Day 1

Put your music player on shuffle. Using the first song that comes up, write something inspired by the first and last lines of the song.

The first song that came up was Slow Love Slow by Nightwish.

The first line: Come and share this painting with me

The last line: Slow, love, slow, only the weak are not lonely

This woman is going to be the death of me! Weeks ago, at the suggestion of my wife, I hired this 20-something to help care for the paintings, lead some of the tours during the day, and when times were hard, to guard the paintings at night. I argued that I could do it all myself, that I’m only 59 years young. She was hired before I knew it.

I was sure my wife of 30 years had never met her. If she had, she never would have hired her. My wife knew my weakness for pretty red heads, for she was a redhead herself. While my wife’s red hair had turned a more faded orange with age, the new hire’s was a bright vibrant red that, when set against her pale freckled skin, made her absolutely glow. Even in the low lighting of the museum at night, I had no trouble spotting her. Her long red hair cascading down her back as she stood facing La Pieta.

“You needed me, Amy?” I said, no pretense, no manners. Contrary to popular belief, the museum was not as hospitable at night, and my warm bed still won out. I had warned her to only call if there was a real emergency, especially if she was on the night shift, so I hadn’t even thought to dress in more than just a jacket over my pajamas and my slippers.

She turned with an excited smile as soon as she heard my voice. “Come and share this painting with me” she said, and I knew it wasn’t a real emergency. I did wonder why she decided to pull her stunt that night though. She had already been working at the museum for nearly a month and had the time to see all the paintings that lined the halls several times.

It was as if God knew I was struggling, and he put her there that night to test me. In her low-cut top, barely even covered by her imitation bomber jacket, and a thin scarf that called attention to her chest, it was a test I would surely fail. One of the first things I had noticed when she first came from the agency was her affinity for tight pants. That night was no exception. She was going to be the death of me, in career, life and marriage. Still, I stood next to her, in front of the painting, more focused on the painting than her. Perhaps if I could resist her temptations and do as she asked, I wouldn’t have to sin.

Most importantly, I wouldn’t anger my wife. The painting was as it always had been. As one of my favorites, I had stood in front of it, admiring the beauty, the colors, the forms, and all the symbolism within it. In it, Jesus was a broken man, yet the artist had painted him as if he was just sleeping. The stigmata were not forefront in the painting. It was the rare moment caught after all of the crowds had left and the Romans had thought him dead for good. I kept my eyes on that rather than my pretty, young assistant to remind me of all the good that had come from my life so far. Also to remind me how quick it could be all taken away.

“I love this piece,” She spoke and I could feel her eyes on me rather than the painting, “You can just feel the suffering from Mary and Jesus and yet there’s this sense of  relief.”  I willed myself not to look at her, but to focus on the colors in the painting, the blues, and the faded reds and oranges. The same oranges that if I squinted reminded me of my wife’s beautiful hair. “Maybe that’s why your wife asked me to meet you here.”

I knew I had to look at her then. Why would  my wife ask her to do such a thing? It made no sense. Why would my wife set up a meeting between me and my assistant and not just tell me about it? Why all the secrecy? She was no longer smiling and her face was drawn in a serious line. There was no way this was all a prank.

I knew I had to say something, but she spoke first. “Do you know why your wife hired me?” She asked, her eyes not leaving my face. Even in the dim light of the museum, she could see my doubts, and I knew she was about to ease them. I shook my head and she continued to speak, her voice hushed, “She knows you have an attraction to red heads. She thought it would be easier if you had an attractive assistant.”

My mind was whirring, but I managed to focus on the events of the evening and not my anxious thoughts. “What would be easier?” I finally asked, unsure just what was going on. My tired brain struggling to grasp the gravity of everything. If my wife and my new assistant wanted to confuse me, shaking me out of slumber at two in the morning was the way to do it.

She took a deep breath, and seemed to struggle against the words leaving her mouth. “Rupert,” She said gently, the only word that freely escaped her lips, “Your wife was diagnosed with cancer months ago.” As soon as she said the words, it was like she wanted to pull them all back in. “That was why she hired me.” She continued, trying to ease the shock, “She knew if your attentions were drawn elsewhere, you wouldn’t notice her suffering.”

I just continued to stare at her. My mind was still trying to break down the information it had just received. How could I not notice that my wife had had cancer for months? How  could I not have seen the changes? In an instant, it clicked. “Why am I here?” I asked her, nearly scared to death for her answer.

“Did you kiss your wife goodbye before you left?” She asked, her face still drawn tight, no emotion getting through without her permission first. I nodded slowly, still thinking about the question and the relevance. Then all at once it seem to click. And she answered my thoughts or so it seemed. “She didn’t want to lose her hair and seem unattractive to you.” She explained. “She wanted you to remember her as she was, not what she would become.” She explained.

And I just ran. I ran to my car, and I raced home to my wife, only to find the flashing lights of police cars, and ambulances waiting for me. The white sheet covered gurney being wheeled down my front walk way, directly toward where I stood.

Giovanni Bellini's Pietà

Giovanni Bellini’s Pietà

The Song is here

Good Luck if you’re joining me for this challenge! I look forward to seeing your posts too!

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