by Paul Nain
A single bed, a lonely house. Simply furnished, with practical kitchen and teak floors that creak at night. Small enclosed patio leading to quaint, well-maintained garden. One owner, for eternity.
The only thing that looks slightly out of place is the bedraggled recliner; circular indentations in the floor betraying its original location next to the large bay windows. His favoured chair, surveying all of creation. But not now.
He has since moved it closer to the large painting occupying the opposite wall and keeps the windows firmly shut. The curtains are drawn, their dark, red velvet a vigilant and unforgiving guard against the infiltration of light.
The orchestrator of these recent changes sits huddled beneath a thick blanket, his eyes fixed firmly on the painting. Just beneath it, two lamps infuse the room with a soft light. They are perhaps his favourite pieces; gifted existence by his own hands.
His gaze traces the intricate detail as the painter's brush might have, passing over the massive tree that dominates the background, the rich colours conveying an improbable tactility. Life bursts forth from this garden, barely constrained by canvas and frame. Yet in the foreground, beneath the sweeping branches of the great tree, an odd emptiness. A vague outline of what may have been two figures. A betrayal.
His eyes shimmering with the deepest sadness, the old man rises, lingers a final moment before the lamps, then exits. The echo, as a lock clicks into place, seems to ring out for eternity.
[Paul Nain is a religiously unaffiliated creature of the wheel. He'd like to think that he writes to get to the end of his first novel, but in actuality he writes because it's just so much fun.]