An Ancient Family Portrait

August 24, 2010
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.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

Aelita said...
Sept. 6, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Good, but I don't really get it.


fireeyedgirl replied...
Sept. 7, 2010 at 11:45 am
I don't mean to be rude, but that was possibly the least useful feed back I have ever recieved. Why was it good? What didn't you get? How could I have made myself clearer. I appreciate that you read my story but I thrive on constructive critisism. Help make me a better writer! I didn't ask for your review to dig for compliments.
Aelita replied...
Sept. 7, 2010 at 7:43 pm
Fair enough.  The way it's written makes it very intriguing.  I like how you kind of hint at something supernatural, but I would've liked it better if you made some connection.  You foreshadowed that there was something unisual and appealing about the old photoograph, but I'd like to understand what.  Were the people somehow haunting, were they framilliar, did they remind her of something, did they provoke thought in her?  Also, the line about the photo retoucher seemed ... (more »)
Aelita replied...
Sept. 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm
Will you check out some of my work?
Confused_scheherazade This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 13, 2011 at 12:35 am
Hi, it's me. You reviewed my work earlier. Your writing style is good and intriging, but the last paragraph needs some extra details. You captured the beginning great, but why is the person at the end so intrigued. Also, there were five people in the portrait at the beginning, then six, why? Keep on writing.
fireeyedgirl replied...
Aug. 14, 2011 at 9:27 am
As always, thanks for the feedback! I really apreciate it. It was meant to end with the girl getting  zhooped into the portrait. The implication being if you stare too long at the picture (and it has a strangely hypnotic quality) you become a part of it. In my mind it started out as a blank canvas before it took its first victim.
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