Molten

The halls of the museum buzzed with the sounds of wandering people gazing at the arts formed from generations of artisans. Faith ambled down a hall adorned with hundreds of gorgeous paintings from the renaissance period. To escape the depressing grey tint that consumed the day light, Faith had decided to take a trip to the museum.

She had just paused to gaze at an enchanting painting of a landscape with a quaint cottage village in the mountain side when she heard the stampeding of feet and screams of panic coming from further down the hall. Curiously, Faith stared down the hall and watched as a mass of people started running towards her from the direction of the atrium. Stunned, she could only watch as a group of armed men wearing black ski masks sprinted after them and threatened to shoot if they didn't freeze and get down on their knees.

Mindlessly, driven by a rush of panic and adrenalin, Faith started to pivot on her foot to run with the rest of the group when she heard a loud pop. Almost like a firework. Her mind registered idly. A sharp stabbing pain registered in her torso and she began to fall back into the painting. Expecting to feel the pain of hitting her head on the wall, Faith hardly registered the strange sensation of being pulled into a thick pool of something unidentifiable. Disturbed, she glanced around her and stared, enraptured by the blending of the various colors as they flowed around her as she slowly got sucked into the vortex.

A wave of nausea and exhaustion overcame her and Faith fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

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The next time she woke up she was surrounded by tufts of soft, luscious grass. Prying her eyes seemed like the hardest task in the world, but her overwhelming curiosity to find out where she was took over. Her vision was greeted with the sight of towering pine trees, a small meadow and, in the distance, a small quaint town. The air was fresh, and the sun rays radiated down on her body, warming her skin, so she allowed herself to revel in the feeling as she thought over her situation.

The last thing I remember was those men barging into the museum and then that weird sinking feeling and all those colors. As she stared at the village below, deep in thought, in the back of her mind she felt as if the scene was familiar. As if she had seen it before. The feeling remained in the back of her mind as she wandered down the hill she woke up on and headed towards the town with the hopes of figuring out where she was and what had happened.

When she arrived at the small town after a short walk, the town was bustling with activity. Various men and women walked about as they went on with their business. Strangely enough, Faith noted, all of them were dressed in old fashioned clothes, almost as if they belonged in a different century. Maybe it's a renaissance fair? Faith questioned uncertainly. Suddenly feeling self conscious of her plain jeans and nondescript shirt, she hugged her arms to her chest as she walked into a small store that displayed various dresses and fabrics in the window.

A stout, motherly looking woman bustled towards her as soon as she stepped in the door.

"How can I help you deary?" The woman asked as she eyed Faith's jeans with a strange look.

"Um, I'm afraid I'm a bit lost...the last thing I remember was being at a museum and then I woke up on a hill near here. Could you possibly tell me where I am?"

The woman's look instantly turned sympathetic and she tittered. "Oh you poor dear! I'm not sure what this museum is, but you're in the town of Meadow Lake."

I've never heard of it and what does she mean she doesn't know what a museum is? Faith pondered, confused. "Could I use a phone to call my parents? I have nothing with me and I don't know how to get back home."

"Phone?" the woman questioned. "I don't know what that is, but you can stay with me until you figure out what to do if you don't mind helping me a bit with the shop."

"T-thanks." Faith stuttered. "I don't know what I'd do without your help."

"Now, now. Let's get you out of those clothes and into something more proper for a young lady. You look about the right side for some sample dresses I have stored."

Faith had been in Meadow Lake for over a year, working and contemplating her situation. It hadn't taken long after her arrival to become fast friends with Mrs. Farrell, the kindly woman who had taken her in. She had been introduced to everyone in the tiny town, but none stuck to her side quite like Mihael, the son of the local blacksmith. It wasn't that he was particularly handsome with his average build, chestnut colored hair and slate grey eyes. What really drew her in was his quirky sense of humor. As their friendship escalated into something more over the months, Faith had slowly but surely found herself in a 'courtship' as Mrs. Farrell had put it.

It was a lazy, sunny afternoon which found Mihael and Faith ambling down the familiar path that led to the hill where Faith had awoken. Mihael was chuckling at a snide comment Faith had made about the pompous daughter of Meadow Lake's only doctor when they reached the meadow at the top of the hill and plopped down, side by side, to take in the view.

A comfortable silence reigned over the two as they relaxed in the refreshing sun and Faith contemplated her mysterious arrival to the sleepy village. Something nagged at the back of her mind, teasing her with the feeling that she had seen the image once before. Mihael looked over at her and noted the downward curl of her lips. Sighing, he reached over and curled his hand around hers, bringing her distant mind back to focusing on him. She looked at him and smiled, sliding closer until they were leaning against one another's arm.

"You were in some pretty deep thoughts there." Mihael started. "I was almost afraid your head would explode, you were thinking so hard." He teased lightly.

Nudging his arm, she smiled. "I was just thinking that this scene is so familiar. I feel like I've seen it before."

"Well, I'd hope so! This is where you woke up, if it didn't look familiar, I'd worry you were going senile!" He said with a crooked grin.

Faith looked at him, faking exasperation. "You know what I meant. It's like déjà vu or something."

"Déjà what?" he looked at her confused. "You and your odd phrases! Like that other one, what was it again? Raining birds and squirrels or something."

Faith laughed before saying. "You mean raining cats and dogs? I guess it's normal where I come from, though I'm surprised you've never heard them before."

"I'd love to see where you've come from. You're so different from anyone I've ever met. Like a foreign animal." Mihael said absentmindedly.

"Wow, you sure know how to make a girl feel flattered." Faith said wryly, amused by his comment. "I wish you could see it too, I just don't know how to get back..."

The pair settled into another silence, both thinking on Faith's hometown. Mihael, not wanting Faith to dwell too much on what frustrated her so, pulled her into his arms and she settled comfortably on his lap and they cuddled together for a few minutes before Faith spoke up again.

"It's so beautiful here. I don't think I've ever seen somewhere more natural and refreshing."

Mihael hummed with agreement before answering. "It's very picturesque. If I had any artistic skill, I'd love to paint it. Don't you think it'd make a masterpiece?"

He went on to talk about how he had the artistic capabilities of a two year old, but Faith didn't hear him as her mind went into overdrive, clicking the pieces together. The painting at the museum! That's why this seems so familiar. How is this possible though? She wracked her brain trying to recall what happened on that fateful day. That weird sinking sensation I felt and all those colors as they flowed past, those must have been the paints. But...how did I get IN the painting? This shouldn't be physically possible. Her mind raced with all the possibilities and her body grew stiffer and stiffer as anxiety and confusion ran rampant through her feelings. A kiss on her cheek jerked her from her thoughts and to Mihael as he looked at her, concerned.

"What's wrong? You suddenly got really stiff and you looked really upset." He asked.

Too distressed to give a proper answer, Faith tucked her face into his chest and started to tear up. Confused, but understanding that she needed comfort, he rubbed her back and reassured her that he was there.

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Another month had passed in Meadow Lake, but Faith hardly noticed the time fly by as she thought and over thought her situation. Despite her realization that the world she was in was, indeed, a false reality, Mihael continued to worm his way into her heart as she desperately tried to separate the painting's reality from what she knew as real and true.

It was the beginning of fall, and the leaves had started to change into vivid hues of orange, russet, and ochre. Faith and Mihael were taking a stroll in the crisp air, chattering about their days and enjoying the warm afternoon sunlight before heading back to eat dinner.

Mihael paused in front of a particularly large tree on the outskirts of town and looked at Faith fondly. "Do you remember how we first met here?"

Faith laughed, a light blush dusting her cheeks as she responded. "How could I forget? If I remember right, I walked right into you and promptly fell on my butt, spilling all of the fresh plucked feathers everywhere."

He threw his head back and laughed heartily. "I was so struck by your beauty that I froze in my tracks and stared. You must have been distracted by my blinding wit to not have noticed you were about to run into me." He joked.

"Oh, yes. How could I have stood it at the time? I was SO stunned." She ribbed, laughing slightly.

After they had both calmed down a bit, Mihael turned to Faith with an unusually serious look on his face.

"The reason I brought you out here today is because I wanted to ask you something." He stated nervously, clearing his throat a few times.

As he began to kneel in front of her, digging a small box out of his pocket, Faith's whole mind screeched to a halt before conflicting emotions began to crest inside her.

"Faith Seawell, would you do me he honor of becoming my wife?" Mihael asked, his molten slate eyes gazing into hers nervously.

All the possibilities flew through her head at a breakneck speed, and there was a moment of silence as she pondered. If she married him she'd be choosing to accept the painting's world as reality, and she'd have to put figuring out how to go home behind her.

Another minute passed by in an uneasy silence and Mihael cleared his throat awkwardly, just as Faith parted her lips and uttered a firm, decisive "Yes, I will marry you."

And with that simple phrase, Faith put all her doubts aside and firmly embraced her new and happy life with Mihael in the sleepy village of Meadow Lake.

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Just as Faith had uttered her acceptance of her new life, in a hospital room far away, in what could be considered another dimension, the slow and steady beeping of a heart monitor came to a halt. As a grown woman sobbed over the loss of her daughter, if one looked closely, they could see the almost nonexistent smile on Faith Seawell's lips that she had worn as she slipped from life's grasp.