Continuation of "The Girl With the pearl earring": He was every where

Its 1686, ten overwhelming years since Griet sold the last remaining bits and pieces she had of the man with the gray eyes, it’s been seven years since the day her world went from sufferable to one filled with torment and anguish, her only son drowned and she’s hardly getting on. She’s retired from her occupation as “butcher’s wife” all but officially to take refuge in her attic, in order to take up a few hobbies shed once forgotten, and start a few new ones that she never truly believed she possessed, she paints now; her son. Over and over again his angelic face covers every canvas, the hours pass by slowly, and the days seem like years. She can’t breathe without a sharp, burning pain blistering from her chest and spreading to every fiber of her being, her hands tremble vigorously when they’re not holding a paint brush. Her wide blue eyes pools of soul crushing emptiness and laden with every emotion anyone’s ever felt all at once. This is the face she’s seen in every reflective surface for more than half a decade, and its why she broke the single mirror hanging on the far side of her back studio wall. It’s been seven years and the hurt has yet to cease, his face still haunts her dreams, and she still sees his longing blue eyes when she closes her own.

Pieter knows her well enough to leave her be when she gets like this, and she’s been like this for a while, torn between guilt, anguish, enmity, and the growing ache crawling up her spine. They all assured her the pain would diminish as time went on but it seems as if every day without him it doubles, punishing her for all the things she could have done, should have done, will never do. Why didn’t she save him? She could have saved him, couldn’t she? She sent him to visit Cornelia, an old friend of hers from days not so dead. She had two kids of her own then and they always loved his company. It was so cold and she knew he was ungainly and that the ice would only enhance his inability to keep himself on his feet, but he begged (he’d always loved those kids like they were his own brothers) so she let him go, and he was gone. Maertge came to console her those first few weeks, but she had a family and children of her own to tend to. Not to mention that Griet couldn’t stand to see her so happy, so full of life and worse yet, looking more and more like her father. The world had taken everything from her and she couldn’t forgive anyone it favored.

She painted on and on, his smile, his tears, him sleeping, playing, laughing she remembered it all, he was embedded into her mind, into her soul. The connection they shared was stronger than any other, she loved her son, he was her entire world, her rock and the only thing that kept her sane, his absence consumed her. She took a deep breath, the air felt like daggers in her lungs; she put her brush down and made her way to the dining room to eat dinner. As she took her first steps in the room her husband stood agape, she hadn’t eaten in weeks. Her youngest maid sat next to Pieter as he ate, he’d taken a liking to her but Griet couldn’t care less, she couldn’t love him, she doubted she ever did. She forced her frown that had always seemed like it was permanently carved into her face into an indifferent line, she lapsed as she took her seat, her bones brittle from lack of use. The table was silent, both parties at soundless war with each other. Pieter and the maid exchanged confused expressions and resumed their cold stares fixated on Griet, her pale white skin clinging to her bones, her once beautiful face sunken in, their eyes never left her through the entire meal. She hardly had time to notice, her mind was off elsewhere. The memories had made their way into her again; they slid past all the walls she tried so hard to build up and left her drowning in remembrance, in a never ending melancholy that seemed to just pour into her.

The room was spinning, she couldn’t bear it any longer, and she hadn’t been away from her paintings for this long in years. Submerged in an ocean of torment, she was yearning for them, every one of her cells screaming for them, but her expression hadn’t changed. Stuck in her own personal brand of h*ll, she crept up the stairs and opened the attic door with a boney hand. Her knees gave; she collapsed in a battered heap. She laid there on the floor curling up into herself, trying desperately to old herself together she stared; he was everywhere. Her chest felt like it was caving in her limbs lead, her bones cried out in agony. It took all her energy just to convince herself she was still in once piece, that her heart was still beating, she dared not move. She stared into the deepest corners of her mind and she saw it all, her brother, her father, her mother she saw herself grinding his precious colors. She remembered the smoldering, throbbing pain in her ear as she tried to cover it up, in a desperate attempt to hide what she had done for him from the rest of the world; she knew they wouldn’t understand, she knew what the women at the market would think. None could see shed pierced it for him. She saw him painting her, looking so far into her she thought he’d never find his way out. She saw the furious face of his wife, and then the flashbacks flew by so quickly she only saw glimmers of her son’s birth and of his first steps. She clinged to these memories with everything she had but they slipped away, sand between her fingers, along with the rest of them. Next came a few images from the day she sold the earrings, of the day her son died... and then it was over.

The remnants of the past swirling through her brain calmed. She rested her eyes on a picture of her sons glowing face and as the contours of her world blended together, she was over. Pieter found her the next day, bursting into her attic for the first time in ten years, his eyes flickered from painting to painting. Horror ebbed in his veins coursing through his body with electric ease. He knew she missed him but, he had no idea… It was then his petrified eyes fell on her cold blue stare, gazing through the paintings surrounding her into something deeper, more final, her gray skin and cracked pale lips, drained of any sign of the life she once lead. Pieter fell to his knees as quiet tears welled up in his eyes and cascaded down his cheeks, he couldn’t escape him now. His son was everywhere, he always had been, and she made sure of that.





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