If you read this and thoughts on a painting of an unknown girl

This is meant to be a writer’s blog.If you care to read it you will find a little of everything. Stories, poetry, essays and a political rant or two. Constructive criticism and differences of opinion are appreciated and will be treated with respect Things like “I hate this” will be deleted without remorse. you are warmed. Not all my posts  are meant to be read together. Some will be short writing exercises, Stand alone bits of poetry, etc. Read the titles to avoid confusion! Enough  introduction, on with the writing!

The old house is a shambles.   Ivy has grown up around the posts that used to support the railing of the ramp, the top of which has been missing for some time now.   The grass growing  in between the boards tickles my feet as I step warily onto the aging porch.   Not for the time I wonder what I’m doing here.   It was her last wish I remind myself as i enter the house and try unsuccessfully to squash the feeling that I am an intruder in this house and I’m one step shy of being tossed out on my ear.   The first thing I notice as I  walk through this house is a painting.    The young lady looking back at me is strong, determined, almost defiant in her bravery.   Something about her seems oddly familiar.   Some relative of hers, maybe her mother, in which case the determined look makes sense.   Anybody who raised a child with Cerebral Palsy had to be strong.   I’m not sure if I could do it.   I make a mental note to take the portrait down and take it with me when I leave.   The memory of such a strong woman should not be forgotten, left to molder and rot in some derelict.

Hours later I’m sitting in the basement surrounded by the pieces of a woman’s life, reduced to so many knickknacks and printed pages.   The swords and gun oil are laid carefully on a clean sheet. The blades surprised me a lot, she seemed so quiet.   The boxes and boxes of books however do not, the lady was a self admitted bookworm.    Though I have to wonder at the little things I noticed.    Like the claw marks in the wall, left by a cat named Wolverine perhaps? The fist print in the bathroom wall.   Whose was it and what had made them mad enough to do that?

The most interesting question I suspect is at least twenty cardboard boxes. On the top of each box the letters “BRG” are printed shakily in what might be blue magic marker.   Dates are also printed on the boxes, so I open the box dated earliest.   Inside are three ring binders with title pages under clear plastic slipcovers that read “The Blue Rose Letters”   I whistle softly to myself, this is going to be quite a read. So I take the painting down off the wall and carry it to my car, carefully packing the boxes around it.

At home, I grab a Dr. Pepper from the fridge, a bad habit I suppose but suitable for the situation I think. “Ms. Rachel,” as everyone who worked with her called her, had loved Dr. Pepper.   If she had nothing else she had Dr. Pepper in her fridge and tea in her pantry.   It was her habit to have at least four glasses of tea a day, with two spoonfuls of sugar in each. That was her daily routine, with only two exceptions. For one day, on September fourteenth she drank A&W Root Beer though on any other day she would say she never did like it.   The other day which had a routine all it’s own was November twenty second.  A canister of white tea would be set out on the counter with a note from the previous shift requesting that any brewed that day come out of that and remain unsweetened.   After that at least one glass a day was made without sugar until the canister was empty.    I settled into the most comfortable seat in the house and crack open the first binder.

Three days, six binders, and I lose count of how many glasses of tea and bottles of Dr. Pepper later, I’m stunned.   Spread across the pages, typed neatly in black and (sometimes) blue ink is the log of a relationship  that spanned decades and defied explanation.    Most of their letters are perfectly ordinary, but they are still somehow special.   Perhaps that feeling comes from the fact that the letters were written as often as they were, scanning the dates I can see that these two rarely went an entire week without writing  each other. Something in one of the letters reminds me of something and I rummage through the boxes until I find what I’m looking for.

I carefully lift the aging photo album out of its box and begin to turn the pages gingerly. On the inside cover “Mistwallow Castle Family Album” is written.   I know that most of the photographs were taken within a vitual reality computer game. As I turn the pages I find that I’m reading the names to myself, Greg and Ivy, Duchess and Sky, Eileen and Sol.    I smile fondly at the last two and say, to no one one in particular,”the Lady of the Blue Rose with her Knight.”   In the back I find individual pictures of everybody.   Some are side by side with what must be real life photographs.   Someone has captioned the real life photos with what I assume are given names. A few even have nicknames and birthdays written underneath.

Over the next two months I finished reading the notebooks. Sometimes I felt bad as if were invading someone’s most private space. butI was determined to get to  know these two people.    It wouldn’t be fair to them if they were forgotten.   A week before Ms. Rachel’s birthday, an idea struck me.   I went to the local art store amd bought oil paints and canvas.    It took months to finish, but right around the middle of November  I was satisfied and was able to hang the picture where it belonged.

If you walk into my living room now, you will see two paintings, both of exceptional people.   In one a young woman sits alone, daring the world to test her mettle.  The second two people are dancing in a black and white tiled ballroom.    If someone where to look at the photo album on my coffee table they might recognise the ballroom but not the people though they should The young woman stands straight and proud, finally seen as herself, in the arms of the man who always had. I like to imagine that the smile on her mother’s face is one of pride. Finally a picture of my daughter as she really was.


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