As Nate walked through the main entrance of Hillside Museum, his eyes were drawn to the painting glowing in the morning light. “Hello, beautiful,” he said out loud. He didn’t know why he was so taken with the image, but he often stopped to gaze at the portrait of the striking young woman and wondered about her life.
Her name was Anna and according to the date at the bottom of the painting, the year was 1909. She looked to be in her early twenties with curly dark hair and violet eyes, dressed in a long cape of iridescent purple. She was wearing a beautiful pendant around her neck. Her lips were curved ever so slightly in a shy smile. In the palm of her hand she held a simple gold band, a wedding ring perhaps, holding it out as if offering it to him. He often fanaticized that she was smiling at him. Her eyes seem to follow him wherever he went in the room.
“You talking to me?” Rennie said, coming up behind him. He swung around and hesitated just a moment before answering, “Of course. Who else is here?” He silently cursed his lack of attention. He didn’t realize the Program Director was in the room.
“Just checking to see if you are finished working on the planters here,” she said. “It’s getting close to the celebration and there is still a lot of work to be done.”
“I know, I know. I‘m working on it.”
“Not fast enough, Nate. I’m worried the grounds won’t be ready in time.”
“Like I said Rennie, I’m working on it,” Nate said walking to the atrium in back of the room.
He loved working with the soil. Planting and nurturing flowers was soothing to him. He carefully positioned each plant, set them in place, and covered them with rich dirt. His mind could drift when he worked, and he thought again about the young woman.
Suddenly he felt a jolt of electricity run through his hand. He looked down and stared in confusion at the ring in his hand. It was a gold wedding band just like the ring in the painting.
He stood and walked back to stand beneath the painting. The ring was no longer in her palm, it was in his. A sense of her hopelessness washed over him. His mind was in turmoil. What was happening? Damn, he didn’t have time for this.
He looked around quickly to see if Rennie was still in the room. Alone, he put the ring in his pocket and slowly turned to leave.
Then he heard her softly crying. He felt like a coward, but he couldn’t stay in the room any longer. He wasn’t up for this much distraction right now. He walked out the door, hesitated momentarily, then closed it behind him.