They had driven by this place a dozen times before. Ever since she had been a baby. They had to drive by this place to get to any other destination. Heleen had never paid it any attention, had never noticed it, had never noticed its beauty. Not until she had turned fifteen. And as Heleen stood before the great cathedral, she let out a gasp at its ethereal-iness. It was so tall that its peaks reached the clouds and the stars itself, as if trying to reach for heaven. But even this sacred building could not grasp heaven, not now, not ever. How had she never noticed this before? How had her assertive younger self never noticed this? But the thought disappeared with the night wind as she began to walk closer and closer towards the opening of the abandoned beauty.
Overgrown vines intertwined with each other, twisting itself around the cathedral and wrapping its arms around the silent structure, as if trying to comfort its lonely heart. The building even looked slightly crooked, closing in on itself. It had probably been forgotten over a century and looked as if it were nearing its end, the walls threatening to crumble away. However, something tugged Heleen into the cathedral and as she stepped into it, the darkness engulfed her before she stepped into a dimly lit interior.
The cathedral’s interior. The walls stood over her, bent as if inspecting her: a new creature, the first person to ever enter this place in such a long time. Heleen could’ve sworn that the walls went back to its original state, their backs high as they stared off into the sky, as if they sensed the goodness and purity in her heart, as if sensing that she meant the sacred sight no harm and that sheer curiosity had brought her here. Heleen shook her head, causing strands of her silken black hair to fall into her eyes. She brushed her hair away and continued her journey down the aisle.
The moon shone through the narrow stained glass windows, but the moon’s pale, eerie light was blocked out and instead it casted a colourful beam that danced all over the interior, causing a shudder to run down her spine at its captivating beauty. Candles of all different sizes sat atop the window sills, some flames dancing and other flames spluttering as the candles grew smaller and smaller until only a puddle of wax was left in their wake, dripping off the side of the window sill. But if there are candles that are lit, Heleen thought to herself, her eyebrows knitting together as she scanned the rest of the empty cathedral, then that must mean someone had already been in here. Or was still here, Heleen thought to her dismay. So she wasn’t the first person to discover this enchanted place in over a century. And here I was thinking I could have this beautiful place to myself, Heleen thought, frowning before reaching the altar. Where a cross usually resided lay a bunch of white tulips, fresh and pure. Its smell was light and floral, wrapping itself around Heleen. Even her white dress fluttered in response to the sweet smell- Heleen quickly spun on her heels as she sensed the presence of someone behind her. And indeed far behind her stood a young boy, perhaps a few years older than her, a violin poised in his hands.
He almost looked like one of the grey structures of the holy spirits; he was clad in a formal white suit from head to toe, his shoes too were snowy-white that were shining in the moonlight. And with a start, Heleen realised that he was the only one that was bathed in the moonlight, as if it was attracted towards this mysterious boy. The only thing that gave away that he was a boy and not a statue was his hair- a stark contrast of black against white, like a crow that sat on a plane of white snow. As if feeling the weight of her stare, the boy looked up towards Heleen, drawing a slight gasp from the girl, and he gave her a soft, sad smile before playing the bewitching instrument.
The solemn sound wafted through the air like a rippling wave, dancing by the candles causing even the fire to go still as if they were in awe at its beautiful melody, captivated at how such a small instrument could make such great sounds, enough to cause a person’s heart to stutter and loose themselves completely into the sound. The solemn sound reached the girl and the power in each note hit something deep within her, causing something to flicker within her and soon she was dancing. At first it felt stiff, as if strings were attached to her arms and legs, pulling her in which direction it wanted her to go but eventually she fell into rhythm and her moves turned graceful, her limbs moving with ease. Her feet were almost silent on the carpeted floor as she moved in and out of the pews, like silk being woven into a material by a skilled sewer. Lost in her trance, the ghost-like girl hadn’t noticed the silent tears that glimmered in the moon as they slipped down her cheeks. The girl hadn’t also noticed that the more she danced, the closer she moved towards the lonely boy, whose arms were wide open, inviting, as his violin now hovered in the air, still being played by invisible hands. As if also noticing, Heleen broke out of her trance and now stood a few feet away from the boy, gazing at him, curiosity and wariness a war in her eyes, in her mind and heart. “W-who are you?”, the girl asked, the first words she had uttered that night. Even her own voice seemed foreign to her ears. The boy’s arms fell to his side as he offered Heleen another smile before answering, his voice rich and princely, “who am I? I… I’m not sure who I am to be quite frank with you,” the boy cocked his head to one side, as if inspecting her before inquiring, “who are you?”
Heleen folded her arms across her chest, ignoring his question to her, “that doesn’t make sense, how can you not know who you are?” The boy shrugged his shoulder as if in response to her before turning his back on her and slicing his hands through the air- Heleen gasped as embers of fire suddenly appeared in his hands as he opened… a portal. A portal that opened up to a world that Heleen had imagined and dreamed of many times before. A place where the grass and trees shone an emerald green, a place in which rivers the colour of diamonds flowed swiftly over grey rocks, a place where birds chirped merrily in every direction as they flew in groups in the celestial sky, the blinding sun obscured by the cotton-looking clouds, specks of colourful flowers spread evenly over the grass. Even the smell of wet grass had drifted out the portal and tickled the girl’s nose, a phantom’s touch of a dream. The mysterious boy turned back to the awe-struck girl and offered his hand to her, “It’s true, I don’t know who I am… but I’d like to show you where I’m from,” a blush began to form on his cheeks, “that is, of course, if you want to know where I’m from”-
“Yes,” Heleen breathed, “yes, I-I’d like to know where you’re from.”
The boy smiled down at her, gratefulness and something like shock written on his face at her sudden outburst. He extended his hand further towards her, “then let’s go, shall we?”
The girl took his hand, which was soft like the smile on his face, and together they both stepped into the mouth of the portal…