The Curator

An endless art gallery was the perfect place to ponder.

Infinitely generating. Infinitely repeating.

The Curator paused, eye drifting over a particularly striking piece. A portrait, its edges ragged and fraying, but the subject was clear. An angelic visage, chromatic and flawless. The artist's rendition of perfection.

The Curator sighed, a little envious.

Oh to capture her in such a manner...

The paintings repeated down the hall, dozens upon dozens, each different, each beautiful. All of the same strange girl. The gallery shifted and shimmered, humming under the strain, generating more. She wondered idly if she was the artist, and if so, what madness filled her to create and create and keep creating.

And it did occur to her, that she did not recall commissioning a mural to run across the entire length of the corridor, but art was a journey! An endless pursuit to portray and provoke! The mural, which had spontaneously appeared, spoke to something deep within her. Two figures intertwined in a permanent embrace. Pain and hope. Death and salvation. Her heart twisted in her chest.

How long had she been alone?

Vague memories haunted her mind of something similar to an art school. Words such as "chiaroscuro" and "decoupage" rolled off her metaphorical tongue with a familiarity that brought her great peace. But...she lacked context. What made art so wonderful anyways?

"I was beginning to wonder if you had abandoned your gallery,"

Oh! There she was, a little burst of sunlight. A familiar face in the sea of strangers.

"Impossible! My very soul was birthed for this place." The Curator's voice sounded as if she needed to blow the dust off it, unused to speaking.

ENA stood behind her, staring intently at a portrait. "An interesting subject indeed."

"You speak of yourself so flippantly, my dear!" the Curator approached slowly, head tilting as she, too, fixed her gaze upon the image. So complex, in a peculiar way. It carried a weight of hopelessness, dark and heavy with despair. ENA's form could hardly be made out within a murky sea of black. "Your visage truly does inspire."

Enough to drive one to madness.

ENA let out a small trill of a laugh. "I suspect these paintings were mere ramblings of a lonely soul." Her smile remained unwavering, as it always did. Somehow even the curve of her eye looked cheery. "Mere manifestations of a wayward madman."

"You belittle me," the Curator muttered in response. "You know not of what makes!" Her tone was pointed, gaze darting away from the strange girl beside her. Her nerves felt frazzled, skin prickling as ENA eyed her wordlessly.

"Now, now, why the long face? Are you aware of what a 'joke' is?" ENA waited for a beat before laughing by herself, a noise so contagious the Curator herself was overtaken by a gentle wheeze. She waved her hand absentmindedly. "Painfully. I simply despise being subject to it."

ENA placed a hand on her shoulder, gentle and warm. She leaned in close, voice barely a whisper. "Forgive me then, would you?"