The Diary of a Picture

December 31, 2007
By Meagan King, Clermont, FL

The sun was shining through the clouds on this day in 1818. The trees were abountantly green, and the view of the Tindle estate from the hill overlooking made it seem as though it was new, and not three generations old.
Katherine Tindle was the talk of the town. Her husband had recently disappeared, and she couldn’t leave her house without the whispers and stares. The entire situation and sleepless night of wondering where her husband was had caused her to become hateful and hardened.

The last thing Mrs. Tindle needed right now was someone to look after. Yet, a letter informing her that her niece, Margaret, was coming to live with her had arrived about two weeks prior. As she pulled the lace curtains back to look out the window, she realized that Margaret was there.

“Hello aunt Katherine,” said Margaret as she looked around the three-story house with awe.

“Take you bags up-stairs, I want to talk to aunt Christine,” said Aunt Katherine.

As Margaret made her way up the stairs, Aunt Katherine and Aunt Christine began to whisper. Margaret could hear them though. Aunt Katherine was trying to convince Aunt Christine not to leave her.

The situation was nothing new to Margaret. All her life, she had gone from relative to relative. Her mother and father had abandoned her. She had no memories of either of them. Being wanted and needed was a feeling that she had never experienced.

Margaret’s best friend was a paintbrush. She would find the most beautiful spot in whatever town she was living in, and paint for hours. The town of St. Kevin was especially beautiful. The full moons were spectacular and sunrises were amazing.

Every night she would wait by the lake until the moon’s reflection was perfect. She had this strange suspicion of being watched while painting though. A crackle in the leaves here, a rustle in the trees there; she tried to tell herself that it was just her imagination, but the feeling never left her.

Life went on though. Months passed and winter had come and gone. Aunt Katherine still had not as much as spoken to her. Margaret was basically raising herself, which was nothing she couldn’t handle. Going from relative to relative had caused her to become quite independent.

There was some excuse for Aunt Katherine’s behavior though. She had not left the house in months. There was no sign of Mr. Tindle, and aunt Katherine’s savings were running out.

Margaret willingly took up a job at the local post office. Her painting would have to be put on hold for a while. Night after night, Margaret walked home alone through the dead apple orchards, and the feeling of being watched was still there. Only this time, it was feeling of being followed.

Weeks of feeling as though she was in danger, Margaret was almost completely paranoid. She was certain that somebody was following her home at night. She began to watch for any clues, keeping a close eye on anyone around her.

One spring morning was especially awkward. A man came in and out of the post office at least 5 times and every one about town was talking about a certain man staying in the hotel.

All of the happenings from earlier in the day had made her especially fearful on her walk home that night. By the time she reached the apple orchards, she knew something was wrong. She just knew it was the strange man who had been in the post office earlier. She heard footsteps matching the speed of her own. She began to run, the footsteps still keeping up with hers. As the footsteps behind her got louder and louder, she knew whoever it was, was catching up. His hand grabbed her arm, and before she could take a deep breath in to scream, he put his hand over her mouth. She kicked and tried to get lose, but his grip was too strong. Finally, the fight was over.
“Calm down.” He said as he took his hand off her mouth.

As she turned her head to see who it was, she realized that it was not the man from the post office.

“Who are you?” she asked.

By now he had let go of her arm. Margaret stared directly into his eyes.

“ My name is Alan Hainsworth.” He said still staring into her eyes as if waiting for her to say something.

After a moment of silence he said,

“I’m you’re father.”

Margaret was in disbelief. She began running again, only this time he was not following her. He just stood there on the moon lit hill overlooking Aunt Tindle's house.

So many things were flooding her mind while she ran.

“ Who took my paintings? Who was the man in the post office? Was that man telling the truth?”

She burst through the doors and ran up to Aunt Katherine’s room.

“What do you want child?” Aunt Katherine asked.

Margaret was trying to catch her breath, “A man… grabbed me…. said he was…. my father.

Aunt Katherine sat up, “ What do you mean?”

“I don’t know, he chased me down and said his name was Alan Hainsworth.

Aunt Katherine was in shock. She was completely speechless. Margaret just stared at her.

“That is your fathers name. Where did he go?” Aunt Katherine asked.

“He was on the hill, look out the window.”

They both pulled back the white lace curtains. There he was, still standing on the hill. The moonlight was just bright enough for them to see him.

Aunt Katherine grabbed her robe and ran down the stairs and out the door. Margaret followed close behind her.

The man was looking the other way and didn’t seem to notice that they were running to him. Margaret was still confused. Nobody had seen her parents for almost 17 years.

Margaret watched Aunt Katherine closely as they stood next to the man. If anybody would know what was going on, it would be Aunt Katherine. As the man turned around, Aunt Katherine’s face went almost completely white and for the first time, she smiled.

“Alan!” Screamed Aunt Katherine as she hugged him. “Please, come inside.”
Margaret still had not said anything. She just watched Aunt Katherine and Mr. Hainsworth. She couldn’t understand it all.
“If this is my father, where is my mother and why did he come back now?” she thought.
As they sat down in the living room, Aunt Katherine was acting happy as ever. Mr. Hainsworth seemed to be in shock himself. He had not seen his daughter Margaret since she was born. No one said a thing about the fact that both Mr. and Mrs. Hainsworth had not been in contact with any of the family for nearly two decades.
Finally, Mr. Hainsworth stood up and looked Aunt Katherine in the eyes.
“I want Margaret to come and live with me.”
“What about my mother. Will she be there?” Margaret asked.

“Your mother and I divorced.” He said with tears welling up.
As he tried to control himself, he straightened his shirt and asked, “Well? Will you come and live with me?”
There was a long moment of silence. Margaret stared at Aunt Katherine and then back to her father. The ticking of the clock seemed louder than anyone had ever heard it. You could almost hear all the hearts in the room beating faster.
“Yes, I will come and live with you, but I’ll need at least a day to pack my things and say my goodbyes.” Margaret said shaking her head as though she couldn’t believe what she was saying.
“You have until tomorrow afternoon.” Said Mr. Hainsworth.
Margaret immediately rushed up the stairs to pack. She was brimming with joy, but she dare not let it show. She was literally stuffing things into her suitcase, but when she reached for her diary, it fell behind the dresser. As she went to grab it she discovered a picture. It was a picture of a seemingly prominent man.
“Could this be Mr. Tindle?” she thought?
As she studied the picture a bit more, she noticed that it looked strikingly like the man in the post office earlier. She put the picture on Aunt Katherine’s bed, hoping to see the man again when she went to get her things the next morning.
Margaret quickly got back to packing her things. The next morning she walked briskly down to the post office to get her things. She had never felt this way before. She was happy and unsure at the same time, but she knew that she now would have a permanent home.
As Margaret was collecting her things from the post office, the mysterious man appeared again. There was no doubt about it. He was the man in the picture.
Mr. Hainsworth was helping Margaret into the carriage, when Aunt Katherine hastily burst out the door.
“Who moved this picture?” She yelled with tears running down her cheeks.
“I did.” Said Margaret. “I found it while I was packing.”
“Well why on earth would you put it on my bed?” Said Aunt Katherine.
Margaret looked Aunt Katherine in the eyes for the first time and sternly said, “Because I saw that man in the post office.”
As Margaret turned to get into the carriage with her father and Aunt Katherine ran towards town, I step back. I step back to look at the painting of an older man helping a young lady into his carriage in front of an enormous white Victorian style estate, while a woman runs with a picture in her hands. I wonder what the real story behind this painting is and realize, that a painting is worth a thousand words.

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