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A confused young girl falls under the spell of an artist and her assistant.
This story takes its inspiration from my work ‘Sketchbook’ in which a shy and inexperienced young boy becomes infatuated with an older artist. I have tweaked the idea a little and the young boy has become a young woman who is trying to come to terms with feeling different and detached from the world at large.
The artist Angelfire in this story is different to the one portrayed in ‘Sketchbook’ and although the town it is set in is trying to pretend it is not my usual setting of Amberdown, it is failing miserably.
As another working week wound along on its seemingly indeterminate and never-ending way, I found myself longing more and more to be free of the crushingly restrictive life that living in a tiny village inflicted upon me. I was coming up to twenty-two, I had just lost my boyfriend and I was feeling very down and very confused.
Everyone knew everyone’s business in the village and whilst that was quite nice when growing up, once I began to feel… well, different to most people, I soon realised that the things I wanted to do were of no business to anyone but me.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the place with all my heart and the wonderful countryside around it even more. The problem was that in a village of about fifty houses with a tiny shop and a traditional old pub, there was very little scope for getting up to the sort of things that were starting to infiltrate my rapidly burgeoning imagination.
I had gone to school in a town a couple of miles away and had been seen as a bit of a weirdo and a loner in my final year as I began to almost detach myself from the real world. I felt alienated from the girls of my own age – I was into heavy music – grunge, classic rock, folk. I wore mainly black clothes and longed to have dark eye-makeup and lipstick – have my hair braided with beads and ribbons; to wear leather and long boots and fishnets.
Having made what I now saw as a foolish decision not to go to University and escape it all, I was working in a legal firm in town. My Mum had been a partner there before moving to another agency and had pulled a few strings for me. Of course it meant that my dream of looking as I wanted to was now just that – a dream. It seemed I was set on course for a grindingly normal life and as every day went by, I felt more trapped, more restricted and desperate to break free.
I had a sketchbook in my bedroom where there were hundreds of versions of myself in Goth gear. In some I was playing a huge five-string bass guitar, my head usually tilted back, my long braids trailing, thigh-length leather boots or wet-look leggings shining under the stage lights. There were other sketches of the tattoos I wanted so badly – a braided rope design around my upper left arm, a unicorn on my right shoulder. Others in more intimate areas and some in places that only my lovers could ever see.
Not that I’d had many lovers so far, and my longest lasting one was a recent thing of the past. Oh well, at least there was one silver lining to my increasingly cloud-covered life.
I usually sat in a Nirvana t-shirt and distressed jeans when I was drawing, my acoustic guitar by my side. I had never so much as touched a bass guitar or worn leather. I was just a freakish, wannabee Goth trapped in the body of an ordinary village girl.
Was it Goth that I wanted to be? Was it Emo or even Alt? I had no real idea. I just wanted to look like the girl I had drawn in my pictures and live my life as I wanted.
I looked at the drawing I had made the previous night and it scared me a little. In fact, it scared me a lot. I have to say I am pretty good, and there was no mistaking who the subject of the picture was. It had started as a sketch of me kneeling naked with my arms outstretched at the sides, my eyes closed, head tilted back. I had no idea what it was meant to represent as I drew it, but I knew subconsciously it must reflect some hidden yearning or longing.
I had sat in my room staring out of the window into the back garden of the next-door house as I sketched. A few weeks before it had been the pride and joy of an elderly couple who were now in a care-home. Their daughter had put the place up for sale and the village was agog with wondering who would be moving in. We’d find out soon enough – the ‘Sold’ sign had gone up that day and my mother was well tuned into the village gossip circle.
I was so zoned-out that I barely realised I had added the extra bits to my sketch. I looked at it in disbelief and swallowed hard. Some of my drawings would be hard to explain to my Mum or my siblings, but this one? Where the fuck had that come from?
I traced a fingernail down the new lines I had added – a criss-cross of leather straps encircling my body from my neck down to my thighs. There was a mask of charcoal make-up across my eyes and my outstretched arms were now clad in long leather gloves.
It was bad enough Beylikdüzü escort that I had drawn those things without thinking, but what really freaked me out was that I had also added another person to the sketch. That person was lying with their face between my legs, a long tongue pointing upwards towards my parted labia. The body was stretching out towards the viewer and she was fingering herself with one hand and tugging on a nipple ring with the other.
I knew I felt different, but was I really that much different?
I looked at it for a long time wondering if it was just a fantasy or if it was really what I wanted. I thought of the first time a boy had entered me – it was over in a flash, but it had felt nice. The subsequent times were better but I had never really come properly. It was only on a wild weekend away to Spain to celebrate my eighteenth birthday with Leonie and Kelly that I’d finally had meaningful, satisfying sex. The three of us had spent most of the weekend on our backs instead of the intended beach-bumming, tapas and sightseeing. Leonie had been in a threesome and said it was amazing, but I didn’t have the courage to try it myself. From the ecstatic reaction I got from Raul, at least I knew I was good orally and in the subsequent months, I often felt myself craving the feel of a velvety, stiff cock entering my willing mouth. I was less enamoured of his oral efforts though, and despite his tongue feeling nice on my labia, his stubble felt abrasive against my thighs and I was in discomfort for quite a while afterwards.
Robin, my off-on boyfriend of some nine months had been ok, but to be honest we were not very good out of bed together, so it was hardly surprising we didn’t set the world on fire between the sheets. We just kind of spluttered along like a fire waiting to go out but were just too apathetic to bring it to a natural conclusion.
There weren’t many people I’d missed since leaving school but Leonie was one. I hoped we may have a few adventures together after Barcelona but she had gone off to Uni and rarely returned she was having so much fun.
However she had been back recently, and it was she who was partly to blame for my latest confusion. We had gone for a night out in the local town – not that there was much nightlife – and despite hating nightclubs, I had gone with her out of a sense of duty to an old friend. When I had seen Robin arm in arm with Penny Lawler, it was quite a relief. Then he saw me watching as they kissed and became all flustered. He signalled across the room for me to join him somewhere for a talk, but I merely shook my head and waved my fingers across my throat in a cutting motion indicating we were done.
Leonie had come back from the bar with our drinks and I told her what I’d just seen. She was always one for the grand gesture and kept looking across thereafter to make him feel uncomfortable. After her third or fourth meaningful gaze in his direction, I saw her face change. “Oh shit, he’s coming over.” I could barely hear her over the sound of the ear-shattering music as she moved in close to me. “Let’s give him something to think about, eh?”
Before I knew what was happening, she put her arms around me and pulled me down onto her, giving me a huge snog. She spun me round and I could see Robin stop dead in his tracks. Despite my shock and initial slight revulsion, I reciprocated the kiss – anything to get back at him was fine by me. We went on for ages and when I looked back, he was gone.
Shortly afterwards, Leonie pulled. I didn’t fancy the guy he was with so I cut and ran. At first, I had laughed about what I had seen as a stunt to get back at Robin but as the days went by, I began to realise that I had liked the feel of her in my arms, the press of her lips, the feel of her breasts rubbing against mine. She had even used her tongue and I had used mine back. I kept replaying it in my mind, over and over. In the end, I could only come to one conclusion.
I had fucking loved it.
I looked at my sketch once more, wondering if it was Leonie who I had drawn beneath me. As far as I was aware, she had no inclinations to make out with girls – it had just been for a laugh. What turned out as a laugh for her was becoming no laughing matter for me as my previously occasional night-surfing habits became more frequent and very different in content.
I closed my sketchbook and put it in my bedside cabinet. For some reason I had taken woodwork at school. Another completely crazy and random act that I seemed to come up with occasionally. But it had its uses and the false bottom to the lower drawer was one of my finer ideas. I tucked my book back in there and pulled out my favourite vibe. I hadn’t had the courage to buy that either – Leonie had bought it and two others for me in a sex-shop in Barcelona because I was too craven to go inside. Some three years later, they were still my now almost nightly companions.
I hated having to be quiet with my nocturnal activities, but Beylikdüzü escort with a fourteen-year-old brother and a nine-year-old sister in adjacent rooms, it was essential. I consoled myself with the thought that in a week’s time, I’d have the place to myself. Six weeks of blissful peace and quiet while they went on the trail of Mickey Mouse and Pooh Bear in Florida followed by time in the Keys, then Bermuda on the way home. Dad had recently taken redundancy and made a pretty packet out of it, hence the big splurge on the holiday of a lifetime for my Mum, Lillie and Marcus before he started a new job. Mickey and Winnie for my kid sis, snorkelling and diving for my bro’ and plenty of sun and wine for my folks, who had been separated for a while and were hoping to rekindle something. All in all it was ideal for all five of us in different ways.
Thinking of my sketch, I brought up a website on my tablet that had helped me through some lonely recent evenings. It took a few minutes, but I found a video of a girl with long dark hair, tattoos and piercings. I put on my headphones and for the next forty minutes I pretended I was her as she cavorted with a pretty little chubby girl with a lovely smile and short blonde hair.
As they turned grinning towards the camera, faces sticky with their juices, I allowed myself to flood onto the folded towel I had made sure was there in case of emergencies. I was biting my lip, desperate not to cry out as they giggled and waved and said bye-bye.
I realised then that I wanted two things more than anything.
Firstly, I wanted out of my little prison cocoon.
And secondly, I wanted that pretty, chubby little blonde girl to be the one lying between my legs.
It was no good trying to deny it anymore. What Leonie had inadvertently started, I now needed to take further. The problem was, I had no inkling as to how I could go about it.
The next week dragged and it was hot and noisy as removal and builder’s vans began to roll up next door at the crack of dawn. As yet, there was no news from the village bush-telegraph as to who our new neighbours would be. Whoever they were, they had a lot of stuff and the place was a hive of activity as decorators and gardeners swarmed about the place like ants.
We found out who it was the day the family were flying out to Florida. Being vegetarian I usually did my own thing for the evening meal, but as they were going away, I decided to eat with them. I was working on my brother Marcus, but Lillie was too young. She always turned her nose up at my concoctions and mimed being sick. Such a lovely little girl.
As we ate, the Fount of All Village Knowledge, otherwise known as Lisa Andrews or ‘Mum’, spilled the beans. “Met the new neighbour today.”
We always had to drag it out of her – she loved to make a tale last. “Neighbour? Singular?”
She nodded around a mouthful of lasagne. She had been kind enough to make me my own little veggie one and it was pretty damned good. “Yup – just the one by the look. Nice lady – what was her name again?”
No way would Mum not have remembered. She was doing it so Lillie could hold court in her inimitable style.
Lillie shook her head. “Mummy, for a village gossip, you are hopeless.” She had an endearing lisp and it came out as ‘gothip’ and ‘hopeleth’. She went on as we laughed, her strident little voice full of self-importance. “She is called Angelina Firestone and she is a famous artist who paints and draws under the… erm… what was it again – something French – I’ve not done that at school yet – oh yeah, a nomdy ploom of ‘Angelfire’.”
I had to hold my hand over my mouth to stop giggling. Lillie could be a right one at times, but she reminded me so much of myself at that age – bossy, feisty and a right little madam. I hoped she’d stay that way and not become introverted and screwed up like me.
Mum tousled her hair. “That’s it – knew I could rely on you darling. We both met her, didn’t we?”
Lillie nodded enthusiastically as she chewed and screwed up her mouth as if trying to remember her lines. “She has opened a new art gallery in town called Angelfire and she is a witch!”
Mum stopped eating and looked daggers at my little sister. “Lillie, that’s not nice. She seemed lovely lady. Just a bit different to what we are used to in the village, that’s all!”
I was back to giggling. “So come on, Lil’s. How is the poor lady a witch?”
“Coz she’s got big black hair…”
“Big black hair?”
“Yeah, like a witch. Bet she’s got a big pointy hat with moons and stars on it in the house and a robe like Severus Snape!”
Even Marcus was laughing now. “So we’re living next door to Professor McGonagle then?”
Lillie shook her head solemnly. She could never say the name right even after reading every Potter book twice by the time she was eight. “No, Minerva McGongcackle is nice. Angelfire is a dark witch. She’s got big black hair like I said; big red lips and tattoos.” She Escort Beylikdüzü pointed to her nose. “And a funny bead in here that looks like snot!”
Now the entire table was in uproar. Sometimes the kid just got to you.
Eventually things calmed down and Mum got back to the tale. “So anyway, she seems very approachable; a big lady and as Lillie says, lots of black hair and very red lips. She does seem to have a thing for ink, that’s certain.” She turned to me. “Maybe get her to have a look at your stuff, Hannah. You never know, she might put it on show.”
I felt myself redden. Yes, Mum, cracking idea – I’ll just put a picture of me straddling a woman’s face whilst wearing a fetish harness in a local gallery, shall I? I managed a weak smile and said something about her probably not having the time for amateurs.
Marcus chimed in in his inimitable style. “Is she a looker?”
I expected Mum to have a go at him but her reply took me aback slightly. “Is she ever? As I said, she’s a big lady, but there’s definitely something about her – dark and mysterious!” She turned to Lillie. “I thought her nose-stud looked lovely!”
Lillie did her nose-wrinkling thing. “Yuck – gross. Why do people want to poke sharp things into themselves and have pictures drawn on them?”
Mum nodded. “She does seem to have rather a lot of pictures drawn on her love, doesn’t she?”
Then the killer from Lillie that had us all flat out for minutes on end. “Yeth, and the amount of skin she has, it must have cost her a bloody fortune.”
Even Mum was laughing too hard to chide her for swearing.
Once we had calmed down, Lillie got up excitedly holding out her empty plate. “Ok, finished my ‘zanya. Can we go see Pooh now?”
Mum laughed. “Soon darling, Daddy’s due at nine.”
Lillie looked at her Pooh watch and put on a sulk. “Hmph – it’s only six-thirty.”
I shook my head. “Then go and pack!”
“Did that two days ago!”
She was a bundle of energy for the next two and a half hours and the sweet kid from dinner turned into the sister from hell in no time. I felt duty bound to sit with them until they left as I’d be having the place to myself for so long.
At last Dad arrived and I took Mum to one side. I was the only one really old enough to appreciate the situation. “Hope it goes well, Mum. Be great to see you back together.”
She hugged me and sighed. “Don’t hold your breath, Hannah. It’s ‘make or break’ and at the moment, the sensible money is on ‘break’. It’s more for Lillie and Marcus than me and your Dad.”
It seemed to take an age to get all the luggage installed. I hugged Lillie. “See you soon, tinker. Say hi to our fave bear for me!”
Before she turned to run down the path to Dad’s car, she whispered in my ear. “Hey, Hannah – watch out for the witch or she’ll turn you into a bat. You’ll be flying round the rooftops squeaking when we come back!”
Out of the mouths of babes and children.
I got turned into something, but it wasn’t by Angelina ‘Angelfire’ Firestone. And it wasn’t a bat either, but I do tend to fly around squeaking a fair bit when I’m with the person that changed me.
Angelina Firestone did eventually change someone though, and the thought of that makes me feel so proud.
I have to admit that I was very intrigued by the sound of our new neighbour. Lillie’s hilarious description of her ticked all the right boxes – black hair, tattoos, piercings. I didn’t mind big – I’m not exactly svelte myself – just naturally big-boned as the more polite would say. The whole family are tall – I touch six feet and am equally proportioned. Marcus was almost my height at just shy of fifteen. Lillie was tall for her age and was dying to go to ‘big school’ so she could start playing netball. I sometimes thought that my height and size were holding me back in the relationship area; maybe some boys found me a bit intimidating. I think that Robin certainly did.
I decided I needed to find out about Angelfire. The first mention I found of her was from the local newspaper website. The article was dated a week before and mentioned that a well-known, award winning artist Angelina Firestone was returning to the area after a few years of working abroad to open a new gallery in town. It was to be called ‘Angelfire’ after what Lillie had so cutely called her nomdy ploom. There was a rather washed out black and white picture of a woman, probably in her thirties, with long dark hair and a pouting mouth. Her eyes were hidden by round, rimless sunglasses. It was only head and shoulders so it was hard to gauge her size, but Lillie had been right – she had a lot of hair and Mum was right too – she seemed attractive in an off-the-wall way. There was a touch of arrogance in her face, an aloofness that made me think she wouldn’t suffer fools gladly. The only comment from her was that she was looking forward to returning to her roots and reconnecting with her spiritual home.
There was also mention of her favourite genres being fantasy and wildlife and that she also specialised in erotica, although these would not be on show – at least initially – at the gallery. Great – build me up and let me down in the space of one sentence!
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