The Portrait



The Portrait

I don’t like watches. They are made of metal, and their arrows look like swords in the hands of the executioner. With every tick of them, we lose some part of life. Why do we need watches? Is it really so important to us to have something metallic-cold that remind us that everything has already passed and we can’t get it back?

I’ve lost the habit of looking at timepieces as long as twenty or even twenty five years ago. If you don’t understand yet, I’m a tramp. A man without a home, without a family and without a past. The life of a tramp is difficult and unpredictable. You never know what you’ll get. Tramps don’t make any acquaintance. They don’t stay anywhere for a long time. But among the things that happened to me, there was something I wanted to remember for as long as my heart beats.

It happened to me when I stayed for longer than usual in a small town near the coast of the ocean. The town was quiet and calm. The nature around the town was so fascinating that it was a great pleasure for me to sleep out in the forest. But, as life teaches us, all good things must come to an end.

One day, hard rain began to fall. It was pouring so heavily that I couldn’t see anything further than three feet in front of me. Somehow I came to a small village. I saw that one of the houses looked abandoned. At least, the fence was rusted, and the porch was broken down.

Then I found that the door of the house wasn’t locked, so I boldly stepped inside. After passing through the corridor, I came into the living room. And there I saw a lady with a hand fan who stood by the fireplace. She was in a silk dress. Her cold gaze was fixed on me. And I felt ashamed of myself and my clothes for the first time in my life.

I’m sure, you will think it’s okay for a man, who met a beautiful lady, to care about his dress and appearance. Yes, it’s okay. But my beautiful lady wasn’t a real woman. She was a painting. I took a look around the house and realized that it was abandoned for a long time. I came back to the living room and lay down near the fireplace, where my lady posed for her portrait.

The next morning, for the first time in my memory, I woke up with a smile. The beautiful lady was looking at me. She gave me a refuge, and that night I had a wonderful dream in which I saw myself as a different person. I danced with her at the ball. I was happy.

When I left her house, I was loafing around all day, still thinking about that dream. I wasn’t the same as before. I felt myself burdened with concerns and duties, but I was happy. I remembered that in my dream I held her hand, and she looked at me with tenderness, like no other woman in my life. I waltzed with her, although I can’t dance. I wanted to learn how to waltz properly just in order to dance with her in my dreams. These thoughts gave me no rest, and in the late evening I returned to her house.

I entered there, perceiving myself as a man who never was a tramp. My lady greeted me without words. She was in a silk dress and held a fan in her hand, as before. I sat down in front of her portrait and took out a candle and a flask of cider. I know you will laugh, but for me it was really like a romantic date. I understood how crazy it was, but this understanding didn’t worry me. My beautiful lady has given me a gift of a new me, the man that I wanted to be for her. After finishing my flask of cider, I lay down near the fireplace and went to sleep.

In the morning I left her house. All day I was picking flowers for her, choosing only the best of them. After gathering a bouquet, I went to her house earlier than yesterday. I rushed to her, to the lady who made me a happy man.

On approaching her house, I saw some lorries and a bulldozer. Men in hard hats came out of her house. One of them gave a hand signal, and the bulldozer moved straight to her porch. I vaguely remember what was then going on, except that I ran to the ruins of the house and tried to find the portrait of my lady. The workmen caught me just at the moment when I grabbed the edge of her portrait. They pulled me back. I had no strength to resist them. So I’ve not been able to hold in my hands the only thing that would remind me of my beautiful lady.

I’ve come to myself only when I was on the coast of the ocean. I don’t remember how I got there. I don’t even remember how the ocean’s waves wrested out of my hands the bouquet of the best flowers I picked for her.

About the author:

Oksana Cherednichenko is an aspiring writer. She was born July 9, 1990.

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