Fiction Mystery

The mountain air was crisp and still, and Autumn had painted a most colorful picture frame around the cabin while they slept.

Mattie Duval walked Ginny Clarkson a friend from grade school to her Auntie Sookie’s car. The musky sweet fragrance of fallen leaves hung in the air around them.

Soon the sun peeked through the clearing, illuminating the golden leaves in a sizable grove of Ginkgo trees nearby. The Ginkgo’s leaves fell silently like a steady rain shower in the morning mist. 

Unlike other tree species, the native of China drops all of its leaves at one time.

Something tugged at Mattie's consciousness from the ritual the night before. Were there some similarities to her recurring nocturnal visitations?

Sookie reassured Mattie that she would look after Ginny but she reminded her niece,

“Dear girl, you must be patient, recovery will take time.”

Brakes screeched as the car made a sharp right-hand turn just before the ‘Welcome to the Shire Village of Manchester Vermont' sign. It came to a stop parking in the driveway of Simon’s farm. 

Since she’d decided to purchase the oil painting of the Crescent Moon for her bedroom, there was a bare spot in her curio shop.

 So, this was a spur-of-the-moment decision to stop and see if he had something else she might like to take on commission.

Simon St. John’s studio and workshop were in the ideal of a New England Barn. It was red and stood a practical distance from his newly renovated farmhouse.

The successful autrapener checked herself in the rearview mirror and shook her head to see shiny hair bounce and glisten in the light.

Mattie had always feared it was her heavy dark eyebrows that people noticed first, even though she had them threaded into a flawless shape. 

Before getting out of the car she licked a fingertip and smoothed it over the thick brows.

When Mattie was satisfied that she had every hair in place, she strolled toward the barn. 

The soft, moody notes of a saxophone drifted over her. At first, she thought it was coming from the radio or streaming. A few steps further she realized it was a live saxophone solo.

The sliding barn door was open and she entered to see Simon at his workbench playing the instrument.

“Hello, Simon,” Mattie said, “I didn’t realize you were a musician too.” 

She tried to keep her voice steady, but her thoughts were running in circles like a hamster on a wheel.

The conjuration from the night before and the bluesy saxophone moaning from out of view were palpable in her memory and adrenaline began to course through her veins.

Simon gazed up at her with those eyes of his and smiled,

“Good morning Mattie; yes, music helps my creative juices to flow. 

It was his eyes that had captured her attention from the start. In her opinion, eyes determine a lot about a person.

But Simon’s left Mattie perplexed; the right eye was a light aqua green, and the left was the same aqua green, with nearly half of the same iris being a soft brown. 

Max and Boe, his Irish Setters, ran to her, swishing their tails and sniffing her shoes. Simon coaxed them away, patting his thigh, 

“Come on, guys, give Mattie some space,” he said.

She swallowed nervously as Simon stood up and moved uncomfortably close.

In the light, she could see his smooth milky tan though fading it still enhanced the distinctive color of his eyes.

“I should get to work, she managed to say evenly, and I’ll stop by later to see what new creations you have that would do well in the curios shop.” 

That's fine Mattie, I will look forward to seeing you again,” he said softly.

It was a 30 mph zone and the car’s digital speedometer blinked 45 miles an hour then 46.

Mattie’s foot

lightened up on the accelerator to avoid getting a ticket in her manic rush to get to her florist store with a curio shop that customers enjoyed browsing through.

Morning Glories on Vine was named for her favorite flower and the street it was on—Vine.

Her thoughts were still going in circles from one thing and then another. She’d been away from her business too much lately.

The florist store/curio shop was busier than expected for a weekday

Even so, Mattie and her Auntie Sookie felt uneasy because Ginny wasn't answering her cell phone.

Around closing time, Ginny's Clarkson's mother called, 

“I haven’t seen my daughter since Sookie dropped her off

this morning,”

Mrs. Clarkson told Mattie, her voice quivering.

According to Ginny's mother, her car was still in the driveway, and her phone went straight to voicemail.

“I know my girl is a grown woman, and she has her career and her own life, and I don’t want to interfere. But I have a feeling that something is wrong,”

She said.

Mattie thought the poor woman didn't know the half of it and never would. Before she said,


she promised Ginny's mom that she would find out what was going on.

After she changed into a pair of flattering jeans and a sweater that accentuated her ample curves, Mattie paused briefly to evaluate her reflection in a full-length mirror. In her judgment, the eyes that stared back were too far apart, but she liked their quirky color.

All that aside, she admonished her pretty reflection,

“Mattie Evangeline Duval, admit there is more you want from the artist than his head on a platter.”

With a firm resolve to have her questions answered, she drove to Simon's farm.

The light was on his studio and she watched from the door as he worked at his easel. His brush curved in broad strokes as an image began to emerge on the canvas. 

Simon used several techniques that added texture to his vivid oil paintings. Additionally, he used unconventional objects, some of which were vintage jewelry pieces and others organic elements found in nature. 

They were his unique stamp on the paintings and they melded a meaningful touch mixed with the oils to symbolize an intimate part of someone’s story.

Before she was aware of it, Mattie’s gaze had traveled down the outline of Simon's butt in the slim-fit grey cargo pants; the manifestation’s nakedness loomed in her memory.

And she mentally weighed the prose and cons of outright accusing him of being the thing or taking a more seductive approach.

The thought of seducing Simon

caused her to blush and although it would be fun she didn't have the time.

After all, Mattie had promised Mrs. Clarkson she would find out where Ginny was.

Max and Boe wagged their tails excitedly, ready to spring from their beds if she offered the slightest encouragement.

Simon looked at the dogs and turned around to see her watching him.

"Oh, Mattie, I didn't hear you come in,"

he said as a smile spread across his face. 

It was obvious to her that Simon was doing his best gentlemanly impersonation—trying not to ogle at how nicely she filled out her jeans and a sweater.

"Would you like a hay bail to sit on,"

Simon asked motioning to the one closest to him.

There were several others available for customers, and they went well with the warm rustic atmosphere of his workplace.

 “Ahem… she cleared her throat, no thanks,”

she answered. 

The artist with the nice ass in the slim-fit trousers suggested she look over a few new art projects he was working on that she might like for the curios shop.

Again his visitor, Mattie, told him flatly,

“No thanks, I'm trying to find a missing friend of mine, Ginny Clarkson. Did she happen to come by here today to look over some of your art?”

Mattie thought her query sounded a little accusatory, so she quickly flashed him an awkward smile to cover her tone.

Simon shook his head slowly and answered,

"No, I've been at the gallery all day."

The St. John Gallery was a few storefronts up from Mattie’s business.

She recalled the first time she met Simon, he’d stopped by Morning Glories on Vine to invite her to his gallery opening.

September 18, 2023 16:59

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Rose Lind
00:57 Sep 26, 2023

I like dark heavy eyes causing suspicion. Also I like how you catch the sexualising of young artists musician, quite natural in our culture, the stir of the creator which can unguarded turn to obsession, jealousy, passion etc. Tell me the colour pallet of ur artist character?


Judith Jerdé
13:54 Sep 26, 2023

Thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to read my story.


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Mary Bendickson
01:50 Sep 24, 2023

So where is Ginny? Thanks for liking my Walking to California


Judith Jerdé
15:30 Sep 24, 2023

thanks so much for liking my story. This is the excerpt from a much longer story.


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