The Memory Painting

The buzz of the doorbell broke Ivy’s concentration.  She stepped back from the canvas and rolled her shoulders to ease the ache she hadn’t felt while she worked.  The doorbell buzzed again.  Longer.  It sounded like the person outside was pressing the button down without letting up.  She thought about ignoring it but the damage was done.  She’d been pulled out of the world she was creating.  Now, her fingers cramped, her stomach growled and her eyes burned.  She glanced at the wall where the battered rooster clock had once hung then remembered she’d packed it into the box going to charity.

A fist pounded on the front door while the doorbell continued to buzz.  She blew out a breath.  It had to be Jake.  Patience had never been one of his virtues.  Wiping her hands on a rag, she walked through the house and opened the door.  Jake stood there with his fist drawn back ready for another assault.

He lowered his hand.  “Thank God.  I was beginning to think you’d fallen and hit your head or something.  I’ve been ringing the doorbell for the last fifteen minutes.  I was almost ready to break a window.”

“I was working.  Do you always go visiting at the crack of dawn?”  As soon as she said it, she realized she was wrong.  It was well past dawn and there were several inches of snow on the ground outside.  The last time she’d looked, there had only been a dusting.

He frowned at her.  “It’s two in the afternoon, Ivy.”

“No wonder my stomach is growling,”  she hesitated for a moment before opening the door fully and stepping back so he could come in.   He obviously was going to keep bugging her until she listened to whatever he had to say.

Jake stomped his feet on the mat and followed her. “I haven’t had lunch either.  Why don’t you grab your coat and we can go to Wyatt’s for a burger.  The roads are pretty clear.”

Saliva pooled in her mouth at the thought of a Wyatt Burger.  Thick, juicy, topped with  Swiss cheese, leaf lettuce and sliced tomatoes.  She swallowed and pressed a hand to her grumbling stomach.  Lunch wasn’t the only meal she’d missed.  Yesterday, she’d wandered into the kitchen to zap a bowl of soup then she’d looked at the canvas she’d prepped and had a vision of the picture she wanted to create.  She never had heated up that soup.

“Ivy, are you okay,” Jake touched her arm and she jumped.  She would like to blame the jolt of electricity she felt on the carpet, but neither of them had moved from the parquet in the entry way.

She rubbed her hand over her forearm.  “I’m fine.  Just a little tired.”

Jake reached for her hand.  “You’re bleeding!”  He turned it face up and scowled.  “You’ve cut yourself.”

“I’m fine.”  She tugged but he didn’t let go.  “I told you I had been working.  Aluminum has sharp edges when you cut it.  Her hand warmed where he touched it.  It felt good.  Right.  She jerked it back and tucked it in her pocket.n

He narrowed his eyes.  “I thought you said you were going to mash the cans to make your daisy.”

“I decided to do a different picture.”  She chewed on her lip.  “Wyatt’s sounds great, but I’ll need a few minutes to clean up.  I could meet you there.  They brought my car back yesterday afternoon.”

“Yeah, I saw it in the driveway.  Go ahead and get ready.  I don’t mind waiting.  No point in having two cars out in this.”  He walked into the living room and perched on the arm of the sofa.  Ivy imagined her mother was rolling over in her grave in protest and the corner of her mouth twitched up.  “I’ll only be a couple of minutes.”

A couple of minutes turned into fifteen once she’d looked into the bathroom mirror.  There was no way she was going out in public with her hair staning out in all directions and shadows under her eyes deep enough to hide a small mammal.  She shuddered.  No wonder Jake had asked if she was alright.  She looked like one of the walking dead.  The quick shower she took helped clear the fog from her brain and the few minutes she spent brushing on makeup and twisting her hair up didn’t work miracles, but at least she no longer looked ready for a coffin.

She pulled on a clean pair of jeans and her favorite tunic then walked back to the living room.  Jake no longer perched on the sofa.  She glanced out the front window and saw his car still parked behind hers in the driveway.  Where had he–the kitchen.  Her picture.  She ran through the house and her sock-clad feet skidded on the tile floor.

Jake stood by the table looking down on the canvas she’d placed there when she began gluing on the metal pieces.  “I can hear the music of the carousel and the screams from the roller coaster,” he murmured.  “I smell Italian sausage and hot grease.”  He turned to face her.  “Ivy, it’s, it’s,” he shook his head and turned back to the canvas.  “Wonderful is too tame a word.  You said you didn’t paint.  This is a painting, not just beer cans and glass.  The little girl by the ring toss stand–that’s you isn’t it.  And the young man with you?”

“My brother, Donny.  It’s the last time we went to the fair.”  She stepped up beside him.  “It’s not finished yet.  I just started on the ferris wheel.”

He shook his head.  “I would never have believed old cans could be turned into a roller coaster that feels like it’s moving and you can already tell the ferris wheel is going to be amazing.”  He reached for her hands and held them lightly.  “I’m awed by your talent, Ivy.  I always have been.”

“You never told me that.”

He met her gaze.  “I should have.  I should have said a lot of things I didn’t.  I think I was afraid once you realized how talented you were, you’d wonder why you had hooked up with a third rate hockey player.  Then I’d lose you.”  His mouth twisted.  “And guess what happened anyway.”

“You didn’t lose me, Jake.  You threw me away,” she said.

Check out  Keziah Fenton’s next scene







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