The Painting In #1806

There are two paintings in my apartment that were here when I moved in. One is a gorgeous work in mostly greens.. of an Oregon hillside covered with Douglas Fir trees. There is a pond in the center of the painting with a dozen swimming mallards. The light in the work is magnificent. It’s oil on canvas. The other painting is a fabulous copy of The Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre Auguste Renoir. The original is my favorite painting of all time. I’ve been to the Phillips collection in DC three times specifically to see it. When I looked at this apartment the first time, I asked about both paintings. I said.. doesn’t the previous resident want them back?  Why would she leave them here?  The complex manager was a little evasive, but she finally said that the paintings belong here. And I thought, well, okay then.. I’ve lived here in 1806 Hyacinth Hill for five months today. Before I moved in, I’d been on a waiting list for six months. The complex manager and I share a love of Impressionist Art. I think that’s why she rented this particular apartment to me. I love it here. Some people want their dream house in the country, but I’ve always wanted a high rise apartment with a view. Here, I’m on the eighteenth floor. Perfect.

Tonight, I’m just relaxing after a long Monday at work, with my grey tabby, Lucie. I just ate some leftover spinach quiche.. homemade. It was a big piece, I admit it.. and a glass of chardonnay. Now for dessert. I stopped at a deli I’ve been hearing about on my way home from work. I brought home a cake, lemon with buttercream frosting. Gonna have big piece. Yes. I told you it was a hard Monday, remember?

So I settle in with a big slice of yummy, another glass of wine and Lucie on my lap. And, of course, an episode of Cadfael on Netflix. After about twenty minutes of the show, I feel Lucie stiffen in my lap. I think she might be ready to pounce on an invisible ghost mouse. No.. she’s just staring at the wall. I’ve seen her do this many times. She stares in a certain direction at nothing. I never see anything where she looks. I’ve even got down on my hands and knees at kitty level, but there’s never any there there. Know what I mean?  Now she’s doing that. Then I figure out that she’s staring at the painting. The Renoir copy. Weird. She thinks something is moving. I tell her she’s looked at this painting a thousand times, and it’s always the same. Just a painting. A beautiful painting. I go back to watching Cadfael, and Lucie drifts off to sleep. Then after ten more minutes, I drift away. And I think, I really don’t want to go to work tomorrow. I need to look for another job. Not sure how long I’ve been asleep when I start awake. Then I hear faint laughing and clinking of silverware and glasses behind the wall. The sound is coming from behind the Renoir. Someone is having a party over there. I look at my mantel clock and it’s four am. I slept for five hours!  Now Lucie is staring at the painting. The only light on in the apartment is a small desk lamp on the end table next to my couch. .. Then, I swear I see movement in the painting.. and I hear more faint laughter. Nope. I drank too much wine or there was something funky in the cake. I get up to get a closer look, and Lucie follows. I touch the part of the painting that I think I saw move. The painting opens like a door. A wall safe?  No. A window. And the window looks on to a terrace. A terrace where a party is indeed taking place. The Boating Party. The Luncheon of the Boating Party!  And a man sees me. He comes over to the window, says.. hello there, Danielle and Lucie! Come join the party. That’s when I realize the window is part of a door. So.. what do I do?  Well, I step through the door and join the party, of course. And Lucie goes with me. Best party invitation ever. I’m definitely not going to work today….

By M. Raynes

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