Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)
TITLE: He Drew My Picture
By CeCe Lane
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She sat there hunched and gray before the window, looking more like a pile of rags than anything living. Her beauty had faded into the lines of her wrinkled face. Her eyes—once surely full of life, laughter and vitality, but now dulled by age and disease--stared blankly at something just out of sight from my vantage point by the door.
I couldn’t help but wonder what memory was washing over her, transporting her back to a different time and place.
“Memories are best when shared, I should go share hers.”
The charge nurse directly to my left, as if reading my mind, looked my way and said, “This is no place for a lady like yourself, Ma’am. And she’s not worth your time. She’s crazy.” She motioned towards the elderly lady with her head. “Nothing to do for her, but wait.”
“Wait? Wait for what?”
“Her to die of course. You don’t think she’s gonna get out of here, do you? Not one crazy as she is. No, her only way out is in a pine box.”
My eyes opened wide in absolute horror. She touched my arm briefly as she passed by.
I had been coming here for months to help, and visit the residents. I had not noticed this lady on any of my previous visits. I knew she was a lady, even sitting there huddled in her chair. She had the air and grace, the regal presence of a true Lady.
I slowly moved forward. I wanted to at least smile a hello to her, to somehow let her know I cared for and about her. I touched her shoulder, feeling the bones beneath her thin sweater. Up close like this I could tell she had been a beauty at one time. And there was something there, something that made me think I knew her.
Her eyes never left the window; nothing in her presence attested to my touch. There was no quick startling, no drawing away in fear. She simply sat and stared.
I kept my hand on her shoulder, wanting to offer the comfort of my presence in any way I could. When she spoke, her voice was so low I had to lean forward to hear.
“He drew my picture.”
I looked around, then following her gaze out the window; I saw what she had been focused on. Across the street in a dilapidated store window, I saw the remains of a sign, “Portraits by…” the name had faded and weather and was no longer readable.
“I went up those stairs there…” she pointed a bony finger, “…and he painted my picture. He said I was his best client. Said I’d make him famous. And I did. He painted my picture. He drew my portrait. I went up those stairs and he drew my…” her words trailed off into nothingness.
“Who did? Who painted your picture?”
“He did. He drew my picture. I went up those stairs and he drew…”
There was a hand at my elbow; I turned to see the charge nurse. She was shaking her head. “I told you she was crazy. She thinks she’s the girl in the famous painting. She’ll tell anyone she is. But she’s nothing more than a crazy. Pay no attention to the crazy ramblings of a lunatic woman.”
The lady seemed not to have heard. Yet she stopped talking and now was sitting and staring once more.
“Do you know this woman’s name? Do you know she did not sit for her portrait?”
“I don’t know what her name is, no one knows. But she’s not famous. Just look at that face, who would want to paint that?”
I bent low again to see what this poor soul saw. This time there was a catch in her voice and tears on her cheeks as she said, “He drew my picture. I made him famous.” She turned her face fully to me, tears running rivers down her cheeks, and I knew. I knew she was the girl in the painting. Her name is Mona Lisa.
“I made him famous. And what did he make me?”
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