Out With the Old
by T Lynn Bryant
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She remembered the first time she saw that canvas. That face was looking down at her as if to tell her she wasn't good enough for him without even knowing who she was or what she was about. The face looked like it was telling her to leave. And that is exactly what she did, too...
"I could come by your place tomorrow? I still haven't seen what it looks like."
"Shanna, I'm just not ready for you to come over. Do we have to go over this again?"
"Yes, we do. It just seems to me like you're hiding something. We have been dating for over four months, Ethan. We spend most of our time together. We can't keep meeting in different stores and restaurants. I want to see your house and make sure everything is legitimate. When can I come over?"
"Ok," Ethan acquiesced with reluctance. "Since you put it like that, how about tomorrow?"
"Great! Tomorrow works for me. I'll see you about three o'clock."
As soon as she entered the house, she began to feel very nauseous. Then, she looked up at the work of art and lost control.
"Ethan, I'm sorry but all of a sudden I'm not feeling well. If you don't mind, can we do this on another day?" In her mind, she was thinking that she never wanted to see Ethan again. The vibe was that strong. She was ready to walk out of this house and never come back.
"Don't you want to see the rest of my house first?"
"No, I will see it another time. I'm just not feeling well."
"Ok," he said not wanting to sound too insensitive, but his feelings were really hurt. He asked in a cautious tone, "Is it ok if I call you later?"
"I'm going to take a nap and am not sure how long it will take for me to fall asleep, so I'll call you when I wake up, ok?"
"Ok," he said worriedly. Now, he felt like he was getting the cold shoulder, but was unsure what to do about it. He couldn't force her to stay.
All that evening, Ethan kept close vigil of the time. Why was this happening again? The first time, he thought it was something he did, but after a time he began to wonder if it could be his house. He wasn't completely sure but as crazy as it seemed, this only happened after he took a lady to his house. What was it about this house that drove women away?
Shanna had insisted on seeing his place but as soon as she walked in the door, she was ready to leave. The others left and he never heard from them again. He felt a connection with Shanna from the beginning. His feelings toward her were growing stronger every day and didn't want to lose her. He was determined to find out what was going on.
Shanna sat on her couch and wondered what had come over her. Their relationship was going very well, which must be why he finally decided to show her his home. She had been suspicious at first because it seemed like he didn't want her there. She had been so desperate to see his house but she literally walked in the door and was ready to go. Then, she thought about when she saw the painting. Actually, it would be more accurate to say when she 'felt' the painting because she did pick up a very strong feeling.
Now, she was wondering what she should do. Ethan was special and she didn't want to give him up because of a picture. It all sounded too crazy for words. She decided that she should give it all the benefit of doubt and try again another day. With that being settled, she laid down to take a nap. When she woke up, she called Ethan as she had promised.
"Heeeyy, you! I was beginning to get worried."
"What were you worried about? I told you that I would call when I woke up."
"I know, but that has been quite awhile ago. Are you ok?"
"Yes, I feel so much better after my nap."
"I'm glad you feel better."
"I do apologize. I will come by to look at your place tomorrow." She was feeling a little silly about the whole thing and wanted to prove herself wrong.
"Ok, that would be great!"
"Alright, see you tomorrow."
As she stood there waiting for Ethan to answer the door, that same feeling of uneasiness came over her just as it did the day before. Only it wasn't as strong, yet.
Ethan opened the door and greeted her, "Hello Shanna, please come in," he said as he stood to the side to let her pass.
As she walked in the door, the level of discomfort became stronger. She tried not to look, but she felt the picture willing her to look at it. It took everything within her to not look up over the fireplace. "So, show me your lovely house," she said as she looked at Ethan.
As he walked her through the house, she could still feel the strong pull from the other room. So, she was only half paying attention to Ethan as he was rambling on and on about this and that.
As soon as she saw the last room, she politely said, "I love your house but can we go somewhere else?"
"Where do you want to go?"
"Anywhere, but here. Then I will explain what's going on."
He took her down the street to get some ice cream. As they were sitting there chowing down on their ice cream, he asked, "What do you have to tell me?"
"This is going to sound crazy, but here it goes," she said and gave a nervous laugh. "How long have you had that picture hanging on your mantle?"
"That has been passed down through our family for many generations. I have only had it about a year. Why do you ask?"
"I don't know quite how to say this, but it has an evil spirit. Yesterday, as I walked onto your property, I felt a bad vibe. When I went into your house, I felt compelled to look directly at the canvas. Upon looking, I felt like I didn't belong there and that it was imperative for me to leave that instant." She remembered how strong she felt while standing in front of the fireplace. As she thought about it, she could feel her flesh crawl. "Anyway, after I got home, I told myself the whole idea was crazy and I had to go back."
"How did you feel today?"
"I could feel the picture as I was outside waiting for you to open the door. I decided I wasn't even going to look at the picture, but when I went inside I felt compelled to look at it. I resisted, however, the whole time we were there, all I could think about was the picture willing me to look at it. I knew that once I looked at it, then I would feel like I wasn't good enough for you."
"That would explain some things. The day after I got that picture, my girlfriend dumped me. We had been together for about six months. Every lady that I have brought to my house since then has left me. They would walk in and immediately start feeling sick. Then, I never hear from them again. You are the first lady who has called me back after coming into my house."
"That must mean we are meant to be together. Yesterday when I left your house, I was thinking that I would leave and you would never hear from me again. When I got home, I couldn't stop thinking about the whole thing. I thought about not seeing you again and that made me feel even worse. I have been trying to come up with a solution that doesn't involve losing me or the work of art. Especially, since it's a family heirloom."
"My dad's last wife had always been fascinated with that picture. She said the woman in the picture looked very independent, like she didn't want or need a man. She was really mean to my father but he loved her so much. She hated the fact that he was married once before her. She would tell him that if she died before him, that he wasn't allowed to get married again. She said she would make sure of that. Oddly enough, he never remarried after her. She even said that my brother, Bryce, and I shouldn't get married, either. She got even worse toward the end of her life."
"Why didn't she want you or your brother to get married?"
"She said that we were too much like our father, so we didn't deserve a woman."
"Oh my goodness! That is evil."
"Yeah, I never understood why my father married her. Anyway, I'm going to take her to my brother's house tonight. I don't think he is ever going to get serious with a woman. He won't even let many women in his house. He might actually like having the picture around. As a matter of fact, I'm calling him right now," Ethan said as he pulled his phone out and began dialing a number.
"Say Bryce, are you at home right now?"
"No, but I'm headed that way. Why?"
"I am taking the family heirloom over to you. I will explain when I get there."
Ethan got the picture from his house and put it in the trunk of his car. As he hopped back in the driver's seat I muttered, "I can feel that that thing from the trunk. That is so crazy."
"Well, I love you and want to be with you forever so forget about that stupid picture. We will take it to a church and let them exorcise her. I don't know that I even want that picture back in my house after this. It almost made me lose you. That would not have been good."
"Do you realize you said the 'L' word?"
"Yes, I know exactly what I'm saying. Yesterday, when you left, I was unbelievably miserable. All I could think about was losing you. I couldn't do anything except sit and pray that you would call. I don't want to live my life without you. I will never let you out my sight again."
Bryce had hung the picture up in his house the day after Ethan took it to him. It hung above his mantle for a year chasing the women away. He met Tracy and after a couple of months we all took the picture to a church to have it exorcised. After that, he hung it back up and invited Tracy over. The evil spirit was gone, so he kept it hanging there.
I have been married to Ethan for almost two years. Bryce and Tracy are about to get married. His lease is about to be up so he is moving into their house this weekend. Tracy is going to move in after the wedding. The canvas was already proudly hanging in the foyer welcoming their guests.
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