The Final Masterpiece of Anabel Paige

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Anabel Paige is a photographer in a constant struggle with society. She'll never understand why they call her insane...

Submitted: May 14, 2012

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Submitted: May 14, 2012



I sat in the corner of my darkroom, curled up into a defensive position in an intense perusal my work, searching for mistakes, reasons people didn't appreciate it like I did. Reasons they called me insane.

Once, someone did take pride in my talent, such pride that it may have surpassed my own. He not only recognized the beauty of my photographs, but the beauty of my soul. We were in love.

His name was Everett.

All it took were those seven letters, crossing my mind in that exact pattern, and my eyes were drawn to my display of dynamic color photographs from when I first fell in love with Everett, decades ago. From this distance, and in the lack of light, I could see flashes of green, orange, and blue, but could hardly make out the figures of Everett and myself, fingers intertwined as we stood in my garden where flowers used to grow. A close-up of Everett's face caught my attention. His eyes were such a vibrant blue, his smile so wide. How very alive he looked in that photo. Everett once was so alive, but not anymore.

I followed the timeline of photographs up until the point where Everett's smile was lost forever, his skin had started to lose its color, and his body became more motionless than could be depicted in a photograph. Dead as a doorknob, he was, but still flawless. That is, except for the bruise on the side of his head, just barely visible behind his hair. Cleaning off the blood that had come from his mouth had been simple enough, but not much could be done about that bruise. If only I had aimed the bat just a bit more toward the back of his head...

An agonizing headache raped my brain like an electric shock. Memories of Everett's last moments came flooding back.

"We can get through this, Everett, I promise," I pleaded, tears starting to cloud my vision. "We've never let anything get in our way before. Why should this be any different?"

"You can't have my child," he insisted. "Anything else you want, I swear it's yours. I'll give you the world, Anabel, but I can't let you have the baby."

"But I love it already," I admitted, tenderly holding my belly as I gazed down to admire it. "It's only been growing inside me for six weeks, and I already love it." I looked back at Everett, desperation in my expression. "Why? Why won't you let me keep my baby?"

"You can't bring someone into the world only to suffer," Everett said. "Don't you ever think about anyone but yourself? What will you do when it has an extra arm, or only one eye, or—"

"It doesn't matter!" I raised my voice in hopes my point would get through to him. "No matter what, I'll love our child. I already love our child." Again, I reached up to caress my bulging womb, but was startled by the loud pound of Everett's fist against the wall behind him.

"We're cousins!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. "It isn't right!"

"But I love you," I said, my voice breaking. "I love you, Everett, and I love my baby, and I'm keeping it."

"Then I have to run away. I have to run far away from here and never look back."

"No!" I implored him. "No, please!" But he didn't hear me anymore.

He pushed past me to get his coat from the coat rack, and all in one swift motion, I grabbed a baseball bat and swung it full force at his head.

Everett's skull made a sickening crack, and his body fell to the floor. I had only meant to knock him out, to keep him with me for a while longer, and maybe we could straighten things out later. But when I felt for his pulse, there was no response.

I opened my eyes again. As my gaze passed over the arrangement of photographs, I watched my belly swell until my son finally came out of it. He was beautiful, down to the very last detail. He was the most perfect child a mother could ask for. I had called him Everett.

In the photographs, I watched Everett grow. He was the spitting image of his father, aside from his mouth, which was permanently curled into a frown. Everett had done little but cry, and I had tried as hard as I could, but I never managed to please him. What was so wrong with me that my own son didn't love me?

For years, I lived in misery with my thankless son, until one evening, Everett disappeared into the forest, and I never saw him again. The last photograph taken of him was only a few days prior to his disappearance. He had been sitting alone beneath the shade of an oak tree, concentrating so hard on his thoughts that he hadn't noticed me taking pictures a dozen feet away. Everett had always fascinated me. He came from my womb, and I adored him, but had I missed him? Perhaps at first. But he despised me. I eventually decided that it was easier to be alone.

From that point forward, my life had completely lost its luster, and my photographs had completely lost their color. Less than thirty photos comprised this part of my collection—bland, monochromatic landscapes that captured my sorrow.

As I reached the last photograph in the line, one I had taken last spring of a four-leaf clover surrounded by millions of others with one less leaf, it became evident that the world was not equipped to understand my genius, just as I was not equipped to understand the world.

I stood suddenly and made my way to my attic. It took several minutes, perhaps even hours, to prepare for my photo shoot. I had one last piece to add to my collection.

I scrawled a quick note on a piece of scrap paper.

For whoever finds this camera:

I have created my greatest masterpiece, but I cannot bring it to life. Please make your contribution by developing this film in my darkroom downstairs.

God bless,
Anabel Paige

I climbed to the top of my stepladder and set the paper down on a shelf, then carefully positioned my camera on top of the paper so that, when I peered through the lens, the view was exactly as I wanted it. Flawless, I thought. The finished product would be breathtaking; there was no question in my mind.

I set the camera to thirty-second timer, and hurried to set up my shot. I didn't have much time.

I climbed the stool in the center of the nearly empty room, feeling the warmth of the rising sun through the window behind me as I fastened the rope around my neck. I swayed left and right on the stool until it slipped out from under my toes and crashed to the wooden floor below me. I dangled helplessly as my airways were being closed off.


I took my last gasping breath.

My final piece was complete.

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