This is a short story written for #BlogBattle over at https://blogbattlers.wordpress.com
The theme for this story is ‘Surfer’ This is my fiction piece.
It was the sort of house that had a fireplace upstairs and down, but the painting only hung in their bedroom. The fireplace was entirely necessary for the cold Maine winters, but the painting was even more necessary. It was an oil painting of a man in a neon orange wet-suit surfing on what appeared to be a small lake. Pine trees lined the lake, oaks poking out where they could. The colors bled into one another with giddy fascination, as if everything in the painting was rushed and intertwined. Although it didn’t keep anyone warm like the fireplace it so heartily lorded above, it did do what any great piece of art should do; lived as a reminder of love.
Five years into what she would call a very happy marriage, Lucy Young sat on the porch of her house and deliberately faced east where she could see through the trees to the ocean. Her husband Garret had left for work only a few hours earlier. He was a fisherman and restaurant owner, a hard worker who loved food and loved Maine possibly more than Lucy did.
It had been a cool morning but the day promised to be hot before the evening cooled off significantly; a reminder that it was, in fact, still Maine, and that in six months everything would be buried in snow and ice.
An unusual group of clouds hung overhead, one Lucy felt had verged a bit too far out of the realm of reality. Still, it was something that should be painted. But even though inspiration begged to be painted, Lucy could not. She was distracted and a bit mad at herself for being so spoiled. Here she had an opportunity to paint something truly beautiful and yet, she felt bored.
Lucy had spent the morning pacing her porch and nibbling on leftovers for breakfast. She felt drained and it wasn’t even noon. Nothing struck the spark in her that began the conflagration of inspiration, so she packed up her travel easel and drove from her home on the ocean towards the lake.
The lake looked as if someone had already painted it. Lucy decided long ago that Lakes in Maine were like all other pieces of natural wonder in Maine; perfect, formed of crystal and sunshine and the very essence of nature. It was this belief in her home state she felt she captured in her paintings, giving them their appeal.
The lake was calm and a slight breeze hung in the air, twisting in no particular direction. Lucy took a deep breath, convinced the air here was clearer than the sea air back home but more savoring the idea of taking a deep breath.
Movement on the lake caught her eye, far away but unusual enough that she moved along the west bank to get a closer view. It was the unnaturalness of the movement that drew her; part of her brain recognized that whatever was moving on the lake shouldn’t be moving the way it was. “That’s the way something on the ocean would go…” she mumbled to herself.
The trees got thicker as she drew closer, and Lucy decided to take advantage of this, hiding among the oak and pine grove.
The lake rippled and sloshed near her feet as she finally realized what she was looking at; a man, dressed in a neon orange wet suit, surfing on the lake.
There were no waves on the lake, it was too small to generate any kind of wave, let alone one large enough to surf on, but somehow large wave after large wave spiraled around the man as he surfed through the blue tunnels as if it were the most normal thing on earth.
As the waves crashed around the him, the man in the neon orange wet suit plunged underwater for a brief moment before surfacing again, a grin clearly outlined on his face. Lucy realized with a small shock that she knew that grin; she married that grin. A small splint of anger fractured Lucy’s chest before it gave way to a laugh. She was mad he Garret; mad that he would keep a secret like this from her, but amused that it was something so strange and absurd. How was he surfing? It was clearly Garret who moved the water to make waves; every few minutes his hand stretched as if gently pushing open a door, the water responding and forming into perfect surfing waves.
Her head spun a little as she watched Garret mount another wave. She let her mind wander as she took out a small canvas and her paints and, in about twenty minutes, she had a perfect painting of a man in a neon orange wet suit surfing on a pine lined lake.
She examined her painting and decided to head back to the car. Confront him! One part of her yelled, but she didn’t want to. He had his secret and now she had hers. She kept this thought close to her the whole drive home, letting it run through her mind, creeping and receding like high tide.
Back home, Lucy stood on the porch for a long time and made up her mind. She split the canvas in two and fed it to the fire pit on the front porch. By the time Garret arrived home, the painting was long gone; the image burned away in blues and oranges.
Lucy continued to steal away and paint her surfer muse every Wednesday for the next three months. Every time, she drove home, thinking of Garret out fishing, Garret at the restaurant, Garret surfing on man made waves, a shining grin lighting the lake, and every time, she burned her painting when she arrived home.
One Thursday evening, she left home early in the evening to have dinner with her sister in the next town over. “Tell Steff hi for me,” Garret had said as he gave her a kiss goodbye in the morning. “I’ll be fine for dinner. I’ll grill some of that Octopus we hauled up yesterday.”
Lucy drove back from dinner, the setting sun a neon orange in the dark blue of the evening sky. She pulled into the driveway and turned off the car, heading around the back to the porch instead of going in through the front door. Garret sat by the fire pit, grilled octopus in a pool of olive oil resting on a plate next to him. She gave him a kiss and stole a bite of scorched cephalopod.
“How’s your sister?” Garret asked.
“She’s good. She says hi,” Lucy responded, and headed inside. “I’m going to change into pjs,” She called over her shoulder. She bounded up the steps and turned on the light in the bedroom.
The painting hung above the fireplace.
Lucy froze. It was the same piece she had painted yesterday. But she had burned it, right? No, she hadn’t, she remembered with a drop of her stomach. Garret had come home early so she had stashed it under the porch. But why would he go under the porch? There was nothing under the porch besides…
“I found it next to the extra propane tank.” Garret said from behind her.
“You know,” Lucy said, staring at the painting.
“You know?” Garret gestured at the man in the painting. Lucy’s eyebrows furrowed.
“Why would you keep this a secret from me?” she asked. “And just how is it you can make waves?!”
Garret sighed. “It’s something I’ve always been able to do. Grandpa Kritakous always told me it was because we come from an ancient Greek family that counted Poseidon at the top of our family tree. I never told you because, um,”
“What?” Lucy demanded. “Were you scared?”
“Well, yeah. It’s not exactly normal, Luce.”
“Garret,” she said. “I love you. I’ll always love you. Even if you can move water or talk to Elves, I don’t care.”
“I’m sorry.” He paused. “I can’t talk to Elves. I don’t know any Elves.”
“I care that you lied,” Lucy said.
“I know. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Garret asked, “How long have you known?”
“Only a few months.”
“Is this the only painting?”
“I’ve… I’ve made more. I burned them.”
“Oh,” said Garret. Then, he laughed. A small laugh at first, but it turned quickly into a belly laugh. “Why?” he asked.
Lucy frowned, but couldn’t help but laugh as well. “I didn’t want you to know.”
They stared at the painting and laughed together, the summer cicadas humming outside.
Garret took her hand in his and squeezed it. “It’s a really lovely piece.”
“Thanks,” Lucy said. Then she looked at him, the ghost of tears in her eyes. “No more secrets?” she asked.
Garret pointed at the painting. “No more secrets?” he asked.
They kissed in the affirmative. The painting never left its spot above the fireplace.