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Anastasia was one of those beauties about whom legends are told and fables are formed.
She was the inspiration behind the oil painting that hangs in the great hall at the Palace, she has or rather had a luminescent quality to her skin. A fresh youthful bloom jumping from the canvas as if the figure was fully animated and about to say something gay to amuse all those present. She had presence and poise in abundance, standing there her hand gently curled about a branch of a lilac tree, the colour of the blossoms complimenting her natural dark colouring: Hanks of heavy ringlets curled about her temples and wilfully escaping the white hair band stretched across the crown of her head.
I stared long and hard at this inanimate copy of the lady, and it seemed to me the harder I stared the more the foliage ruffled in the wind and the more the sun shone in dazzling shafts through the clouds. This mirage owed more to the artist’s talent than to my imagination, although I’m sure that when I half glanced away, her hand would move just slightly, bored with her constant upright vigil in this beautifully crafted garden.
In person, Anastasia was a live wire, quick witted and even quicker to chide, she would order the servants about and ‘keep house’ as she put it from a very early age.
Hot tempered, yet she had a cool candour, a down –to –earth frankness that appealed to every one who met her. She was loved by admirers and friends, and had a loving family with whom she would act the mistress of all that you could see, cleverly intertwining her desires with the purposes of her current foil.
She had long, dextrous fingers and proved herself talented on the lyre: She would practice for hours on this instrument and would ask neighbours and friends if they would accompany her in soft duets and ballads of a lyric quality. They invariably agreed, not wanting to vex their darling, and she in turn remained sweet natured for the whole of the recital, enthralled and enthralling her audience with her mimicry and imitation of the best ‘players’ around.
She enjoyed being the centre of attention, and was quick to draw the gaze of ample admirers, even those whose affections were otherwise engaged, with one of the other beauties of the age. But who could resist her imperious charm that demanded the adoration of mere males?
Anastasia , however, had a curious quality about her, during the course of the month , she would hide her hands at intervals wearing short gloves of fine textured lace or long gloves of soft velveteen material.
Even when the hot weather arrived, without a breath of fresh air, when the heavy clouds hung low in the sky and water droplets saturated the skin, with hair that locked the moisture next to the skin of the neck, her hands would remain unseen and who could guess at their state beneath a lady’s covering; no-one dared asked for the instant removal of the cloth to question the apparent shape of a fine hand…
Yet that would have been the instant betrayal of other worldly events. The Moon and her minions held sway over Anastasia and governed her moods and even the make-up of her skin when the Moon was full. The soft fleshy tips of her fingers, so adept at playing the lyre, would sprout claws and tips of fine fur.
Lycanthropy was a difficult affliction to hide, impossible to keep under wraps, as it were.
I like the openness of this ending. In spite of what each of us seems to be, we may be something altogether different in reality. Michele Dutcher
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