An Easel This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 28, 2018
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He didn't know why he thought New York would be cooler than Ohio, especially in July. It was like some poor pipe dream he had manifested to comfort himself as he moved. Wren sighed at that as he took another stack of boxes to climb three flights of stairs. As he did so, in 90-degree heat, he reminded himself of early snow storms.

He imagined what snow would look like resting on the roof of his new building as opposed to the sun that was bearing down on it. He trudged up step by step, hoping this walk would be easier without boxes weighing him down. He wasn't even sure what was in these then. They had labeled the boxes in Welsh, in most part to confuse potential thieves. When his father had forced his way into helping, his Welsh had been rough and his writing messy. As if he hadn't already made this move difficult enough without confusing their boxes.
He sighed as he turned to the second flight, holding the boxes higher in his arms. He was tired, exhausted, and if he had a bed he would go straight to sleep in it. They left Columbus for New York at dawn, finally arriving at around 2pm and unpacking the car right away. They had been lucky enough to find a mostly furnished apartment, save for mattresses and a dresser or two. His father had insisted Wren leave his furniture in Columbus for when he had to come back, and in all honesty, Wren had been too tired to argue. So he was left to sleep on the landlord's lumpy couch until his mother got her first paycheck.

Wren never thought he'd leave Columbus, at least not until college came around. But when the affair came to light and the divorce went through, he had jumped at his mother's offer to move away. So here he was, turning to the third floor with a huff and walking past the two apartments he needed before getting to his own. He set down the boxes, swept his hair aside, and opened the door.

He could hear his mom bustling about the two bedroom apartment. She had been trying to make things light all day, knowing this wasn't exactly an easy day. She had been cheating at car games in the little Volvo they had rented and was dancing to The Beatles as she bustled around their living room. He knew this day had to be ten times more difficult for her, yet here she was with a bandana in her hair and a hum at her lips. He was grateful, so grateful, but he had to worry. 

"Wren, lle mae'r dillad gwely?" she called out with a scratch of her head. He set down the stack of boxes in the first empty floor space he could find and took a glance around for the bedding.

"Rwy'n credu fy mod yn eu rhoi yn eich ystafell chi," he answered, shaking out his hands. She nodded and walked towards her bedroom for what she was looking for. They had been at this unpacking thing for about an hour, and he was exhausted. It was already a draining day without the added on physical labor, and he found himself taking a lap around the apartment.

He hadn't moved much in his life, only once or twice within Columbus. Those couple of times that he had, he had come to love the feel of an empty house, or in this case apartment. The air was light and loose, full of possibility. It came along with an anxious feeling, but he could breathe as he walked about his new space.
As he neared his mother's bedroom, he heard her call out. "Your father called for you," she told him with no mind. She obviously wasn't well off with Rainer after it all, but she didn't want that to hurt her son. She knew that Wren would be far better off if he had a good relationship with both of his parents. It made sense for him to be angry right now, but the sooner the two could be resolved the better.

Wren would probably feel the same way if it wasn't for what she didn't know. He had made a point to keep the fact that he had caught his father in the midst of his affair before she had. He had kept that secret for months, and it ate away at him. It was still eating away at him. He'd never kept anything from his mother, but he had to consider that there had never been anything that he needed to keep from her. But he couldn't seem to let himself off that easily. He definitely couldn't let his father off that easily.

"What did he have to say?" Wren asked in a voice devoid of emotion. If he had been in her room with her, he would've seen the frown that crossed his mother’s features.

"He's sent something for you," she let him know, not knowing what it was herself. "Should be in your bedroom," she furthered as she exited her bedroom. She could see Wren turning a corner to see what his father had sent.

He found himself feeling conflicted as he took it in. Prior to his previous trip downstairs, he had begun to migrate his boxes to his room. Light poured in, shadowing the pile he had gathered, and where the light didn't reach stood an easel. The easel stood tall, and he could tell that it was more meant for painting rather than sketching. He could also tell that this wasn't just a kind gift.

Even when he had been on good terms with his father, he had been able to suss out his intentions. This wasn't a kind gift for his new hobby. This was a gift for silence. Rainer had known he had known, and clearly, he wanted that under wraps. This made the irrational part of Wren want to tell his mother about how the redheaded woman she knew her husband had snuck away with had also frowned at her son with acknowledgment. In the end, his guilt overruled his spite, like always.

He leaned against the doorway and found he had the urge to laugh. Art had been his coping mechanism while he grappled with this secret he was too young to keep. Here he was, attempting to move on, and his father was trying to backhand him with it. And to only make matters worse, he wasn’t surprised in the least.
Wren approached the easel, acknowledging its craftsmanship and its lines in the dark. Swiftly, he folded it in on itself, sweeping it away to where it couldn’t be seen. He stole another glance towards it in the back of his closet, walked down the three flights of stairs, and wondered when New York would start to cool down.

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