A distant voice could be heard as it was carried across the grand open space of the museum, your ears easily identifying the mesmerized voice of a child. Your body lazily leaned against the smooth wooden railing, your eyes trailing down to locate a small boy smiling widely up at the fighter plane that hung at the center of the open space, demanding attention from anyone who decided to walk into the main building of the quiet, historical building.
You easily identified the daunting craft to come from the Second World War, the markings precisely painted on the metal making it all too obvious to you. Even though the sight long ago ceased to insight the sort of amazement in you that could only be found in the child that lay a few feet below you on the first floor, you couldn’t help but let a soft smile make its way onto your face as you noticed how the light bounced off of the metal plane in all the right places. The glass dome overhead bathed the historical artifact in an almost ethereal light, a symbolic reminder as to what many soldiers referred the air force reinforcements as.
‘Angels on our shoulders…’ you silently thought, your smile fading as you began to get lost in old memories. You remembered the first few times coming here as a kid, and how you could never explore enough of all the whimsical artifacts the museum had to offer. Out of all the wonderful things you saw and were introduced to, however, nothing could compare to the memory you had of the first time you met your best friend. You weren’t surprised to find that out of all the places for you two to meet it would be a museum, but here you were, celebrating the anniversary of when you two met.
Before you were given the chance to reminisce any longer, you recognized a pair of muffled footsteps making their way from behind you, immediately bringing you back to reality as you blinked your eyes. You already had a hunch as to who was coming towards you, so you only allowed a wide grin to grow across your face as your best friend ceremoniously made her presence beside you, draping herself over the railing as she turned her head to smile mischievously up at you.
You finally gave her the attention she was seeking as you turned your head towards her, only to see her upper body completely over the edge of the railing, her hands reaching down, stretching to reach as far down as they could go. You immediately frowned at your friend’s odd position, a twinge of concern in your features over the fact that your friend might fall.
“Jane, what the heck are you doing?” you immediately questioned, leaning up from your position and carefully watching over your friend to make sure she really didn’t fall. In response to your question, Jane merely giggled, acting as if what she was doing was the most normal thing in the world.
“Stretching, duh” She began, but paused as she suddenly straightened herself up, and with a sound of satisfaction she placed her hands on her hips and stared confidently at you. “So, I guess I’ll be the first to say it, happy anniversary friend!” Jane exclaimed enthusiastically, wrapping her arms around you in a bone crushing hug, ultimately causing you to return the sentiment and to laugh as you hugged her back. Once you both broke apart, smiles adorning both your faces, you finally managed to allow a serious question to filter through your mind.
“Okay, so, I get the symbolism in us both being in this stuffy museum on such a gorgeous day” You started, emphasizing your point by gesturing to the crystal clear blue sky that lied just outside the glass dome, “But I kind of feel like the whole idea is a bit overdone. Any reason as to why we couldn’t be sitting outside enjoying a nice picnic or have gone swimming at the pool or something?” you questioned, your brow raising at your friend’s decision to come here. It’s not that you had a problem with being in the symbolic building, but more so you were just curious as to what made your friend decide to come here when there was so much more to do. You didn’t have to wait long for an answer as the mischievous grin was back again on Jane’s face, her hand wrapping around your wrist as she suddenly pulled you behind her, your form nearly tripping as she began to lead the way to some unknown location.
“What the heck!? Where are we going?! You know you don’t have to drag me!” you shouted, which you immediately regretted as you drew in the attention from basically anyone in the area, for the sound truly did carry in this part of the building. As you winced at your outburst you barely noticed Jane leading you into a nearby hall which connected to another, smaller part of the museum. You knew the route she was taking by heart however, not even letting the light streaming in from the large arched windows that practically blinded the both of you deter you from realizing where exactly Jane was going.
“It would be great if you could use your indoor voice, and I think you already know where we’re going…!” your best friend trailed off, the excitement evident in her voice. Even though you did know where you two were headed, you had no idea why, so you couldn’t help but let the question slip through your lips.
“Yea, I get that were going to the revolutionary war area, but you and I both know we’ve seen everything that there is to see there” you mentioned, a knowing tone evident in your voice. You especially knew that area inside and out. The one thing that was probably the base of your friendship with Jane was how the both of you were such huge history buffs, especially on American history, but, with that said, your preferred area of study was the revolutionary war, which was no secret to someone like Jane. You couldn’t help but wonder what all of a sudden made your friend so excited to take you to the one area of the museum you were familiar with most. Was there something there that you missed? Did she have a surprise there waiting for you? The thought suddenly got you excited as well, but you calmed yourself as Jane finally answered you.
“Well, actually, that isn’t exactly true. You clearly haven’t been reading the paper, ‘cause just yesterday it was mentioned how some anonymous source donated these really weird paintings, all of which had to do with the revolutionary war. Nobody has ever seen them before, and as much as I was itching to just come on down and see them myself, I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to share in such an experience!” Jane nearly shouted, unable to contain her happiness and excitement as she stopped at the entrance to the revolutionary war area of the museum. You now understood why she felt so happy, for your excitement definitely peaked at her words as your body came to a halt next to hers. An excited giggle escaped past your lips, a gracious smile making its way onto your face as you glanced at Jane. This was why you two were best friends. You two knew each other better than anybody else, and even though you knew Jane preferred to learn more about World War Two, she was just excited as you were about this discovery because she knew just how much you adored the colonial era.
“And I will not deny the fact that you definitely thought right!” You said happily, giving Jane the gratification she was looking for as your excitement was written all across your features. With your hand still held firmly in hers you decided it was your turn to lead the way, walking into one of your most favorite rooms in the museum. Your eyes had to take a moment to adjust to the dark lighting however, for the cat walk that made up the upper level of the room could only rely on the light coming in from the tall glass windows below. The entire room looked like it came out of the 1700’s, the floors made out of a rustic wood that creaked and cracked depending on what portion you walked on, and the walls were covered in a faded floral wallpaper.
In order to fully walk into the upper level of the room you had to walk by a grand staircase that lead to the main floor. There wasn’t that many steps, but the colonial detail would make you give a second glance to the historically accurate staircase. It even made the rectangular room look larger, the whole setup giving off the illusion of the room being much larger than it actually was. As you gazed across the catwalk you became especially aware of that detail, suddenly noticing how Jane wasn’t lying as your eyes darted to the new, foreign paintings that hung on the walls all around you.
The both of you let out sounds of amazement, and you couldn’t help but suddenly feel amused as you reminded yourself of the little boy you had just witnessed earlier exhibit the exact same behavior you and Jane were experiencing. Oddly enough, the both of you were so awestruck that you barely noticed you were not alone, and that just below you a man had walked into the room, his black loafers thudding silently against the aged wooden floor.
“Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this…” Jane trailed off, her form finding the nearest painting that had been recently put up. As she stepped towards the new painting, you started to follow, but before you could stand beside your friend a sudden glint caught your eye. Confused, you turned and glanced down the catwalk. You had no idea where the strange light could have come from, but looking back to see Jane still mesmerized by the painting she was staring at, you decided you may as well go and see one of the other new paintings. Jane would probably make it impossible for you to get a good look at the painting she was staring at anyway, only allowing herself the room to gaze at it intently. The thought caused a small smile to spread across your lips as you casually walked down the row of artifacts, and right as you turned to stare ahead the same glint from before was found in the corner of your eye, but right as you turned you were only met with the sight of one of the museums newly acquired paintings.
You were instantly intrigued. You figured the glint you saw must have come from the lamp that hung over the painting, not giving it a second thought as you moved closer it, the light from the lamp allowing you to see the detail in the picture as you neared it. What really caught your interest was what was actually in the painting. It was a war scene, but not like the others that had been hung up displaying what the colonial battles were like, this particular picture didn’t have destruction and chaos all throughout the background.
Instead, it had two men, one obviously an American soldier, and the other British, and this wouldn’t have seemed odd to you, except the American had a large group of soldiers behind him while the redcoat was all alone. Even though all the men’s muskets were pointed at the redcoat, you could tell whatever was happening in the painting was only between the lone American standing ahead of the group of bluecoats and the single British man. Your hands found the red velvet rope that stood as the barrier between observers and the paintings, the material soft under your fingers as you gripped the rope for support, leaning in closer towards the spectacle to see more of such an odd scene.
As you did this a sudden wave of emotion overcame you, so powerful you actually had to place a hand on your chest as you leaned back for a moment, your eyes zoning in on the bluecoat who stood directly in front of the British soldier. You took a deep breath as you wondered where this sudden emotion of… sadness? Had overcome you, and better yet, why you had a sudden urge to know who that lone bluecoat was. Unfortunately, the feeling only managed to grow in your chest, and your fingers dug into your shirt as you began to notice another feeling consume you along with your sudden wave of depression, and you would be lying if you were to say you weren’t scared to discover that exact feeling was longing.
You had to distract yourself. “Hey, Jane, do you know anything about these paintings? Like, who painted them, or, who exactly are in these paintings…?” You asked, your voice sounding shaky even to you, yet your eyes were unable to leave the picture as you tried to talk to your friend. You wanted to do nothing more in that moment than to walk out of the room, or better yet walk out of the building and get some fresh air, but it was as if your body had a mind of its own, and suddenly you were unable to stop yourself as you drew your hand up. It was almost as if something had taken a hold of your hand, drawing it nearer and nearer to the odd painting in front of you, but the more your face inched closer to it and the closer your hand got to the used canvas the more you realized that there was no other-worldly force compelling your hand.
No, the only thing forcing you to reach out towards the artwork was yourself, and in the exact moment you realized this a blue spark shot out from the painting, connecting with your fingers right before they could even reach the canvas, and shooting up your arm to travel throughout your whole body.
You were unsure if Jane even heard your previous question, but the moment you yelled from the pain that shot throughout your body you were rather positive you managed to catch the attention of anyone who happened to visit the museum that day, your body practically flinging back as your hand made its way to your head, unable to stop a hammering pain that you felt spread throughout your entire skull.
“All I know is that everything happens for a reason, but it’s our duty in life to figure out what that reason is”
A swarm of garbled memories and words attacked you, but you had no time to try and decipher any of it as your back slammed into the railing behind you, your face which was once twisted in pain contorted into one of surprise as you felt your weight begin to shift, barely able to recognize the sudden panic as someone called out your name, their footsteps rushing towards you.
”There’s no other way I can explain it, I just… the only thing that comes to my mind is that this would have to be fate, something like that…”
You faintly realized your weight shift, your upper body rolling over the protective railing as your arms shot out to your sides in a poor attempt to stop yourself from falling back, your arms flailing as your feet lifted off the ground.
”There was a reason you came into my life! And it could be fate or destiny, but by hell if I’m going to let it take you out of it too!”
Your eyes widened in terror upon feeling your full weight drag the rest of your body over the railing, your friend’s horror-stricken face finally finding its way into your line of vision as she reached over the railing to try and grab you, only to watch her hand just miss your feet by mere centimeters. As adrenaline and fear coursed through your veins you couldn’t help but finally scream, your hand reaching out for your friend’s even though you knew it was futile.
You had no idea how long you sat like that, your scream erupting from your throat as your hand hopelessly reached up towards Jane, her face full of panic and despair. All you knew however was that it was almost as if everything just stopped. You could only describe it as being suspended in mid-air, your scream somehow even sounding distant as you felt nothing.
Then, in the blink of an eye, it was all gone.