Callie set her easel and stool on the grass, glad of such a beautiful spot. She took out her paints, aligned them in the order she preferred, tied her apron with pockets for her brushes and set the canvas on the easel.
The day was bright and the wind blowing down from the mountains cooled the summer heat. The sky was cloudless and the world around her silent, save for the gusting wind.
Callie filled her brush with paint and smeared the canvas with a beautiful pastel and cyan blue for the sky. She painted the rolling hills in hues of green and the mountains black and purple behind them. The world around her melted away.
Callie omitted the details of the modern world and depicted the landscape before electricity poles blighted it, or the highways and railroads marred the mountains. She imagined this spot before the dreadful parking lot and overlook killed grass and shrub as they paved the way for progress. She loved to paint the long-ago world which came to life on her canvas. The sun set behind the mountains.
“Oh no,” Callie blinked and rubbed her eyes, “it’s getting dark.”
Dusk fell, and the wind turned chilly while she gathered her things. She bent down to put away her paints and as she stood, slinging the easel over her shoulder, she gasped.
“What the…” Callie murmured, bewildered by the absolute darkness. The street lights were unlit, and she had trouble locating the ugly parking lot in the distance.
Callie looked around her in the moonlight and blanched. The modern amenities she’d complained about vanished! No road signs, no trash cans, no paved path back to her car. She clutched her pack and listened to the far-away click-clack. Hooves? Was there a ranch nearby? Callie pressed her memory, but could not remember passing any ranches or stables on the road.
A dark figure appeared in the distance, formless in the silver moonlight. Click-clack, the figure approached. She perceived a horseman wearing a cloak and three-cornered hat. He rode fast and was soon upon her. Callie, too afraid to move and still clutching her belongings, stared at him.
“Hullo,” the man stopped the horse beside her; his face obscured by the tricorne and his voice a deep velvet, “are ye lost, madam?”
Callie nodded, unable to speak and rooted to the spot with feet together and hugging her things like a little girl afraid of the dark. His silver cloak pin glinted in the moonlight.
“Might I inquire as to your dwellings?”
Callie stammered and mumbled, unsure what to respond. She doubted the man knew Lincoln Street in Oakwell Heights. She pointed instead toward the general direction of her house.
The man nodded, and the moon shone on his face. He was dark, with a strong jaw, straight nose and piercing eyes, yet his kind smile softened the shadows on his face. He extended his hand.
“Come,” his eyes twinkled when he grinned, “I shall take ye, ’tis a cold night.”
Callie’s fingers brushed his, and static electricity charged through her. Her heart beat loud in her chest; the promise of an adventure at her fingertips. His warm fingers tightened around hers.
A car honked in the distance and ripped through the silence. The modern world blasted through the moonlight and Callie stood, her arm outstretched, grasping at the chilly wind.
Callie drew in her breath, dropped her pack and put her hands on her lips. Her mind raced, and she shivered, tears springing to her eyes; missed opportunities beat in her heart.
Callie bent to pick up her belongings; a glimmer of silver on the ground caught her eye. The cloak pin. Callie stroked it with her thumb and clenched it against her chest. Head down, she plodded to her car.
Callie wore the cloak pin on a chain around her neck and painted at the same spot every day, hoping to see the rider again. But the spell remained broken.