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That painting. That d***ed painting in the parlor. It hung on the wall like a spot of cancer in an otherwise pristine household, marring and taunting. Many nights I spent looking at and examining every brushstroke and every whisper of the vibrant paint. I never figured out the exact secrets held within the painting, within her eyes, but I know they exist. I know that within the very fiber of the colors and the details of the silhouette lay a great truth to be foretold, it was- and is- my never-ending task to find it.
The artwork itself was quite exquisite. On a background of beautiful gold held the darling face of my long lost lover, June. And much like the month of June her eyes held a blistering passion and deadly sunlight which no man could resist. And the most curious thing: captured within the painting was this very power, this very allure, as if she herself hung upon the wall. She was dressed in delicate garb, a gorgeous, red satin number of the finest prose. Every detail, from her brow to her bosom, was perfect. Not a single hair was out of place from the fine bun she held in the back. If ever there ever was a captured second of godliness, this was truly it. No finer being had ever graced the floor of this unworthy planet, and no frame had ever been so lucky as to forever hold her in its grasp.
However, as is my nature (and that of most men) I found but one flaw floating breathlessly within the sea of perfection that was this painting. Her lovely eyes, a dark brown, almost scarlet, looked just over my right shoulder out into unfilled space. She did not stare dead on as in most paintings. This gave me a feeling of deep loathing as I tried desperately to look in her eyes and therefore in the soul I love, but it was not to be. I could not get her to look at me! No matter how much I begged, no matter how much my spirit pleaded to look in her eyes one last time, to feel that cascade of sunlight, I could not. She was trapped forever within the canvas, and I was trapped forever just outside of it, staring back in.
I spent days and nights staring at the painting, try to trick it by moving just so to my right. Perhaps then I could look her in the eyes, but again my ventures found no triumph. I grew weary of reminding myself of the fact that she wasn’t actually there on the wall. Yet no matter how this tired rationale sprang forth, my heart couldn’t bear the truth. With every failure I could feel myself growing madder, spinning into insanity like a top. I would try and try every day to get her to see me, to know I was here, wanting her, but alas I failed much like I failed to keep her alive. Every time I felt this disconnect, this river of wanting only to plunge off a cliff, I would retire to my quarters and weep on a four-poster bed for my long lost beauty.
After many months I began to grow weak and thin. I refused to eat until I found what I was looking for, this of course being the secret to getting her back from the grave. My servants grew weary of finding me in the parlor, staring with wide eyes at the d***ed thing. Every time I refused a meal or went a day without a single speck of work getting done they would simply tsk to their pleasure and move about their lives with ease. I of course have lost this ease as my entire being was devoted to that painting. I don’t know if it was prolonged grief that kept me paralyzed before the painting, or simple insanity, but one truth remains: I was there with the painting every chance I could get a hold onto. After some time I decided to move my study into the parlor and no minute would pass until I looked up onto the painting of my beloved and tried again and again in vain to find the way to bring her back. After each failure I could feel my soul fracture and my mind split into a white-hot sun of rage and a deep, sunken hole of sadness. Some would say I was completely obsessed with the painting ever since the day my dear June passed from pneumonia and I subsequently had the painting created, but I laugh at such allegations. I know why I am here, I know my purpose! Even after everyone in my life resigned themselves to the truth that I would never leave the house again, I still stayed. Every time I looked at her porcelain face I would find something new. A darling mole on her neck, a new fold in her dress that I had to stare at for hours. There was always something alluring about the painting, always something to find. And yet, it never gave me reason, the truth to why such a gorgeous entity had to be ripped from me and leave desperate, wailing, unquenchable thirsty roots.
One autumn day, while I was writing a letter to a dear friend, trying to regain some normalcy, I heard an indecipherable whisper in the air. I looked up with mad eyes and pricked ears. The sound traveled about the parlor and was gone as soon as it arrived but I could not quite find the source. There was no one in the house; these letters were the only contact I had with others nowadays. But sure enough I heard it. In the forefront of my mind I could just barely grasp the sound that I was sure I had heard. I had to find the source; I had to decipher the message from some interminable ghoul. I had to know, had to know!
Then, like the sober clink of a bell, I found it. It was June. I slowly turned to the painting and tried again to behold its bewitching gaze. Surely she was reaching out from the mysterious other side and she was trying to give me hope, some pleasure of life again. Surely she was floating invisible in the parlor, waiting for me to parish so we could be together again. Surely, surely she knew I still loved her so! I jumped up from my chair, knocking it over, and rushed to my gilded-framed darling. I half expected to see her talking to me like she had many years ago, to come alive from the canvas and kiss me passionately. She simply sat within the frame, still as a stalk, hands folded, looking as always just to my right.
I heard it again! That d***ed whisper. I was sure of it this time; June was trying to be with me again. She knew how much I wanted her here, to hold her again in a loving embrace, she knew it. She was coming back. This was my chance.
“June!” I screamed. “June!” I pleaded. “Come to me darling, early or late, may you never feel my grief, just come to me! I need you here; I so yearn for you!”
But, as one could foretell, the painting didn’t move, didn’t flinch, and didn’t so much as give a hint that it was anymore than a painting, flat and beguiling. I examined the frame, every inch of the canvas.
“This is some sort of trick!” I raged. Hooligans and vandals are trying to send me to an asylum. But I will not have it. I am no fool.
After the realization that I had truly grown mad had come to me, I decided I needed a respite from my home. I, with dragging steps, left the parlor and wrapped myself in my finest traveling cloak. I began to make my way up the street toward the middle of the quaint town that June and I once called home. The cobblestone gave a satisfying clack every time my cane jutted down upon it. What a relief this is! The fine, sun-soaked trees gave a gentle hush with every breath of wind. The quiet people of the streets went about their days, buying bread and meat for supper and enjoying the normalcy of plain life. I observed these gents with a fond curiosity and deep resentment; surely none of them had ever lost their truest love. None of their families had ever been torn to pieces by wretched disease; none of them would ever know the quiet madness that lurked patiently in my parlor, waiting for me to come home.
I stopped mid step, the whisper had returned. It was like the insatiable buzzing of a wasp, just by your ear. I turned around maniacally, looking toward the cloudless sky for answers that never came. The desperation festered in my belly and with a grief-stricken demeanor and crazed, dilated eyes I searched for the voice’s owner. Not a single person was near me. I was truly alone.
I ran with vigor back to my lonely mansion, to the walls that had become my prison for the last many months. I entered through the large mahogany doors and dropped my cloak to the floor and dashed to the parlor with baited breath. I half expected the painting to be gone, or for June to have disappeared from it entirely, leaving only a bold backdrop of gold in her wake.
I decided to act. If June would never be with me then that is my fate. I grasped and dismounted the painting from the wall and set it down carefully on the parlor table with a loud clunk. One last time I examined her face, trying desperately to find a living, breathing being inside. I tried to find her, God knows I did. When I was convinced there was nothing more to the painting than what met the eye, a single tear ran pregnant and full down my cheek and landed on her lifeless face. I sought matches and oil. I returned with a lamp and a box of lights. I began to unscrew the well from the lamp and dumped the oil onto the painting; it immediately set in to the paper, turning the once gorgeous colors into molten filth. She was gone, and this painting was nothing but maddening heartache to me. I had to be rid of it. I began to cackle loudly in the lonely din of the parlor.
I struck a match and watched as the flame danced and soaked in the precious surrounding air. Looking once more into the mighty face I had seen in nightmares and dreams I let the match fall gracefully onto the painting. It thusly exploded into flames with a mighty whoosh.
“June!” I bellowed and immediately began to sob like a sick infant. I couldn’t believe what I had done. The once gorgeous, pristine face captured forever in paint now wilted in the light of the fire. The flame began to spread slowly to my fine oak table and by this time June was burned beyond the point of recognition while I sat in the nearby corner weeping over my love that was now truly lost. The last remaining relic of my goddess, my love, my everything had been destroyed in a rush of insanity and flame. As the heat began to consume me, peeling away at my nerves and skin, tearing away my clothing, preparing me for a life with June, I laughed once more to myself and looked to the ceiling that was now being licked with orange fire. I could finally let go of all the pain I had felt for the last many years. I could be happy again, and with a divine rapture held within my very last breath, I knew true freedom.