Hands warped and bent by time trembled around the shaft of a bamboo paint brush. Arthritic knuckles, swollen and red gripped with a gentle grasp as careful strokes were lovingly placed upon the paper. The shadowy image of a face appeared. With each careful stroke the picture was revealed.

A spasm broke the flow of the paint and splattered about the floor. “Oh fiddlesticks, not again. I am so sorry. I’m trying as best as I can. These hands just don’t work like they should.” The frustrated artist stared at her paint splattered cardigan.

“How long has she been like this, who is she talking too?” The doctor asked in a hushed tone. Looking through the door of the den in at his patient, he watched as she tried to put new paper up on the easel. She dropped both her brush and the paper. She sat in a chair, shoulders slumped.

“Ever since she came home from the hospital. There is no one with her, she just talks to herself” The son replied. He could hear the frustration and pain in his mother’s voice. “Timothy, could you bring me another piece of paper please?”

 Pushing past the doctor he hurried to his mother’s side. “Mama, let it go. I can see this hurts your hands.”

“Gratitude must me shown Timothy, and this is what he would have wanted.” Her tone held the steel resolve of a woman who had taught children for over 40 years.

Sighing Timothy put the paper up on the easel. Bending he handed her the paint brush and left the room.

“Let’s start with the ears, shall we? Nice brown ears with a spot.” She mumbled to herself.

Timothy returned his attention to the doctor. “I did some checking. That heart you gave her. It came from a young man killed in a car accident right?”

 “That’s correct, he was an organ donor. His family thought he would have wanted to continue to help and give to the world, even after his death.” The doctor replied. “Has she ever painted before?”

“That’s what I am trying to get at doc. She doesn’t paint. She has been obsessed with this since she came home. What do you know of this donor?” Timothy lowered his voice and urged the doctor away from the den toward the back of the house.

“Nothing except that he was healthy and young. He died in an accident.” The doctor replied, he couldn’t take his eyes off the door. His dignified patient, with paint in her hair and on her sweater was an odd sight to see.

“You don’t think this painting has to do with her heart do you doc?” Timothy had been wondering this for the last week. He knew he couldn’t talk to the doctor about it unless he saw it for himself. He wanted him to confirm the possibility as much as dismiss it, so insane it was to him.

“Perhaps she feels healthier than before and this is her way of expressing it?” The doctor supplied.

 “Yes that’s it, nothing odd about that. Except she struggles with it so.” The son didn’t want his mother to hurt.

The door bell rang. They walked to the front of the house, reaching the front in time to see her open the door. “There you are my darling, more beautiful than I remembered.” A young girl of 20 stood at the front door. Confused she looked at Timothy’s mother.

“Your call said you had something that belonged to me.” She asked hesitantly. “Something from…” her lips trembling, big green eyes brimmed with tears, “from my Jessie?”

 “This way my dear.” She lead the young women down the hall. “There you are, your Pip as promised.” The young women stood with her mouth open. A portrait of a young pup lay on the easel. Timothy could hardly believe it. Jessie was the name of the young boy whose death had given his mother life. “After all, gratitude must be given where it is due. And Jessie did make you a promise did he not?”


First posted on (a writers playground).

The rules were to include the following in a flash post:

Member’s Pick, Fridays
Character Challenge: The Struggling Artist
Rules: (1) write whatever comes to mind; (2) include an animal named Pip


One thought on “Gratitude

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