The portrait had cracked and faded over the years. The family it portrayed looked out over the museum, blank-faced and indifferent to their surroundings. All five people had the slack jaws and glassy eyes of someone who had been forced to sit very still for a very long time. Even the toddler, who, on a normal day probably would tear around the house leaving chaos and disaster in his wake, looked lifeless and dull.
Well, of course he looks lifeless and dull, I thought, jerking myself back to the present. They all do, portraits are not alive. I didn't know why this particular painting bugged me so much. Normally I skip past stuffy old portraits without a second thought. This one stuck out for me, it looked different from the others.
“Sophie,” my friend called to me, “hurry up! The museum closes in an hour and I really want to see the Picasso Exhibit, it's leaving soon.”
“You go on ahead,” I replied absently. “I'll catch you up.” I took another step towards the entrancing family portrait. I had moved so close to it that my nose almost touched the face of the empty eyed mother. I knew I should move back away from the painting but I couldn't bring myself to move. I felt my jaw go slack and my eyes drift in and out of focus. All I could do was stare and stare and stare.
The painting restorer gave the portrait he was working on a double take. The painting portrayed six people. It looked very ordinary but something about it caught his attention. The expressionless faces were almost hypnotizing. He leaned forward, finding himself unable to do anything but stare.