Yesterday, I completely forgot to post part 4 of my serial story, The Painter. So here it is a day late. Sorry about that. Enjoy! Keep letting me know what you think if this is your first time reading it. You can also let me know what you think if it’s not your first time haha. That’s up to you. If you have missed parts 1-3, search for The Painter on the search bar on the right hand column.
As soon as I walked in, I noticed the house was quiet. It was too quiet. I wondered what my parents were going to say about my absence. In my hurry to catch up with Sal, I didn’t leave a note. My mom was probably having an anxiety attack.
The kitchen was brightly lit when I entered. My parents were standing around the sink, yelling at each other. They were so engrossed in pointing fingers at each other that they never saw me standing there.
“It’s not like Ella to just go somewhere without leaving a note, Walter,” my mother said. “What if something bad has happened?”
“Like what, Laura?” my father asked. “I doubt she was kidnapped.”
My mother began to protest again, gesturing widely out the kitchen window, talking about how I was probably lying in a ditch somewhere. I knew that this was the time to step in.
“I think you’re over reacting just a little,” I said, causing both of my parents to whirl around.
The look on my mother’s face said it all. She let out a long breath and pulled me into her arms.
“We’ve been so worried about you! Where have you been? Didn’t you think to leave us a note? Haven’t we taught you anything?”
Her stream of questions didn’t stop until I pulled away. “I’m fine. I just went for a walk out into the woods. I didn’t know I would be gone for so long.”
“Going out into the woods at this time of night is dangerous!” my father shouted. “What were you thinking?”
I shrugged, not wanting to tell them the real reason I went out there. They would think he was some kind of old pervert and wouldn’t let me out of the house ever again. It’s best to just keep that one quiet.
They stood there, waiting for me to explain myself, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. I sighed, wondering what to do.
“I just got tired of being cooped up in this house. I’m sorry if I made you worry. It won’t happen again.”
“You’ve got that right because the next time something like this happens, you won’t leave the house until you graduate college. You hear me?” my father asked, his face turning red with built up anger.
I nodded and that ended the conversation. My father went into the living room and I heard the television turn on. My mother stood at the sink, still staring out the window. I could tell she was deep in thought and didn’t want to be disturbed.
Luckily, the next day was Saturday and I could relax without having to go to school. My plan was to stay on my mom’s good side and help her around the house so I could sneak outside that evening to meet with Sal. I had to know what was in that cottage. There had to be some significance.
That evening, I told my parents I was going to do some homework and get to bed early. To my relief, they nodded and didn’t say another word. I locked my bedroom door and climbed out of my window. All of my years of climbing trees paid off as I landed onto my feet.
Sal was waiting for me at the lake. Two easels stood before him and he motioned for me to take my place in front of one.
“What am I supposed to do?” I asked as he started handing me paint supplies. I looked at them like they were some kind of tools from another planet.
“I want you to paint.” He looked at me like it was that obvious.
Sal started swiping the brush onto his white canvas. I watched him for a few minutes as he started to create some other world I had never seen before. “Well, what do I paint?” I asked, staring at my still blank canvas.
“Anything you want. Just let the brush do the work.”
I did exactly that. My hand took control and I stood there for an hour just painting these bright colors onto the canvas. When I finished, I stood back and looked at the finished product. My heart sank as I started to criticize everything about it. The lake looked more dreary than magical. The sunset was very bland and had none of the colors I saw with my own eyes.
“Do you know what you did wrong?” Sal asked, wiping the paint off his hands.
I shook my head, feeling a knot forming in my throat. I was a failure and a disappointment. I couldn’t paint a lake and a sunset. How did he expect me to do what he did?
“You painted with your head instead of your heart. That’s where you went wrong. But, don’t worry, Ella. You will get there in time.”
Sal’s painting was beautiful. The world he created sparkled and felt so real. I almost wanted to jump right into the canvas and live there.
“I don’t think I can paint like you, Sal.”
He patted my shoulder and smiled. “Yes, you can. I have no doubt that you will learn.”
Sal led the way back to that mysterious cottage in the woods. He set his battered suitcase down on the ground and brought out his hand.
“We will leave your painting here for safe keeping.”
My head raced with thoughts of what was inside that house. “Can I come inside?” I asked, hoping for a positive answer.
Sal’s face turned grim and he shook his head. “It’s not time for you to see,” he said. “It’s not my place to share.”
“Whose place is it then?”
He merely shook his head again and shuffled his feet inside, shutting me out. I tried to peer through the windows, but they were too grimy from years of not being cleaned. This cottage has been sitting here unoccupied for years.
When Sal came back out, I asked him about the cottage again. Sal sighed and closed his eyes. He sat down on the steps and rubbed his frail arms.
“You’ll have to ask her.”