image from google
Mist hung heavy in the late fall afternoon as Abby stepped out of the taxi and onto the cobblestone street. Bushes sat behind a long wrought iron fence lining the perfectly manicured lawn that surrounded the three story turn of the 20th century mansion. The gate stood ajar so Abby helped herself up the walk dragging her wheeled suitcase behind her.
The wrap around porch squeaked as Abby’s foot landed just in front of a big blue door and placed her fingers around the big brass door knocker and rapped gently. In echo of the porch the also door squeaked as it opened. This place could use some oil Abby thought as a small man’s face appeared just inside the foyer. Darkness hid the rest of the man but Abby could size him up from his tiny head.
“I’m here to see Mr. Stanford.”
“Yes, you must be Abby McIntyre. Please enter.” he said with the wave of a hand.
Abby stepped in through the door and into the grand foyer her eyes drawn to a beautiful shining mahogany staircase that ran winded up three floors. Abby heard a door open and close and a strange clacking sound.
Soon another slight gray haired man met her gaze from the top of the stairs. His step slow with the aid of a walker.
“Good evening Ms. McIntyre,” he said as he finally reached the bottom of the stairs with his walker clacking the entire way. Abby watched as he passed Renoir’s and Picasso’s and Van Gough’s and Rembrandt’s.
“Good evening Mr. Stanford, it’s good to see you again.”
They leaned in and Abby could feel his brittle bones behind his wrinkled skin. Flesh around his frail tired eyes seemed to droop more by the second.
“I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get around.”
“I understand, its okay, you are just in time I believe.”
“Can I see it?”
“Absolutely,” he said taking her hand. “It is why I called you.”
They strolled hand in hand down a long hallway to another wing of the large home. “You know you remind me of someone I knew years ago Ms. McIntyre.”
“I guess I just have one of those faces.”
“I believe it is more than that, Ms. McIntyre.”
“It is beautiful.”
Her eyes lay upon the most beautiful painting she had ever seen. The fourteen by fourteen canvas was small by most standards and it wasn’t by a famous painter. As a matter of fact it was the only known painting that the person ever completed, a self portrait of him and his lover, a dark haired woman who lay on his chest, her face hidden by his hands on either cheek. He gazed down, appearing to gaze into her eyes. However the mans face and begun to crack and peel with age and it was Abby’s job to restore the beautiful painting to its original grandeur.
“It is a shame someone of this talent only did the one painting, isn’t it?”
Stanford pointed to tarp covering a painting that sat on an easel. “When you finish you restoring the painting, I’ll show you that this isn’t the only painting he completed, and I’ll show what the woman on his chest looks like. But it is a surprise, Ms. McIntyre.”
She turned and opened her case and opened it up revealing an aray of paints and scalpels and brushes.
“Ms. McIntyre, I will leave you to your work. If you need anything the butler will get you whatever you need.”
“I think I have everything I need in my case.”
“Your room is just down the hall. I will not see you until you are complete. It was nice make your acquittance.”
“As yours, Mr. Stanford.”
After three weeks of work and when the face reappeared Abby saw the most beautiful man she had ever laid eyes on. There was a rapping on the door behind her.
“May I enter?”
She recognized the voice of her employer. “It is your house.”
A warm strong hand fell upon her shoulder. Abby’s blood ran cold as she turned and saw a young man before her.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “you must be Mr. Stanford’s son.”
“Ms. McIntyre, may I call you Abby?”
“Sure, I guess.” she stood as still as a statue.
“May I show you the painting Abby?”
As the man removed the tarp her heart skipped, leaped from her chest like a frog. The face she stared at sat staring back at her and it looked as though she were looking into a mirror. And the man that stood beside her looked like a spitting image of the restored painting.
“Yes Abby, thank you by the way. You saved my life.”
“I honestly don’t know, I just know that as my painting ages I do as well, and I also know that restoring it restores my youth. I know that yours never ages but you will. My curse is I must watch you age and die, but my gift is that I get to spend a lifetime with you before that.”
Abby sat quite, staring into the deep blue eyes of the dark haired stranger that she had fallen in love with over the last three weeks.
“Abby, would you like a cup of coffee?”
“Yes.” she said it without even thinking, like the answer just came out with no control over her mind.
Evening fog sat on the cobblestone street as they as she walked arm in arm with the new love of her life. And she knew he walked arm in arm with the love of his many lifetimes.