The boy who lived in number eight Ott Street was a peculiar child with a malfunctioning imagination and no creativity to boot, so it stands to reason that he alone could not come up with such a tale as this one.
It was an early spring day, the light was sharp and the air was clean, the first notions of spring were sprouting from the ground, singing from the trees and moods were changing all throughout O’Connellsville, the town in which Ott Street was nestled. In that neighborhood and on that street stood a house as simple as can be.
The little brick house with four square windows and a well enough manicured lawn sat facing the schoolhouse. All-day long the peculiar child would watch the school children play from his attic window. Never once did he leave his home, never once did wave to the school children, never once did he experience daydreams of whimsy or eventful nights of fancy. The peculiar boy was content with his docile existence, never tempted to roam Neverland or explore worlds unknown.
It’s a shame really because children are like little Gods in their limited knowledge they hold the power of creation. Our poor, lonely boy, was orphaned by parents who may have been in his house but refused to be in his life. In his stately age of eight years old, our freckled child sat on a wooden rocking chair, dangling his small feet— clad in their worn, ill-fitted wool socks— over the edge of the chair like two swings in a gentle breeze. Dust mottled the stuffy attic air, in the mild light of early spring twilight. The kids would be out of school soon and for just one moment he could feel like a normal kid. He’d walk downstairs, to the front door, with a pillowcase filled with a clock, a rolodex and other heavy, miscellaneous items for he had no books nor a bag to put them in. He’d drop his bundle by the front door pretending to have just arrived from a long day of education and social interaction only to march upstairs and return to his quiescent state.
Upon his return the attic always felt slightly different, altered in a way that was just barely noticeable but all the while ever apparent like the faint smell of an empty perfume decanter. The feeling of change was so unshakeable, the young boy was perennially perturbed by his baseless intuition.
As he scanned the room he took note of his scant belongings, the teddy bear he was gifted after his bout with tuberculosis was still hibernating in the corner, his singular book, an Oxford English Dictionary, was resting on the windowsill, his washbasin was still deprived of clean linen, and his three garments lay folded on top of the uneven shelf. All was where it should be, except for the painting.
“The man in the painting is gone.” The boy exclaimed upon noticing the disappearance of the jovial old man with the warm crooked smile.
“I’m not gone, I’ve just moved into a larger, more accommodating, frame,” The old man said from his new, glassless frame.
The boy nearly aged a lifetime upon hearing a second voice in his room for the first time in nearly as many years as the war lasted.
“Did I frighten you? You have my sincerest and humblest apologies Mister____?”
“Who are you?”
“Come closer so I can better hear you.”
The peculiar boy took small, careful, steps towards the painting.
“It is rude to leave a question unanswered.”
“Well, Elliot I’m Sir Bartholomew Odysseus Windsor; but, you may call me Bart. What is your last name Elliot?”
“Please, call me Bart, I insist Mister Newman.”
“I’ve never been a Mistuh before.”
“A mister, sir, place the tip of your tongue against the back of your teeth to get the sharp r sound you desire.”
“What are you doing? Mocking the way I speak from a painting. How can you talk anyways?”
“I can do a lot of other things too, like this,” Bart said as he jumped from one painting to the next, with only a slowly fading smear of gold to show his movement.
“I can travel to any painting, anywhere in the world.”
“Then why are you here?”
“Because I want to help you, Elliot. Every child deserves to grow up thinking the world is a good and kind place.”
“But it isn’t.”
“No, it isn’t always but that doesn’t mean it isn’t ever. Come with me and see the world as every child should and as every adult should remember it to be.”
“How do I know you won’t hurt me?”
“I might be able to move from one painting to another but I can never escape the encumbrance of canvas nor the oppression of oil. What harm could I bring to you?”
Elliot, with his whiskey drinkers hair, was unsure if he was at the precipice of a great adventure or if he was already beginning his descent into madness at only eight years old. Start writing here…
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