Sir Galahad, by Susie Altintas
At night, the painting haunts him.
He sees the crimson sword, the shade of crushed roses, and the glint of silver armor. Remembers the way the knight’s shield rests on his back like furled wings. Three angels at his side, leading him forward, dressed in snowy white. The angels’ bodies bleed into luminescence beneath their torsos, blossoming into the gleaming, gold van-Gogh-halos that radiate off of them.
Sir Galahad bows his head in a show of either submission or reverence. Maybe both. His long locks of hair, like melting amber, do not fall in his face as he looks down. His calling is cosmic. A divine purpose that’s etched into the serenity washed over his pretty, oil-paint face and the mysterious light that gleams across the lake at the foot of the hill. The light blinks and flickers and beckons, like a will-o-wisp in the woods. Silver dances, like spilled mercury, across the glassy waters.
Something greater calls to Sir Galahad.
He can’t push the painting from mind. If he could slip into his subconscious and paint over the portrait with snowdrop-white paint to erase it from memory completely, he would. For he could never be Sir Galahad. The otherworldly choir that sings to the knight will never sing for him. He believes that there is only this, then nothing more. Just dust and dirt and decay. Bits of bottle-glass that glitter, like jewels, on the sand, then wear and weather, eaten alive by the salt of the sea.
If there were another world, he imagines it would be beautiful. Pure and midnight-blue and stitched with silver-twine constellations. White and violet wisps of spun-sugar clouds. But, though he’s afraid to die, afraid to have his eyes sewn shut in forever-sleep, he simply can’t believe. Wish fulfillment, he decides, is all that is. Wishes and stories, myths and tall tales that got out of hand.
So no magic bark will carry him to his own holy grail. No heavenly vision will visit him as he rides past a solemn shrine at night. He will never be splashed across a canvas, his features immortalized by paint and pigment.
He will never trace the face of time.
Susie Altintas is a beginning writer and bicultural individual from the United States and Turkey. She was the undergraduate winner of the 2018 Ann W. and Emanuel D. Rudolph Student Book Collecting Awards for her essay "Identity Crisis" at the Ohio State University and, more recently, the undergraduate winner of the Marian H. Smith Short Story Prize at the University of Akron. Her favorite genres are science-fiction and fantasy.
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