I stopped outside the plain white door and shifted my notebook and pencil to my left hand so I could knock. A faint, wooden voice answered my knock from within. I turned the knob and pulled open the door, allowing the light to spill into the room over my shoulder.
“It’s been so long since someone visited me,” the soft, wooden voice said from the dark recesses of the room. “Come in. There should be a chair near the door, unless they’ve moved it. Dust it off, have a seat, and tell me why you’re here.”
“I heard you had a story to tell,” I falteringly started to explain. “I’ve always been interested in hearing the stories of those older than myself, and I thought I’d come write your story down to share with others. We can learn so much from other’s experiences.”
Squinting into the darkness, I located the chair, and knocked the dust off the seat, choking back a cough from the cloud that flew into the air. I settled into the chair by the door, as it seemed to be the only light source in the room, and opened my notebook to a blank page. As I got settled and penciled in the date at the top of the page, I heard a slight creaking sound as the object of my interview shifted woodenly in the corner.
“Ok, let’s start with the basics. Could I get your name?” I asked.
“Sure, it’s E. Sill,” came the reply.
“Thank you, Miss Sill. Is there a particular story that you’d like to share? Any special memory?” I queried.
The quiet stretched as I waited on a response. Then came a soft reply, “I do have a story I’d like to share, but it’s a sad one.”
I waited a few moments and then gently pressed her to continue.
“Back in my younger days, I worked in an art gallery. The owner of the gallery often called upon me to assist him in displaying various works of art. One day he brought a magnificent masterpiece to me and sought my assistance in displaying it. He didn’t say how long my assistance would be required, but it seemed to me that it could become a lasting position. To say that I was thrilled and honored was an understatement! I was ecstatic!
“As time went by, people flocked to see the magnificent work of art that I was displaying. At first it was honor enough to display the piece, but as time went by, I began to bask in the adoration of the people as though it belonged to me. I gradually put more and more of myself on display, and gradually fewer and fewer people came to observe the masterpiece I held.
“The owner would come and correct me, but it never lasted long. I had lost sight of my purpose, and wanted to take the glory upon myself. I felt that if it wasn’t for me, that the masterpiece wouldn’t be seen or viewed.
“Time went by, and the crowd dwindled further. Only one or two people still made the effort to come see the magnificence of the masterpiece. They had to work at it to see it, because I had hidden it behind myself. I was the one on display, not the masterpiece.
“One day, the owner of the gallery came by and sadly removed the masterpiece from me. He told me that I couldn’t be depended on to display the piece in all of its glory, and that he had found another who could be counted on to give the piece the exposure it deserved. To my shame, I informed the owner that no one else could possibly display the piece as well as I could, that I was just as necessary as the piece itself.
“The owner took the piece away and then returned to deal with me. A great sadness was on his face as he took me away. I’ve been tucked away in this dark little room ever since. I was so wrong. I wish I could tell the owner of the gallery how sorry I am for the presumptuous way I behaved. I wasn’t as important as that masterpiece was. I was just a tool that he could use to show its glory to others.”
I heard a slight noise behind me, and turned to see the owner of the gallery standing next to the door of the storage closet. “E. Sill, I’m so glad to hear this. You’ve learned an important lesson,” he said gently.
I stood and slipped quietly away as the two renewed their acquaintance.
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