The Twist

A girl trapped in a painting, being mocked by men. Will she escape or will she always stay imprisoned in the frame?

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1. The Story

 

The way that the men leered disgustingly at me made bile rise in my throat. The mirrors that reflected my image repulsed me, so I stopped myself from looking at them. I felt underdressed, shown off like a pedigree animal-used. I sighed, although I tried to stay still. The drunken men from the other world still stared down at me, laughing and pushing each other out the way so that they could get a good look at me.

“Beauty, ain’t she?” One commented, his eyes bleary.

“Pity she ain’t real,” laughed another. He laughed until a cough started to ricochet through it. I tried hard not to giggle and roll my eyes. That’s what I’d been doing if I wasn’t here-giggling like a proper lady, flirting with boys and hoping one might ask if I would go on a date with him.

“Ah, Gerald, never doubt it. She may be real; she may just be hiding it from us.” A younger, sober voice answered the one who I assumed was the Gerald-the one with the bad lungs. I sighed again. Let them muse, I thought, they’ll never know that I am real. The corset my top-half was in, felt as if it were away to pop open. My cheeks burnt as I imagined the field day those men would have. Of course, they would think it was the drink talking in the morning but it would amuse them no end now.

My eyes flickered up to the dusty mirrors. All around, the same image-me, a young woman, trapped in a sombre prison. A tear escaped my ducts-thank goodness, my head was facing the opposite way from the men; they may even imagine I do not have a face, that the artist only drew my back. Except, no artist created me. No artist had called ‘eureka!’ in the middle of the night and started to frantically paint me. I was a real woman, with soft flesh and dreams and feelings. Emotions started to trickle out of me, leaving me as each day came and went. I felt now as if I was a simple painting-and one day, I would disappear, just my body left behind.

I would treasure that day.

Dearly.

Suddenly, the din from behind me got less audible by the second. The men were walking away, I realised as I sighed with relief. I stretched, stiff after lying in the same position. I swung my legs around so that my legs were hanging off the table I had been perching on for hours now. How could those disgusting men be so crude? So dishonest? So vulgar?  So...I stopped, my mouth frozen into the shape of an ‘o.’

The young man was watching me, his mouth mirroring mine.

“Oh. My. Goodness.”

I expected him to go flying down the museum corridor, catch up with the drink-filled men and cry out his findings.

But, no.

He stayed put.

“Please...” My voice faltered after the first word after being used only for humming for such a long time. I coughed and started again. “Please, do not speak of this to anyone.

Then, I noticed something strange about his eyes. They were no ordinary colour-they were yellow, with flecks of dark golden in them. They were unusual, they were unique, they were...magic.

“Don’t worry...” he peered at the sign next to my painting. I thought about Kathius, the idiot who threw me into this jail, who embedded me and my life into this painting. He saw the name. “Penelope. I can get you out of there. You just have to promise me something.”

“What?” I raised my dainty eyebrows.

“That you’ll marry me. That you’ll be mine forever. Because, I knew that, from the first time I saw this painting, that you were not created. You were born.

My heart thumped unevenly as I pondered. Stuck in this awful place for the rest of my days, or to be married at the young age of 20.

I couldn’t decide which was worse.

I knew it wasn’t unusual to get married at 20, but it felt too young for me. But if I married him, I would be able to escape this god-awful frame. So, I nodded, holding out my hand. I closed my eyes, waiting for my saviour. I didn’t really know what happened after that. Sparkles danced behind my eyelids as the world shimmered around me. My feet felt as if they were jelly, my legs similar. Suddenly, lips were pressed against mine. I gasped for breath before shoving my attacker away. The man looked at me with a confused smile on his face.

“What, Penelope?”

I shrugged, smiling coyly. Suddenly, he got down onto his knee, holding my hand.

“Will you marry me?”

I smiled before snatching my hand away. “No way, sucker.”

I danced down the hall, throwing my hands out while I laughed. Fresh oxygen flew down my lungs as I whirled outside. I couldn’t believe that I was free.

And it was that foolish young idiot who had set me free. 

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