30/30 – 10 | Picture

He stares at the spot on the wall.

All around it, empty geometric shapes, where the sun had faded the wallpaper, marked where photos, plaques and knick-knacks once were.

He stares at the spot on the wall.

Somewhere subconsciously, he acknowledges movement around him as the remaining odds and ends of their life are carted out of the house. He knows he should be helping; doing something constructive. Hell, doing anything other than what he was doing at the moment.

He stares at the spot on the wall.

His sister, passing by the doorway at the time, thought she may have seen it, but the now familiar melancholy that had become his normal expression of late was back in place so fast she was sure she was mistaken. She let him have a quiet moment alone and walked away.

He stares at the spot on the wall.

When she returned twenty minutes later, he still had not moved. She entered the room and stood next to him as he stared at the spot on the wall or more precisely at the sole remaining picture on any wall in the house.

The framed oil landscape, not more than a few inches square, was in that exact spot when he and his wife first moved into the house. He thought it was the most hideous thing paint was ever wasted on. She, of course, loved it. She joked about it being removed over her dead body. In the beginning he felt she kept it just to spite him. After a while it became just a part of the décor. They occasionally forgot neither had purchased it in the first place when asked about it. Since both liked the wallpaper that was there when they moved it, neither had touched the walls in five years. It dawned on him that it was highly possible that neither of them had ever touched the painting except to dust around it.

His sister shook her head in confusion and made a move to take it down. He grabbed her by the shoulder, a little more forcefully than he intended. It all showed in his expression as she backed away from it.

She watched as he gently took the painting down. He felt something unexpected on the back of it, turned it over and burst out first in laughter, then in quiet tears. He peeled the yellow paper from the back of it before handing the painting to her. She returned the picture to its spot on the wall. Let the new owners decide. With a long deep sigh, he handed her the note he had removed from the painting.

I had better be so dead if you’re taking this down babe! read the Post-It Note.

She smiled a bittersweet smile; it was so like her sister-in-law to leave such a note.

She gestured towards the front door and he nodded, picking up the box with the last of the belongings as they stepped out. For the minutest span of time it felt like the very first time they opened the door as the new homeowners and the first thing he saw was the painting on the wall. He took one final sad look around, the painting being the last thing he saw before closing the door and stepping over the yellow and black tape of the police line.
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