This Friday’s flash prompt from Claire was to type “strange pictures” into Google, and pick one as inspiration for a flash. What this showed me is that people find many different things strange, and strange for someone might be perfectly normal for someone else, so, here’s my #FridayFlash
It always struck me, how the portrait of my great grandmother, the one that hung in the smoking room was never particularly, pleasant. I suppose that was why it was in the smoking room, rather than the great hall, with all the other portraits. That, and of course, Great Grandma Gretel was the shame of the family. She had been on the marches, argued the part of the slaves, once she threw a stone at a policeman. True story. Our family didn’t protest. We were in the fortunate position not to need to. We were well off, well respected and had no need to rebel, or incite change. Anyway, Great Grandma Ethel disappeared, shortly after the portrait was painted, leaving Great Grandpa Bill with two children, and I can only imagine greatly relieved not to have a rebel living under his roof any more.
I often retired to the smoking room, no-one really used it, and I enjoyed the quiet. I would sit and study the painting, sometimes chat to Great Grandma Ethel about my day, the things that pleased or annoyed me, what I was looking forward to, or what I was dreading. No matter where I would sit, it seemed to me that Ethel was looking at me, really paying attention to what I was saying. It was on such a day that the fire broke out. I first noticed the smoke coming under the door, and opened it to the flames. I let out a cry of panic, and was unable to shut the door again against the heat and the flames. I rushed to the window to try and leave that way, but it was rusted shut. The old house had fallen into disrepair. The smoke was burning my lungs, everything was getting darker, and then I remember no more.
I awoke to see firemen staring at me, as though I was on a platform, above them. I think I blinked, but can’t be sure. A voice from behind me said quietly,
“Do not move until they’ve gone.”
I remained still, lying out, looking at them.
“What a strange picture,” one of them was saying. “See the woman in the background, she is in very old fashioned clothing, but the one at the front, she’s modern. Very out of place.”
“The whole thing is out of place,” another said. “See the farmer in the backdrop? He’s older again, whoever painted it did not research their history. Come on, there’s no-one here, let’s go.”
When they were gone I looked up to see Great Grandma Ethel smiling down at me.
“The world I lived in was not for me,” she said quietly. “So I came here, to join my grandfather on his farm. I’ve enjoyed our talks, I hope you will be happy here.”
I blinked. I felt I probably would.