The Paint Cans

December 6, 2010
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This weekend my brother and I will be visiting my aunt. She lives in a small hamlet about thirty-five minutes outside of Helena, Montana. My brother, Tom and my older sister, Mary, had visited her before, but this would be the first time I had ever gone to see her. I was eager to see her and wondered what she might be like.

We drove to her house on a frigid Thursday morning and arrived just before the sun had set. We arrived at her two story ranch home with a bright orange door. Tom and I got out of the car and walked to the front door. He then reached out and rang the doorbell. I looked over through the window and saw a small, black and white kitten sleeping in the window. The door then quickly opened and Aunt Sally greeted us. She was a tall woman with strait brown hair.

“Hey you two!” she said cheerfully. “I thought you would be coming pretty soon. Here come into the kitchen. I just took these cookies out of the oven.”

Mary had told me before about Aunt Sally’s Christmas cookies but now I realized that her tasty description was nothing compared to what we were now eating. These were the best cookies I had ever eaten. After we had finished eating the cookies, our aunt said, “Hey, can you two drive to the hardware store and pick up the paint I ordered. I was thinking you two could help me paint the living room.”

“We’ll be glad to help,” Tom and I said.

All of a sudden the little kitten jumped into my lap. “Oh, I hope you don’t mind Mittens likes to greet people.”

Mittens started to purr, curled up, and then fell asleep. “I don’t mind,” I replied, “I have two cats of my own. Can I take him with me to the store?”

“Sure,” she said.

Tom and I walked back outside with the kitten following us. We got into the car again and Mittens jumped into my lap. We had seen the hardware store when driving into town and it would only take a few minutes to get there. We parked in front of the building with the sign that read “Jim’s Hardware Store.” We got out of the car and walked inside, with Mittens still following us.
“Welcome, how may I help you?” asked Jim.
“Hi, we came in to pick up our Aunt Sally’s paint that she ordered,” replied Tom.
“Oh yes, I’m guessing you’re her niece and nephew visiting from Wyoming for Christmas? She told me all about you two coming.”
“Yes sir,” replied Tom again. “We’ll get the brushes first and then come back for the paint.”
“OK, let me know if you need help finding anything,” replied Jim.
Tom and I went to the painting section and got: brushes, two rollers, and a paint tray. Then I looked behind me and realized that Mittens wasn’t there.
“Tom did you see were Mittens went?”
“No,” replied Tom,”I thought she was right behind us.”
We then quickly went down all the isles looking for her. We had now come to the back of the store and found her chasing a little bug. “Oh there you are, we were looking all over for you,” I picked her up and held her in my arms. Looking around, I saw a set of small paint cans that had a label on them that said, “USE CAREFULLY”. I opened up one of the lids and the paint was light purple. I opened a second can and it had pink paint, and a third can had light green paint. The price tag on the set of cans said that they were only for two dollars.
“Can we get these too, Tom? Aunt Sally might have something we can use this for.” I asked.
“OK, sure” he replied.
We walked to the cash register and laid everything down of the counter. Mittens started to squirm so I set her down. I made sure I kept an eye on her to make sure she didn’t get away again.
“Did you find everything you needed?” asked Jim.
“Yes,” I said, “What type of paint is this?”
“Hmm… I’ve never seen them before. Where did you find them?” replied the cashier.
“I found them in the back of the store. My cat here went back there, and we found them on a shelf.”
“Interesting, I don’t know where they could have come from.”
We paid for our purchase and walked back to the car. When we arrived back at Ant Sally’s house, she had dinner already prepared for us.
“I made a pizza for dinner,” she said as we walked through the door.
“Thank you,” I said, “We love pizza; it’s our favorite.” Tom set down the cans of paint on the floor. Mittens jumped onto a chair and fell asleep, tired from her long and exciting day. We all sat down at the kitchen table and blessed the food. After finishing the pepperoni pizza, Aunt Sally said, “Mary told me that you love to paint, Sarah.” she started, “I have a canvas board in the living room for you to paint, if you have your brushes with you.
“We bought extra brushes and some paint at the store today, I’d be glad to paint something for you,” I replied.
“Great,” our aunt replied.
After watching a couple of movies, we became tired and decided to go to bed. Aunt Sally showed us our room upstairs. It was a large room, painted green, and had two beds on either side of it. I chose the one on the right side of the room. Tom had already put our suitcases in there earlier, so I pulled mine next to my bed. I then got into the bed and pulled the covers over me. Mittens walked into the
room and jumped into my bed. She was purring and curled up next to me and fell asleep. Shortly after, I fell asleep too.

The next day, I woke up and smelled pancakes. I ran down stairs to see what was going on. “Hey Sarah,” Aunt Sally greeted me, “Is Tom awake yet?”

“Not yet,” I replied.

“Well, we can go ahead and set the table.” She handed me three plates. Tom came down. “Hey Tom, you came just in time for breakfast.”

Tom sat down at the table. Our aunt put two pancakes on each of our plates and a piece of bacon. We ate heartily and afterwards, I said, “Can I paint now?”

“Sure,” replied Aunt Sally.

I got the canvas board, brushes and the paint we bought yesterday and started working. Penguins were my favorite animal so I decided to paint one. I would paint him in a modern art style. After about an hour, I had finally finished the painting and it looked like this.

I looked at the cans again to see if there was anything else written on them besides “USE CAREFULLY”, but there was nothing else written on the label. I did use it carefully so I thought I had nothing to worry about.
Aunt Sally walked past me, “Oh, that’s wonderful. I’ll hang it on the wall after it is painted.”
I asked her if Tom and I can go ahead and start painting the room. She said yes so Tom and I poured the paint into the pans. We were about halfway through with the third wall when I heard a small taping of feet in the kitchen. I thought nothing of it at first, thinking that it was Mittens going to get a bite of food, but then when I saw it walking past the door. I knew this colorful bird couldn’t be her…
“Wait! Tom the pe – penguin it, it, it just walked across the room in there.” I shouted.
“What penguin?” he asked.
“Come with me.”
We walked into the kitchen and sure enough there was the penguin with stripes, plaid, and polka dots. We stood there for a while shocked.
Aunt Sally walked into the room, “What are you staring…”
“When the can said to be careful I didn’t think it would do this,” I stammered.
“Were did it came from?” Aunt Sally asked.
I looked over at the painting it was white were the penguin was. “It came from the painting, I guess,” I replied.
The penguin walked up to me, and I picked it up. It didn’t weigh anything to my surprise. “What will we do with it?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Tom said, “I guess we should finish the room first then decide.” Two hours later we were back in the kitchen. We started to make dinner not knowing what to do next. That night, we were having salmon, which to the penguin was like eating candy. He wanted to have every piece of fish. Mittens woke up from her long days nap, and with one look at the penguin, ran out of the room and down the hall.
About four hours later, we decided to go to bed. We would keep the penguin in the kitchen and close the door to make sure he didn’t go anywhere. I quickly fell asleep that night, but then I woke up. The sun was streaming in through the window. Wait, I just woke up right? Tom was gone, and I smelled pancakes. I ran down stairs; they were already eating.
“Hey sleepy head,” Aunt Sally greeted. I looked over to where my painting was yesterday, but it was gone! The living room wasn’t painted. What happened? Was I dreaming?
“Is everything OK Sarah?” Aunt Sally asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I replied.
I sat down to eat my breakfast. The only thing I could think about was the penguin. Was I dreaming? After I had eaten, I went to look at the cans of paint. They still said “USE CAREFULLY”, but in fine print it read, “AND DON’T TRY TO PAINT A PENGUIN.”





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