Unanswered – 1B

Unanswered (500 Words Day 2, 12/19/17, 1st person, fiction)

“Oh, honey, don’t worry about it.” The clank of the hastily cleared dishes filled the room and marked the end of the conversation.  Rose’s cheeks matched her name as she busied herself with the unnecessary cleaning that, thankfully, kept her back to me.  I knew what she was doing. I didn’t know why.

“I’m…happy to help.” Watching her shoulders tense told me my choice of words had reached her. I took perverse pleasure in her discomfort. I should have been the bigger person, I know.  I should have let her have her diversion.  If I’d known why she was avoiding me and the subject I might have let it go.  I’m really not a terrible person, most of the time.

“No, no.  I’ll only be a moment.  Sit, relax.  I’ll bring us some coffee.” She was gone before I had the chance to press further. I sat back in my chair and folded my arms across my chest.  Looking around the room my eyes were drawn to the large picture above the fireplace in the next room. When I say large, I mean really, really large.  I had seen it before, of course – being that large it wasn’t something one didn’t see.  I hadn’t given it any attention before. Honestly, its size was overwhelming and, on my previous visits, I stationed myself under it so I didn’t have to look at it.

My feet pulled me into the sitting room and planted me right in front of the picture.  With a wide stance and my arms crossed over my chest I stood and stared at it.  I was close enough to realize it was a drawing, not a painting.  It was all one color or, rather, it was made up of a lot of different shades of the same color.  The subject, a black man with a big smile, seemed to be in the room with me.  There was so much emotion worked into the lines and shading of the picture it really did seem lifelike. A part of me was fully prepared for the picture to start talking to me, sharing a story from the day.  Even though there wasn’t a color to be seen, I decided the man’s eyes were green and that his teeth were shockingly white. The collar of his shirt was clearly a soft blue, and the tie that was loose around his neck had to be dark blue speckled with tiny yellow dots.  The colors were there, even though they weren’t, and I felt close to this never-before-seen man. I did wonder why he was here, in this house, captured in this uncomfortably large picture. Who had drawn him, and why had Rose chosen to make him the focal point of this room? And why did I care?

“Do you know him?” The question and the voice startled me. I hadn’t realized how absorbed I’d been in the picture until I wasn’t. I turned around to see who had broken the spell and saw Harry, Rose’s youngest child, leaning against the door jam. I had no idea how long he’d been there or, really, how long I’d been staring at the drawing.

“I don’t. Should I?” I liked Harry and his unflinching way of asking whatever came to mind.




* All 500Words are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *

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