful clearing by the lake. Technically it was public area but no one ever came down there. The walk was dark and gloomy, a tunnel of encompassing branches that held out the light. Damp, moss-covered rocks set the scent and most turned back, unable to see the beauty that lay just ahead.
It wasn’t easy for her, lugging the easel, along with a backpack full of utensils and snacks, but it was well worth it. She had always been one for solitude and quiet, a hard concept for those around her to grasp. It was easier to stand by the lake than attempt to explain ‘artist syndrome’ – as they called it, usually with an eye roll. It had been a cloudless morning but as the day rolled on so did the fog. Clinging to the trees and dampening the grass, the fog wrapped itself, like the tentacles of a jellyfish binding itself to its prey, over everything in sight. It was those days, the ones which brought shadows and eeriness, that gave her the most inspiration.

He stood back for some time, watching. It fascinated him, the confident and smooth strokes of her wrist. Her dirt smudged clothes were oddly charming and the soft tendrils of fallen hair against the nape of her neck never ceased to stir something inside of him. He took a few steps forward, conscious to make enough noise so not to alarm her. She turned, slowly at first, her mouth opened slightly in surprise, like she had forgotten that the planet wasn’t hers alone.

The clearing was large enough to share but not so large as to create distance between the two parties. At first she was annoyed, worried that he might too make this a regular spot. He took his place on a smoothed out slab of rock, the result of years worth of wind and water erosion, somehow seemingly created for this moment and his exact demands. He pulled his knees up and rested his arms atop them, a position that struck her as strangely familiar. She had never seen the man before, that she was sure, yet the feeling of deja vu lingered.
She rolled her shoulders back and focused her attention on the water. Blocking out the man's presence, she let her imagination wander, searching for the spark which brought life to her drawings. Like an extension of her hand, the pencil began moving freely over the page, following a path she could not yet see.
“What are you drawing?”
His voice, louder than she expected, startled her, causing the tip of her pencil to break against the page, leaving a dark smudge beneath. She bit her bottom lip, denying her thoughts a voice. She turned toward him, noticing for the first time his clothes. He was overdressed for a walk through the bush and he certainly wasn’t wearing sensible shoes. Nothing about the man suggested that he belonged outdoors, not the fancy watch or the slick hair, not even the sound of his voice; still, there he sat in complete comfort, like it was he who was wondering why she was there, intruding on his private spot.
“Honestly, it’s not really anything yet but I’ll keep you posted.”
He nodded as though he had expected her answer.
“It’s been a long day, I’ve got a lot on my mind,” he said. “This place always relaxes me.”
“Well you mustn't get stressed often.”
“And what makes you say that?”
“I’ve never seen you here before and the lake is like my second home.”
He went quiet and she wondered if she had offended him. Brushing the non-existent dust from his pants, the man stood. Selfishly she hoped he was taking his leave. On the contrary, he approached her purposely. He was closer than polite but her instinct to step back was oddly absent. She could really see him now, his fine lines of time and day old stubble. She held his gaze, intrigued by the feeling of unspoken communication. The animosity she held but a moment ago, dissolved in an instant and was replaced by a strong urge to draw him.
“My work is highly stressful.”
“I didn’t mean t-”
“I’m not bothered. How were you to know?”
His tone brimmed with a bitterness she didn’t understand.
“Well?” He prompted.
She shrugged, “well what?”
“Aren’t you curious to know what I do?”
Above, the earlier fog had darkened and the once inviting lake now swelled unpleasantly in the background.
“If you want to talk, I’ll listen.”
He pursed his lips. “I work for the government. It’s my job to disappear at a moment's notice. Sometimes it’s to make others disappear too.”
“Should you be telling me this?” She asked.
“No. But like you said, you’ve never seen me here before. Right?”
“Right. So there’s no need to make me disappear.” She laughed, trying to lighten the mood.
“Am I scaring you?”
“No.” She answered honestly though she couldn’t explain why she had not yet felt the desire to run in the opposite direction.
Boldly, he reached forward and tucked a stray hair behind her ear. A corny move that surprisingly she didn’t mind. Who was this man? And why did she want to know more?
“Have you ever been in love?” He asked.
The question surprised her and she glanced involuntarily to her unfinished drawing. Potential suitors were a common theme.
“No, I haven’t. You?”
“I envy you.”
“Oh come on. Don’t tell me you had one messy breakup and now you’ve given up on love.” She smirked, teasing him.
“It wasn’t messy at all. It was the job. What I do is extremely private. I had a choice, end it, or they would.”
“I’m sorry.”
He shrugged, leaning his body in a little closer. His breath trailing goosebumps across her skin.
“I doubt she even remembers me.” His voice, now low and quiet, drew her closer.
“I find that hard to believe.” She matched his tone, well aware of the signals she was offering him yet still baffled as to why. Never had she experienced a desire quite like this, a man she knew nothing of was somehow exactly what she wanted.
He watched her with a mixture of curiosity and understanding, in such a way that made her wonder if he’d done this before.
The surrounding air had cooled and the soft buzz of the first crickets were all that could be heard. Her drawing had been forgotten, as had the lake. They could have been anywhere in the world but she didn’t care to look away. Time had passed only a matter of seconds but the relief of their touch was enough to convince her that it had been a long time coming.
He gripped her chin in his fingers and coaxed her forward. She didn’t need the encouragement. Pressed against his chest she felt her heart racing against his until she could no longer tell them apart. Her lips parted to meet his and they fit together in a passion of heavy breathing and lust. The kiss was firm and hungry and filled her with a yearning she hadn’t known she’d missed. Hands ran up and down bodies, desperately seeking the thrill of hot skin against fingertips. They stood, clutched to each other, neither wanting to be the first to release.
With as much fire and excitement that transpired between them, there was also an underlying sadness to the embrace and with a sinking but almost expected feeling, she knew that whatever they shared had already come to an end. Stepping back, his eyes confirmed it, it was nothing but a hot kiss with a stranger by the lake.
He glanced around himself, adjusting to the darkened sky. Then reaching inside his pocket, he pulled out a small black object, shaped like pin.
“What’s that?” The hoarseness of her own voice embarrassed her but he didn’t seem to notice.
“Forever curious.” He murmured with a wistful smile. “It’s what I always use to end it.”
She frowned. For the first time a pit of uneasiness settled in her stomach. He held the pin between two fingers and with experienced haste, pricked the inside of her forearm.
“Ow!” She exclaimed, scrambling backward over the rocks.
“I’m sorry Nia.” He sighed.
She sank to the ground, eyes wide with shock.

She bit her lip, annoyed that she had spent so much time at the lake and hadn’t produced even an outline of her drawing. What had she done with her time? Another day spent in the clearing, lost in a world of procrastination, she guessed. Shrugging to herself, Nia packed up her things, resolving to put an uneventful day behind her and start again tomorrow.