My friend has always been a bit strange. I marked this up to general eccentricities and social anxiety. She spent a lot of time on her own, refusing to hang out with friends for more than a few hours. She didn't drink or smoke, and by her own admission had never tried drugs of any kind. She always seemed tired; I think she spent a lot of time on her computer.
She was an amazing artist, though. Her work was always stunning, comprising high-contrast, hyperrealistic charcoal drawings and oil paintings. She hasn't made a name for herself yet, but I used to figure it was just a matter of time.
I'm not so sure now.
I recently commissioned her to do some sketches for an urban legends book I've had in the works for a while. I wanted to give it a feel like those old Scary Stories books we used to read as kids; I remember how the illustrations were almost unanimously thought of as the scariest part of them.
Her art somehow manages to capture the same feel, while having more realistic qualities to it: she can produce images of crime scenes, terrifying landscapes, fantastic monsters, all in astounding detail. When I approached her, she readily agreed.
When the time came to go over the finished product, we sat in the booth of a brightly-lit diner that she frequented, going one by one through the finished products: a crouching chupacabra, a goat-headed humanoid, the stretched proportions of Slenderman. They were terrifying in their realism, and a mixture of dread and excitement washed over me - that old feeling I used to get when reading those books from childhood. They were perfect!
A thought struck me, and I asked her to sketch out a picture of Bigfoot - not for the book, but just for me to have and say that I knew her before she was famous.
She gave me a thin smile and rubbed her forehead with charcoal-stained fingers. "I can't."
"Don't like drawing in public?" I joked, shifting aside the pile of sketches as our food arrived.
She waited until the waitress had finished, watching until the woman moved on to another table. Finally, she returned her tired gaze to me and answered with a defeated matter-of-factness, "I've never seen one."