It was so hard to sleep that night. The noise of the raindrops, that hit the window. The bolts of lightning, that illuminated better than the candles in Markus’s room. The storm was bad, but that wasn’t the scariest one he had seen in his life. When he was a kid a thunder fell close to his house at midnight and he hid under his bed until the sun rose the following morning.
He wasn’t able to fall asleep. That storm reminded him of something. He stared at the ceiling. Deep breaths. Was it just a memory from a dream? He closed his eyes, trying to remember.
“Sea is for dreamers…”
That voice. He didn’t hear it in a dream. He lit a candle next to his bed and he stood up. There were some letters and sketches on a table. Maybe they could help him to recall. He picked up all of them. One by one. Looking for some clues. It was useless. But the answer wasn’t so far…
He lived in a small town, close to the high mountains. In a land of lakes, forests and clouds. Every summer, in the night between June 30th and July 1st, there was a huge bonfire and people danced around to celebrate the sun and the moon. In that special moment elders used to tell a legend: the story of Anastasia.
In that world there were two seas. The blue sea was very far from there. You needed several weeks to reach it, riding the fastest horses. It was similar to the lakes, except for the smell of the salt in the air that encouraged people to discover something unknown. Beyond the horizon. Someone thought there was an island in the middle of that sea, where the first humans were born: the lost island. Its inhabitants could build ships able to reach every part of the world, even the ones that everybody else considered inaccessible. Like the ice islands, where ice mountains moved fast in the water. Like the hill of the devil, where a river of fire flew from the top. Like the other sea. The white sea.
Fishes were too heavy for swimming there and there were only a few drops of water inside. It was formed by huge white clouds that reflected the light of the sun and the moon creating rainbows. Instead of the salt in the air, there was the smell of tulips and violets from the only island in that sea. Every year in the summer night people from the lost island went there for lighting a bonfire and adding few stones to a lighthouse, making it higher and higher. Getting closer to the stars in the sky. The following morning, after that sun had risen, all of them used to come back to their homeland. Except for one time, when a young girl decided to stay there, waiting for the following night of the summer. No one but them had ever seen that sea and she wanted to make some illustrations from the lighthouse, showing how wonderful that place was to all the people around the world. But no one came back to rescue her. Someone thought the lost island disappeared that same morning. Someone said that they forgot how to build ships for going to sea. Someone suggested that they chose to leave her on that land, cause it was the only place where the time wouldn’t have changed her smile. She started to draw everything that her eyes and her heart could see: every flower on the island, every cloud in the sea, every star in the sky. Her name was Anastasia.
According to the legend the high mountains close to Markus’s town were the closest point to the lighthouse where Anastasia remained. For that reason many painters came to his village, painting in the streets, in the forests and at the edge of the lakes. Trying to capture the soul of the sky and imagine that island in the white sea. He was fascinated by the movements of their hands that, instead of forging the steel, spread colours. It was so difficult to talk to them for him. His shyness stole his voice and gave fuel to his imagination. Every question that he didn’t make turned into several sketches in his mind and he started to write about them in his notebook.
There was an old man, with long white hair and a tired face. But his eyes were vivid like the kids’ ones. He had learned from people that had passed away a long time ago and he had taught their grandchildren. He had visited more places than Markus was able to imagine. Talking with many people during his long journey, facing the good and the bad sides of humanity. He used black, grey and brown in his paintings, except for the lighthouse. Painted with bright colours in the middle of the canvas. A light in the darkness.
There was a woman, with a straw hat and red short hair. She didn’t like to talk so much. She was from a land famous for the local painters. She hated to stay there. She wouldn’t have had the chance to choose her fate. Her hands were very fast, like her legs moving from one town to another. The shapes were agitated. They didn’t want to remain on the canvas, they wanted to move with her to the moon. The only thing clear and defined in her painting. It gave a feeling of calm. That calm she would have found in a place that she hadn’t discovered yet.
And there was that young girl. Her skin was very pale and her light eyes reflected everything that looked at them. She moved her brush softly as if she was caressing the canvas. She looked so peaceful. Whoever would have seen her would have perceived her peace of mind. Like Markus and his pencil, that stood still. Until her hands stopped to paint and she sat down close to him, starting to look at his notebook and smiling.
“Thanks for remaining here. I love when people give me a bit of their time. We always run. We always think about what will happen next. We always complain about the past. When I paint I feel like that time stops for me and for whoever is enjoying my work for a while. I have noticed that you were holding the notebook and the pencil while I was painting. Could you give them to me? I would like to draw something for you. The place where I have grown up…”
The thunderstorm was finally over and Markus was holding that notebook, that had fallen under the table during the night. In front of his eyes there was her sketch…
“I lived on a small island, surrounded by flowers and clouds. I remember that I and my mother loved drawing together. Especially in the rainy days, when the raindrops hit the window and the bolts of lightning pierced the sky. She always told that she had decided to remain there a long time ago. It was the perfect place for dreaming…”