I should have been writing last night.
Instead I spent a lot of time staring at a picture that I have hanging on on my wall.
It’s a print of some fruit (grapes, bananas, plums) in a fancy fruit bowl, but when you look carefully at you can see that the bowl is actually a hand and the stem under it is an arm.
It’s a subtle drawing with soft lines and it’s full of colors and shadows and all of it works together to hide that macabre message ( as I think of it )
in plain sight.
Less then subtle in the foreground, where it’s not hiding at all, is something that looks like rose peals scattered on the beige colored linen table cloth below the bowl.
My Great Grandmother- we never called her Granny Or Grandma or Gran- she wasn’t into having her age addressed – we called her Nan- bought that print back in the 1920’s and nobody knows where it came from- it just showed up above her sideboard one day- so the story goes.
Over the years it seemed some of us realized what that was a picture of but no one ever pointed it out- it was sort of like a test- if you saw what was in the picture and told someone who already knew, you were in the club.
That’s what it felt like anyway.
Nan passed away when I was about 6 years old and when I moved out of my Mom’ and Dad’s just before I turned 19 my Mom gave me my Great Grandmother’s sideboard and the picture above it.
I thought it made my new place perfect- and when I invited my friends over I set my house warming buffet on top of it and watched to see who would notice or see what was in the picture.
It was about an hour into the party when I was standing next to the buffet talking to my cousin when I heard someone laugh and then yell, ” Hey Anita…think fast “…
and then this soccer ball buzzed right by my ear and smashed right into my Great Grandmother’s print.
The frame splintered and the glass cut the 60 plus year old print to ribbons and in less then a minute there wasn’t enough left of the picture to hang on the wall.
I looked across the room to my friend
the first words out of my mouth were “What have you done? “
He cleaned up the remains of the picture and I watched him take the ruined frame and print out to the trash.
But instead of walking all the way down the path to the parking lot where the dumpster was I saw him walk to the flower beds and bury it- and when he came back upstairs he told me, ” that was one weird picture you know. “
He said some more- only I wasn’t listening because I was thinking to myself the entire time he was talking to me, ” It’s a good thing Nan is dead- because she’d kill you for that.”
My friend died a week later, he ran his car into the back of a parked truck- he was going over 80 miles an hour when he hit it.
It happned just down the hill from my Parent’s house.
” He was racing another car ” one of the Police Officers told my Mom. ” One of the witnesses thinks the other driver was a woman. “
What my Mom said will stay with me forever.
She said, ” I wouldn’t count on that.”
So how is it I was looking at that picture last night ?
Was it the same one from my childhood?
Of course it was.
Ten years ago we bought this house from my Mom and Dad and after they moved out she asked my husband to go up into the attic and pull down some furniture that she had room in her new place for after all.
He was up there for just a few minutes when I heard him call down to me, ” Hey, this would look great above your sideboard “
I remember walking to the trapdoor and reaching up and he handed me down the print and I took it, without looking at it and hung it above the sideboard…
where it is right now.
And to this day some people notice it for what it is and other people never do.
Just like this story.