First Draft; please ignore mistakes.
The Painting of Cynthia Greene
My Dearest Brother,
It is with a sad heart that news of the sudden passing of Cynthia arrived to me by telegram this week. I know you loved her very much and nothing I can say can truly console the pain which you must be experiencing this day. I am praying for you, dear Brother, and am planning to come see you soon; however, I am afraid I will not be able to make it to you for a couple of months. I apologize I can not be with you sooner, but as you know, Charles has been ill for the past few months and the doctor says he needs to be attended too all hours of the day. I have already made arrangements for a carriage to be prepared for immediate departure if, by the grace of God, he should make a miraculous recovery. As for now, I advise you keep company with the people you hold dear. In times of loss, it is easy to sink into the shadows of loneliness, I pray you keep light in your life. Remember your beautiful wife and rest assured she is now in Heaven. Please write back as soon as you receive this letter. I am worried for you and want to know how you are coping. Until I receive word from you again, I pray you good health, and God’s love.
Yours, with sympathy and all blessings,
Joseph Greene’s Journal
13 October.- We bury Cynthia tomorrow evening. Jeremiah has graciously offered to prepare the burial site. He, I believe, is saddened as much as I from Cynthia’s sudden passing. I can only imagine how close he must have been to my wife. He has been with us since a child, and has served our family most loyally over the years. Not ever knowing the blessing of bearing children, Cynthia always treated him as her own child, and since his poor mother’s passing nearly a decade ago, I believe he gravitated towards her seeking a mother figure in his life. (Of course he never let the relationship interfere with his obligations.) I confess myself jealous of their close relationship. While I know it was completely innocent, I sometimes could not help but wonder if they had something more, something Cynthia and I never had. I am foolish to allow my mind to go to such dark places and I am in great debt to Jeremiah’s service to me, and only hope now Cynthia is passed, he will not leave me to seek other employment. I always felt it was Cynthia who kept him from leaving all these years.
Last night I went into Cynthia’s painting room for the first time since the maids discovered her dead body there. As I entered the room I felt a sudden weight of grief overcome me and wept for hours on the floor. The servants already turned in for the night, so no one heard me. As I finished my outward cry for Cynthia, I began to search through her belongings in hope to find some tangible item to remind me of her; something to bring me closer to her even in death. Something I would never let go of, even if I have to let her go in life.
I felt as if mud had been wiped from my eyes as I found Cynthia’s painting resting on the easel in the middle of the room. I never really appreciated Cynthia’s paintings. She usually painted generic impressions of fruit bowls and an occasional attempt of a portrait of Jeremiah. I allowed her a room to paint in, to show support, but also to give her a place to hang her paintings, not to display them around the house for anyone to see. I always thought it would embarrass her too much if people were to see them; she was not an artist. If it would bring her back, I would hang every last painting in the dining room to show them off to any who came to visit. I decided to leave the room in its current state as a tribute to my wife. It would serve as a gallery celebrating her life through her works.
However, there stood one painting in the middle of the room; a painting much different from her other paintings. While most of her paintings lay still on their canvas, this painting seemed to come to life. I had never seen it before, but knew immediately that it depicted the south hill. She spent much of her time there, and told me many of times that she absolutely loved that particular spot of our land. As I studied the painting, I recognized her signature at the bottom left of the canvas, “Cynthia Greene Oct~10”. Cynthia finished the painting on her last day of life.
It is my belief that Cynthia lived her last moments on earth finishing her painting. Perhaps it is for that reason the painting seems so alive to me. I feel it breathes with Cynthia’s breath; as if Cynthia put the last ounce of her life into the painting. As a final tribute to my poor wife, I asked Jeremiah to retrieve the painting and hang it over the mantel in the sitting room. Tomorrow, after the funeral we shall sit around the painting and it will be center attention of the room, and all who pass through will marvel upon its life and spirit.
14 October.- Cynthia is now laying in her final resting place under the tree of the southern hill. I owe great gratitude to Father Hawkins who performed the service. He said many beautiful things about Cynthia. A few people traveled in from town to be with me. I insisted they stay tonight and we enjoyed drinks before and after dinner. I dare say I have drunk a bit too much, but it is helping ease my pain. Everyone absolutely adored Cynthia’s painting; so much to say they believed it a master piece; “Cynthia’s last beautiful mark on this world.” I am appreciative of their support and kindness.
I must sleep, it is late and I shall rise early to see my guests away.
Your letter brings comfort to me with each encouraging word. I anticipate your visit, but I fully understand that you owe a responsibility to Charles, and while you being here will help me grieve, I do not expect you to leave your husband in this difficult time.
We laid my sweet Cynthia to rest yesterday evening. It was a quiet but beautiful burial; Father Hawkins said many comforting things which have helped me in this time of mourning. People came from town to pay their respects, but as you know, town is a day’s travel away so not many could make the trip. I insisted the few who did come stay for the night and join me for dinner. It was good to have friends by my side; they helped me drown my suffering, and brought laughter to what has been such a solemn house over the past week.
Jeremiah helped me burry Cynthia. We chose a spot beneath the juniper tree on the southern hill which over looks the creek; it is a very lovely spot. The tree stands at the pinnacle of the grass covered hill, from the place you can see down into the valley divided by the creek, with forest lining either side. Cynthia spent her last days at that spot painting what she called the most beautiful scene of our entire plantation. I am comforted that she now rests in a place which brought her much happiness in her last days.
Today I have found that looking at Cynthia’s painting of the southern hill has brought calm over me that I have not felt since her passing. It is as though the painting is filled with her life; as if the painting is filled with the last breath Cynthia used to create it. It may sound strange, but it is as if she is still with me, if only through her painting.
Please do not worry about me, dear sister; while I am in deep mourning, my spirits are lifted, and I fully expect to be my normal self by the time you are able to visit. Until we see each other again, I pray you not worry about me, and may Charles fully recover from whatever has stricken him ill.
Joseph Greene’s Journal
15 October.- Today I awoke before the sunrise to see my kind friends off. Before their departure, we dined over a beautifully prepared meal. With them leaving I decided I desired to be alone for the day so I have sent Jeremiah and the maids into town to purchase supplies. With my time alone I will take in the beauty of Cynthia’s painting, but first I must respond to Dorothy’s letter. Jeremiah can carry it into town with him today.
Noon.- I have spent all morning gazing upon the wondrous painting. Its life is more relevant to me now than ever. I never imagined Cynthia’s hobby could turn into something so magnificent. The painting brings me to peace like nothing else can. Human interactions are welcome distractions, but none can console me as Cynthia’s painting. Cynthia is not apart of human interaction anymore; Cynthia interacts through her painting. I can feel her in it.
Evening.- This day has been dedicated to Cynthia’s painting. My eyes have not looked away from the canvas more than a few times. When I close my eyes the painting is branded on the inside of my eyelids. I do not see darkness but I see the tree looking over the creek. The creek runs full of life between the forest and the winds talk through the trees. I dare say I see the tree tops wave as I stare at the picture; but it is only my eyes deceiving me. I must go back to the painting.
Late.- Night fall required me to light lamps to keep the painting visible. However, I fear with the dark more deceptions arrive. As I gazed upon Cynthia’s painting I could see her grave revealing itself with in the painting! The earth became disturbed and a mound of dirt placed itself beneath the tree, in the same place we lay Cynthia yesterday. I know it is only my mind that puts the grave in the painting. I can attribute this to the facts; I am desperately tired, I have restrained from food all day and last night I did have a bit to drink. I am done with the painting for the day. A long sleep followed by a large meal in the morning will go a long way to restore my senses to normal.
16 October.- I awoke this morning refreshed and well rested. I treated myself to a rather large breakfast; quite larger than I have ever prepared myself. There is something quite gratifying about preparing your own meals; it makes the food taste better.
Sleep, then eating after a twenty-four hour fast, really lifted my spirits. I feel slightly ashamed I let my sanity slip a bit last night. I can reason it to the facts and I am still distraught from Cynthia’s passing. However, my mind is strong now.
In spite of last night’s tricks, I still find myself longing to view the painting. I have yet to enter the sitting room but I will get some final alone time with Cynthia’s painting before Jeremiah and the maids return tomorrow morning.
Noon.- Alas! Tricks! I went back to the sitting room to again take in the beauty of the painting and found it to be in the same state as I left it last. The ground is still turned as a grave has been freshly dug. The unsettled dirt mounts beneath the juniper tree as if freshly piled just days ago. Afraid to look away, I kept my eyes fastened to the painting, not wanting to give it another chance to change with out my seeing it. My mind is not right! Perhaps I long so much for Cynthia to be living through this painting, my mind is granting my desires and bringing it to life before my very eyes.
Fearing for any last grasp of sanity, I have managed to draw myself away from the sitting room. I believe this afternoon I shall take rest from the painting and pay visit to the grave itself; perhaps it will set my mind to ease, it will bring it back from this insanity.
Late.- I walked to Cynthia’s grave this evening. Coming upon the southern hill, watching the juniper tree grow larger with each step, I felt a chill overcome me. I could not distinguish the real scene from the painting. The painting never seemed so alive and the real never seemed so dead; as if the two are trading places.
I stepped up to the grave and the view had already been carved into my mind. I stood in the painting myself. I didn’t know what to say or do, talking to a pile of dirt seems ridiculous to me; I just stood there, silent. My eyes began to cloud as tears rained down my cheeks. How I miss my dear Cynthia! Her love and constant company, her undying support in all my endeavors; and I could not return a portion of the support she generously gave. I never appreciated her.
I fell to my knees and wept for the first time since standing in her painting room. Not wanting to leave the grave unappreciated, I looked around for anything to properly decorate it. I found a healthy rose bush just inside the forest down the hill. I journeyed my way down and retrieved a single long stem rose. I climbed the hill and placed it on her grave. I told Cynthia I loved her and returned to the manor.
I avoided the painting all together this evening. I didn’t feel like allowing my mind to play more cruel tricks on me. I have come to peace with Cynthia’s passing, and I felt the painting would only excite me and cause restlessness. Tonight I shall sleep and welcome Jeremiah back tomorrow; how relieving it will be to have people in the house again.
17 October.- Last night I dreamt I stood in Cynthia’s freshly dug grave. I tried to claw my way out of the deathly hole but to no avail. Moments passed as I shouted my throat sore. Finally, the sound of voices interrupted my screams. I listened for the source, the voices sounded much larger than my own, as if the people were in the grave with me but yelling into a cave, echoing every word. I then heard the voice of my very own Cynthia! Her voice shook as if she had been crying. I looked to the skies and found the source of the voices. I looked into the very sitting room Cynthia’s painting hangs. I stood within the painting and stared out into my own home! I could see all the people who attended Cynthia’s funeral standing around the room, offering their sympathy to Cynthia for the loss of Joseph! They were talking about my funeral as we had just two days ago for Cynthia’s! They took their seats around the room and looked upon the painting and commented on its beauty and asked her how long it took her to paint it. I jumped and waved my arms to gain their attention and was grateful to seemingly receive Cynthia’s attention. She stared at me thoughtfully for a moment and stood up and moved closer.
“Well I am not completely finished with it. I feel as if it is missing something now.”
She bent out of sight for a moment and returned. She looked straight into my eyes, gave me a knowing smile and dropped a paintbrush across me. The grave filled with dirt and all was dark.
I woke up shaking and have yet to leave the safety of my own room. I believe I shall stay here until Jeremiah returns later this morning. It will be nice to have company again.
Evening.- Jeremiah arrived an hour ago. I greeted him, and the maids, so enthusiastically I fear I may have caused them discomfort. I am a very reserved person, and never show my emotions for anything; I’m sure my actions caught them off guard. Jeremiah graciously greeted my open armed welcome and tried not to act as if it were strange, but I could tell he felt uneasy because he commented on my looking ill.
As a token of my appreciation for all of their help and support over the past few days, I prepared dinner for everyone. Part of me just wanted the company, to have insurance of my sanity. As we ate, I felt no one was completely comfortable; they didn’t seem to want to eat. Perhaps they were not comfortable giving that we never dine together. I acted as if I did not notice their rudeness and forced conversations, and when Jeremiah asked about the painting, I talked over him and changed the subject. I think he realized my uneasiness and inquired on my health. I told him I had not been feeling well the past few days and he insisted I needed rest; citing these past few days as stressful with Cynthia’s passing and then spending the past few days alone, with out help. I obliged and retreated to my room.
I feel tonight after supper, I shall have Jeremiah help me remove Cynthia’s painting from the sitting room and relocate it back to the easel in the painting room. I just can not allow myself to be overcome with the painting any longer; I have to keep my sanity with every one back in the manor. I can not allow them to see me in such an unstable state of mind. Tonight shall be the last night I lay eyes upon Cynthia’s horrid painting.
I am writing out of concern for Master Greene. It is my belief that he is ill and his mind is not well; undoubtedly from the passing of Mrs. Greene. I can only share my experiences with you which lead to my assumptions.
After we saw off the people from the funeral, Master Greene sent me and all of the servants into town to purchase supplies. I know this is a reasonable request however, it only takes two of us to retrieve any supplies needed, and with winter upon us, there is no need for more supplies than what we already have. I decided not to question Mr. Greene; I understood he probably wanted to be alone for a few days. So we left and returned yesterday. I beg your pardon but Master Greene looked terribly ill! His face looked incredibly pail as if he had been sick for months. His eyes were void of life and lines underlined his face like he had not been sleeping, or sleeping well, since we left him. Most alarming of all, he wore the same clothes he did from the day we left. They looked as if he had been crawling in dirt and small cuts covered his hands but were barely visible through the filth. The others asked me to speak to him, but I thought it better to have him eat and then have him rest; surely the lack of sleep caused his current state.
Soon after we arrived I began to escort the cook to the kitchen, however, Master Greene announced he had already prepared dinner and invited us all to the dining room to join him. Not to speak ill of Master Greene, but he never spoke too many of the servants he has never dined with any of them; myself included. He is a very secluded man who likes to eat alone. This gesture, while generous, proved to me of his mental state. I thought perhaps he had been lonely while we were gone and desired company. However, we retreated to the dining room and foul stench of rot filled my nostrils. We found the dinner he prepared molded and spoiled; flies and dust covered everything. Apparently he saved the left over food the cook prepared for the guests the day we left. He ate the food as if it were freshly made, but none of the servants, including myself, dared eat for fear of sickness; I do not think he noticed.
During dinner, he constantly spoke erratically about beginning planting next week, about plans for travel to see you, he spoke ill of Mr. Laine for faking ill so you could not come to Madam Greene’s funeral. The entire time, he kept glancing over his shoulder, looking into the sitting room. He seemed as if he were watching for something to come up behind him out of the room. I tried to ask him if he would like to excuse himself and join me in looking at the painting; but he just yelled at me. I insisted he needed rest and he obliged.
Later for supper, I offered to bring his meal to him so he could stay in bed. He refused saying he would once again eat with the servants. During dinner, he insisted on the servants dining with him again. This time he only sat in silence, again looking over his shoulder into the sitting room every few minutes. When I asked him if he were looking for something, he abruptly stood up and stormed into the sitting room.
I watched him as he gazed upon Madam Greene’s painting and he fell to his knees. I leaped up to assist him and before I could reach him he turned to me. He had a look of hatred in his eyes and he began to talk under his breath, more to himself, but still addressed to me with his face buried in his hands. I will try to remember our conversation as best I can:
“How could you, Jeremiah? After all I have done for you, how could you do this to me?”
“I apologize sir, but I do not understand.”
“Have I wronged you? Have I been unfair to you? And for you to do this to me as I am grieving my dead wife! Is this a hoax?”
I could only question his accusations, “Sir, I am still not confident in your meaning, if I have wronged you in any way, please explain to me so I might make amends.”
His face arose from his hands to gesture towards the painting. I looked at the painting for the first time since we placed it in the sitting room. The painting was different from what I remember of it; someone added to it. Below the juniper tree of the south hill, a new grave had been painted in the same spot as Madam Greene had been buried; on the grave rested a newly picked rose. The grave seemed to have been painted on previously for it had time to dry. However, the rose looked wet as if it was added only moments before; on the table besides the painting sat a paint brush next to paints. I can only imagine Master Greene changed the painting himself.
“Sir, I am afraid I still do not understand.”
“You are playing a hoax on me, Jeremiah. You painted the grave; you added the flower while I slept up stairs.”
“Sir, I nev…”
“Why are you doing this to me? Is it to remind me that my poor Cynthia is dead?”
“Is it your way of telling me I was a terrible husband?”
“Sir, I do not…”
“Do you blame me for her death?”
“Of course I…”
“Of course you do! You were always jealous weren’t you? You loved Cynthia, you were close with her, it drove you crazy that she only loved me, didn’t it?”
“Sir, I did love Madam Greene but I assure you…”
“I gave you a home and this is how you repay me. When your whore of a mother died I should have put you on the streets. I knew you were nothing but trouble. Cynthia insisted you live with us, and the way she treated you; focusing so much attention on you. Why hadn’t I seen it before? You were having an affair with her! In my own home! How could you! How did it happen, Jeremiah? Did you fill her head with ideas? Did you tell her I was not a good husband, that you could be a better husband?”
“Sir, I promise you…”
“Oh shut up! I imagine you adored her paintings. Did you call it art? Hah! Art? Did you tell her lies of her amazing gifts? Did you tell her she was an artist? I could barely bring myself to look at her paintings. They were child’s play, ghastly, void of anything resembling art.”
He paused for a moment, a revelation came to him.
“That’s why you did it isn’t it. You knew my distaste for her paintings, and when you learned I adored one of them, you couldn’t stand the thought of me actually appreciating her work; could you? You loved the idea of being the only one who cherished Cynthia’s paintings, and she loved you for it. So you had to ruin the one painting I truly loved. You could not let me have the last thing of Cynthia’s I had to hold on to. So you ruined it, and as an act of vengeance you chose to make me believe myself insane.”
Madam Laine, I assure you I never did any of the things Master Greene accused me of. I did love Madam Greene but only as a son would a mother. I tried to reason with him but he would not hear it. He banned me from the plantation, along with the rest of the servants. We came into town late this evening and now I write to you with my concerns. I would go back to but I fear for my life if I were to show my face there.
I do not believe Master Greene is of right mind. I do not believe he really thinks those horrid things of me. I am still very fond of Master Greene and only wish for him to recover. Obviously he has been tormented these past few days, he must feel alone. I think he needs someone he can trust to see him through this time and that person can not be me. I believe you may be the only one he would see and trust. I understand your husband is ill, but I would not write if I did not think it absolutely necessary for you to come immediately.
I pray you safe travel.
Joseph Greene’s Journal
19 October.- Yesterday evening, Jeremiah game me no choice but to ban him from the plantation. As an employer I have to be able to trust my servants, I no longer can trust Jeremiah. He has proven himself dishonest and untrustworthy. He has the audacity to disrespect my household and tell me I am ill; I will not hear it! All of the servants admire and answer to Jeremiah so they had to leave as well. They trust Jeremiah therefore I can not trust them. I am better alone, I shall higher new help late this winter, but I can help myself until then.
I do not know why it took me so long to figure it out. The only possible answer is Jeremiah. My suspicions never seemed so relevant. I always knew Jeremiah and Cynthia were keeping secrets from me; and this past week has confirmed that. My only question is how Jeremiah changed the painting while I was alone in the house. He must have stayed behind; he waited till I left the painting alone and changed it while I was away. Then he followed me to the grave! That’s how he knew to paint a rose onto the grave. It is the only logical explanation.
It is all behind me now and I have nothing to worry about; my mind is right again. I am still shaken from what has transpired and I have decided to leave the painting in the sitting room. However, I will avoid the sitting room all together, for it only reminds me of Jeremiah’s betrayal.
Telegram, Dorothy Laine, to Jeremiah Haggard
24 October.- I am leaving this morning. I shall arrive by weeks end.
Telegram, Dorothy Laine, to Joseph Greene
24 October.- I am coming to visit you. I will arrive by weeks end.
Joseph Greene’s Journal
26 October.- It has been a week since my falling out with Jeremiah and the servants. While I am confident in my decisions to let them go, I am finding myself very lonely. I have not eaten anything since they left, still, I do not feel hungry. Perhaps my mental state will change when Dorothy comes to visit me. I received a telegram via post carrier yesterday afternoon. Her company will do me well.
I have avoided the sitting room since I saw the rose lying on the grave; however, I have felt a force pulling me towards the room. Something is drawing me to look at the painting once more, but I am afraid of what I will see. I spend the days in my study upstairs. The room faces the south and from the window I can see the juniper tree at the top of the southern hill. I can not bear to look so I have turned down the curtains to shield me from that horrible scene; to avoid the memories of Cynthia’s grotesque painting. I shall not leave the safety of this room.
Telegram, Dorothy Laine, to Charles Laine
29 October.- I have arrived; will write with news.
Joseph Greene’s Journal
30 October.- Jeremiah must still be in the house! I have searched for him every where, but he is avoiding me. This morning I left the confines of my study for the first time since I banned the servants from the manor. I could hear someone calling me. I followed the voice and it grew louder as I neared the sitting room! Nothing had changed from the last night a sat foot in there. I looked at the painting and was horrified to find the rose, previously living with color, now laid withered and dead, with dry paints of brown and gray.
I do not feel safe in the sitting room, but I do not feel I can leave the painting out of my sight for another moment. Jeremiah could easily return and alter the painting once more if I leave it alone. I have brought the painting with me up to my study; and I shall stay locked in this room until Dorothy arrives; hopefully soon.
Midday.- The painting is changing before my eyes! Cynthia’s grave is alive; the dirt is not still. A hand emerges! Cynthia’s corpse is pulling herself out of the grave! Cynthia’s decaying body stands in the painting; her face pale, covered in dirt and smeared makeup partially covered by her disheveled black hair. Her once white burial dress is now stained by the dirt, frayed and covered in worms and maggots, which have eaten holes throughout the cloth. Some of the flesh of her hands has rotten to the bone making her fingers like that of a skeleton’s!
She stands there; she looks confused. She looks around, becoming aware of her surroundings. She looks down at her hands and begins to tremble. She looks up and her mouth opens revealing yellow teeth. The flesh of her mouth is dried and cracked from her lips to her tongue; torn deeply in places so it looks as if she has two lower lips. She appears to be letting out a scream but is inaudible through the picture. However, I feel as if I can hear it faintly off in the distance.
She is now walking down the southern hill very slowly. She looks like she is remembering how to walk again. Slowly and carefully, she navigates each movement and becomes more confident with each step. She has walked out of the picture. She is walking towards the house! My mind is lost, or Cynthia is coming to claim me for the dead! One look out the window will reveal which of my nightmares is reality. I can not bring myself to look.
This will probably be my last entry. I fear I haven’t much time left. I will stay locked in this room and let Cynthia’s corpse, or insanity, take me; whichever wants me most.
I know now Jeremiah has had nothing to do with the painting’s changes; if anyone should happen upon this, please confess to Jeremiah my deepest apologies for all I have said and done to him.
Someone is entering the house…
Dorothy Laine’s Journal
31 October.- I arrived to Joseph’s plantation yesterday evening. Fearing for my physical safety I persuaded Jeremiah to travel with me. I assured him Joseph would not dare touch him if I were there, and if Joseph was not in a healthy state of mind, I might need protection myself.
We arrived to the manor and as we entered we were greeted with the foul stench of decay. Upon further investigation we found the kitchen and dining room filled with rotting foods, covered in maggots and flies. We persevered through the house when I came upon the sitting room where Jeremiah explained to me of his incident with Joseph, and where he displayed the painting, which Joseph thought Jeremiah changed. Joseph and the painting were no where to be found in the sitting room, or anywhere on the entry level of the manor. Jeremiah told me that nothing had been disturbed from when he left over a week ago.
We began our search upstairs only to find nothing disturbed from what Jeremiah remembered. We searched the bed rooms and the library but again, nothing to discover, nothing unusual. Finally, we came to Joseph’s study. The doors were locked and when we knocked and called for Joseph, we heard no response. We decided we had to force in the doors to see if Joseph was hurt. We found another empty room; however, we did manage to find the painting that caused Joseph so much distress. I looked at the painting and Jeremiah explained to me the original painting, and then what Joseph accused Jeremiah of adding to the painting. Jeremiah also noted that the painting had once again changed. He told me the original painting was the scene of their land on the south hill. A juniper tree stood atop the hill and overlooked a forest divided be a creek; then what Jeremiah supposedly added; a grave where they buried Cynthia along with a wilted rose. The new addition to the painting, which Jeremiah had not seen yet, an additional grave, freshly painted next to Cynthia’s.
Something unsettled me about the painting. I felt as if it were alive. I felt an urge to lash out at the painting. Next to the painting, on Joseph’s desk, sat a brush and newly mixed paints. It is my conclusion that Joseph altered the painting himself. Perhaps since it was Cynthia’s dying piece, the only way he could keep her living, is by keeping her painting living.
We searched the rest of the manor, but Joseph was no where to be found. I can not imagine where Joseph would have gone. I told Jeremiah I wanted to leave, but first I wished to pay respects to Cynthia’s grave.
He walked me to the grave and as we came upon the south hill, I could see the juniper tree and could only think of the painting. I felt a chill rise up my neck and feared what we may stumble upon.
We cam upon the grave site and I felt as if I stood in the painting itself. I could see the tree, the forest split by the creek, but most frightening of all, I stood at the foot of Cynthia’s grave where a wilted rose lay upon the settled dirt…and a second grave next to Cynthia’s! The new grave did not seem as deep and the soil was still loose, so Jeremiah began digging with his hands. It took a few moments but Jeremiah startled and fell back. He looked at me with horror in his eyes and I walked up to the hole Jeremiah dug in the ground.
He’s dead! My poor brother is dead! I could only stare into his vacant eyes as they looked deep into mine; dirt filled his open mouth. His pale skin still looked as if it were full of life, like he only died moments before. He must have been murdered; there is no other explanation, he could not have buried himself. I could not stand there any longer and walked back to the manor with Jeremiah.
Jeremiah suggested we travel into town to report Joseph’s death. I obliged but told him I wanted to destroy the painting that caused Joseph so much distress in his dying days. We returned to the manor, and we went back to the study. Jeremiah looked around the room for a moment and found Joseph’s journal. He handed it too me; perhaps it will serve as a window into Joseph’s dying thoughts. As I flipped through the pages I noticed his last entry; 30 October.
I began to read through but stopped as I heard another scream from Jeremiah. He stood frozen in fear staring towards the painting. I looked to the painting and terror left screaming from my lips.
The painting changed again! Jeremiah knelt over Joseph’s grave, his hands buried in the soil. I could see Joseph’s face outlining the thin layer of dirt, and I stood, in fresh paint, waiting anxiously for the body to be revealed.
Jeremiah quickly searched the house for any one who could have changed the painting; but there was no one in the house. I could only stare at the painting. When Jeremiah returned, I told him I wished to destroy the painting. Jeremiah placed the painting up right in the fire place; he poured a half empty bottle of wine left on Joseph’s desk, onto the canvas. I picked up and lit a match and tossed the flamed stick into the fire place. Flames grew from the painting, melting the fresh paint and burning the canvas alive. We stood there and watched, as the fire engulfed the hideous painting of Cynthia Greene.