Y is for Yuri

Yes, I’m Yuri Cross. Don’t ask if I’m descended from Judith Cross, the famous artist. It shouldn’t matter who I’m descended from. I’m an artist in my own right. My work is nothing like Judith’s. She was a portrait artist, even if she did other things on the side. I’ve chosen to embrace my surreal side, which was more of a dark secret for her. Surrealism wasn’t really an art form, while Judith Cross was alive. More of a type of madness. I fear it’s becoming a madness for me, as well. Too much of my art comes from my nightmares. The setting changes, but the woman is always there. She’s pale, with long, dark red hair. Her hair is actually quite beautiful, but there’s nothing beautiful about her smile. Her lips literally slide off her teeth, exposing long, sharp fangs. I scream myself awake at this point of the nightmare, if I’m lucky. Sometimes, the woman chases me through an old house, filled with stairs. There’s a portrait on the wall. It’s of the same woman, who’s chasing me. Her painted mouth is moving, but I can’t hear what she’s saying. I can’t stay and listen. I have to keep running. I’ve managed to stay out of her reach, thus far. I wake up, before the redhaired woman can touch me. I keep dreaming about her, though. I try to paint what my nightmares, in an attempt to exorcise them from my mind, but my attempts are failing. Only a fraction of my dreams make it onto my canvas. I can never paint the woman, not entirely, just bits and pieces of her. Westerleigh loves these paintings. (see ‘W is for Westerleigh) He doesn’t care if they reveal a terrifying aspect of my psyche, any more than he cares if I’m male or female. I’m Yuri, which is enough for him. It means more to me than I’ll ever admit, his acceptance. How could I be any less accepting of him? Even when he does things, which seem reckless, or unwise. This was why I swallowed my fears, when ‘Leigh showed me a letter from his long lost cousin, Fiona Hartford. (see ‘F is for Fiona’) Fiona lives in a great old house, which belonged to Westerleigh’s ancestor, Elizabeth Hartford. Westerleigh is in love with every tale, trinket, or sketch, which has anything to do with Elizabeth. He’s so proud to be descended from a mad magician, obsessed with immortality. Well, he’s also proud to be friends with a crazy artist of ambiguous gender. One learns to smile indulgently at ‘Leigh’s pride. For years, he’s wanted to visit Hartford Hall, to see Elizabeth’s portrait hanging on its wall. Portraits of strange women in an old house? Not to mention it’s Elizabeth Hartford, of all people. Yes, I know about Judith’s affair with her. I’ve ever read some of Judith’s letters, so I know Elizabeth became the source of many a nightmare for her. All of this is way too close to my own nightmares for comfort! Not for Westerleigh. An invitation to come to Hartford Hall for a dream come true for him. Only that was the catch. Fiona Hartford was very keen to meet any other ‘female descendants’ of Elizabeth Hartford. Yes, she was under the impression that Westerleigh was a girl. ‘Leigh thought of confessing the truth, but he *really* wanted to visit Hartford Hall. Dressing in drag seemed like a small price to pay for seeing it at last. It struck me as a really bad idea, but when ‘Leigh asked me to turn him into a girI, I couldn’t say no. Not, when he was looking at me with those big, soulful eyes, brimming with childish hope. Besides, I’d secretly fantasized about dressing Westerleigh Hartford up in white lace for years. I had an antique gown in my closet I really wanted to see him in. Sure enough, ‘Leigh was as lovely as any Gothic heroine, once I put him in the dress. Off he went to Hartford Hall, every inch a girl. Well, almost every inch. I haven’t heard from him, since. I’m starting to worry about him. I’m starting to worry about me, too. My nightmares are coming true, at least a little. I’m starting to see the redhaired woman in my dreams, in the corner of my eye. Sometimes, she’s outside the cafe I visit, looking through the window. Sometimes, she’s walking down the street. Other times, she’s been right outside my bedroom window. Always looking, but not really seeing me. She can’t find me, not yet. She’s searching for me, though. What will I do, when she finally catches a glimpse of me? I’m not sure if I want to find out. If you want to find out, let our author know. Westerleigh and myself are part of an idea she had, when she wrote ‘E is for Elizabeth’ and ‘F is for Fiona’. The idea has a story title, ‘A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words’. If you’d like that idea to become a story, let our author know. Not that I’m sure if you should. I don’t want the woman from my nightmares to come any closer to me, than she already has.


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