Image courtesy of Beanhugger on Deviant Art
“Virgin sacrifice? Seriously, who names these things. All I see is a little girl in a carriage with a horse.”
Geoffrey smiled over at his daughter in law. “This piece was created in 1914 but was named by the original owner. He said that the little girl told her the name of of the painting herself.” He winked and continued, “about a week after he purchased the painting, he artist died quite unexpectedly, but the old man who bought the painting was miraculously cured from some nasty disease and lived a long and happy life.”
“Well, I think it’s creepy to put virgin and sacrifice together in a title to describe that little angel in the painting.” She shrugged and settled back into the plush velour seat of the auction hall. This definitely wouldn’t have been her top choice for what to do on a Saturday night, but she knew Geoffrey loved the auction and her husband, Mark, hadn’t been feeling well enough lately to go with him.
They watched as a procession of less important and less exciting items came before the room of well-dressed bidders before the auction finally came to the reason most of them were there. She glanced over her shoulder to see Geoffrey’s face as the final painting was brought to the front of the room. His eyes grew wider and she heard his breathing pick up a little. “There she is,” he breathed. She gazed up at the painting of the little girl gazing at the ground while sitting quietly in the back of the carriage. Though there were other bidders, she saw that Geoffrey was determined to go home with that painting as he raised his paddle to bid again. She whispered urgently, “that bid was one hundred and forty THOUSAND dollars! How high are you planning to go?”
“As high as I need to,” Geoffrey responded. She shrugged and settled back into her seat. He was eighty-seven years old and she sure as hell wasn’t going to try to tell him what to do. She remembered when her grandmother was in her eighties the doctor told her to avoid alcohol. Gramma had a double shot of whiskey every night before bed and she lived to be ninety-eight. Plus, she figured that Geoffrey had earned the right to do whatever he wanted with his money.
After a final bid of one hundred and sixty two thousand dollars, she drove Geoffrey back to the house and helped him back into his room. She got him settled then kissed his withered cheek and apologized that she couldn’t stay longer. “You go and take care of Mark. Thank you for being my date for the evening.”
“I know that Mark wishes he could have been there with you, he’s just been feeling under the weather lately.”
“That’s quite alright. You were a pleasure as always.” Geoffrey took her face in his fingers, “I am so glad that he has you in his life. You are a Godsend.” Touched, she took his other hand and kissed it briefly.
“Thanks Dad. Sleep well and I’ll see you in the morning.”
As she walked down the brick path toward her car, she thought about her conversation this morning with Mark. She felt they should tell Geoffrey about Mark’s cancer, but he was afraid that his father’s heart wasn’t up to hearing the news. “He won’t be with us too much longer anyway. Let’s spare him the pain of this.” She smiled and put on her brave face, just like always, and shrugged. She wasn’t going to argue this point, though she thought the old man could probably handle just about anything.
Geoffrey climbed the stairs into his master bedroom and smiled as he lifted his new painting to the mounting already awaiting her on the wall. Slowly he climbed beneath the covers, leaving the light on beside the bed. He smiled over to his girl as he settled into a restful silence.
The girl stepped quietly down from her carriage and slipped onto the plush maroon carpeting without even a whisper of sound. She crept across the room to stand over the old man and they shared a tender smile. “You sure?” she asked him. His response was a gentle smile and a nod. She slipped her hands from her sleeves and brought them close to his face.
They found him the next morning when they went to pick him up for church. Mark woke feeling surprisingly well so he joined his wife and was the one to find his father lying peacefully in his bed. Mark and his wife cried and held each other as they waited for the medics to tell them what they already knew. “At least he went quickly,” Mark said quietly to his wife, “and we spared him the pain of knowing about the cancer.” She held him and glanced over his shoulder at the clear gaze and sweet smile of the girl in the painting.
Three days later, at his next appointment, Mark’s doctors were astounded to find no trace left of his cancer.
Becket Moorby, October 2011