The picture on the wall.
I first noticed the two pictures over forty years ago, when I first started to court my wife. They hung on the front bedroom wall at my in-laws house. They were both the same scene of a seaside view, one of a boy and the other of a girl of about eight years old. The figures were close up and behind them was a cliff with a calm sea washing along a sandy beach. They were both stood, looking straight out at you, cut off from the waist. By the clothes that they both wore I would have said that they were from the nineteen thirties. The colours were softly depicted and not distinct and the style of the paintings or prints was not something that struck out at the eye.
They were part of my wife’s childhood and had hung in her bedroom all the time that she had lived with her parents. She had never liked the pictures and declined to say why. That was until our own children had grown up enough to stay with their grandparents for the odd weekend. We had three boys that grew up and finally left home to make homes of their own. Each of them stayed with Janet’s mother and father many times over the years of their childhood. My mother-in-law was a north-country woman with little patience for imagination and nighttime fears. She was kind and a good grandmother whose baking was a triumph, but her mind was closed to certain things. My boys loved to stay and always looked forwards to the Christmas celebrations.
When the inevitable happened and my wife and I had to depose of their estate we tried to give each son something to remember them by. We eventually arrived at the disposal of the two pictures. I asked if any of them would like one of these childhood memories. The all shuddered and declined.
When I asked why, they looked at each other and replied that the pictures were strange.
“The boy moves, when you are not looking at him,” said my youngest son who is in his early thirties.
“His arms move and he points at you,” my eldest stated flatly.
“The girl’s head turns and she stares at you,” said my middle son who is father to two girls.
I turned to my wife and looked her in the eyes and I asked her, “Did this happen to you when you were a little girl?”
She smiled and nodded, “Yes, all the years I lived there. Some times they would whisper to each other. I never could quite make out just what they were saying. I would hide under the bedclothes and close my eyes tightly.”
“Did you not tell your mother?” I asked.
“You know what she was like. No, even when I grew up we could never talk about such things. She had a closed mind.”
I wrapped the two pictures in newspaper and put them away in a drawer and that is where they still lie to this day.
This is a true story!