"Do Not Touch"
by Paul Liadis
“Do not touch” were the words Mark and Elizabeth heard repeatedly regarding the painting that now hung illuminated in the hallway between their bedrooms. Much to Mark’s chagrin, the artwork had accompanied them to their new house. Though Mark took great care to hide it in the back yard while they packed, his parents had somehow found the painting. Something about the picture made Mark feel uneasy, as though its composition was more than mere canvas and paint. One night in their previous house Mark was on his way to get a glass of water and was sure he heard a girl laugh inside the painting. He now runs past the painting, not willing to chance even a glance at it.
It was Elizabeth who made sure the painting hung in their new house, fishing it out of the bushes out back before they moved.
To a six year old like Elizabeth, “Do not touch” meant “Touch, but make sure Mom and Dad don’t see you.” The sight of Elizabeth mere inches from the painting, softly clutching Winnie the Pooh’s worn hand, startled Mark.
“Elizabeth, you know we’re not supposed to touch that,” Mark whispered forcefully as he approached his sister.
“It’s ok,” answered Elizabeth. “I touched it before.”
Mark ran toward his sister, hoping to stop her from touching the painting. Unfortunately, he was too late. All that remained of his sister was a lonely teddy bear and a giggle from inside the painting.