The Lost Daughter

Paint by Chris Hunkeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Creative Commons License
Paint by Chris Hunkeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The paint took forever to dry.

Words, all those words hidden beneath the paint.  She could hear them whisper in the morning when she woke up and she heard them at night before she went to sleep, traitor traitor traitor.  The words never stopped.  She put the paint over them to cover them and to silence them.  But still they whispered at her, in the kitchen, in the parlor, on the sleeping porch and under the floorboards of her bedroom.

The paint was gray and thick.  She smoothed it every morning with her fingers before applying a new coat, willing the words to stop speaking.  But they went on.  They went on.

When she was little, she could hear the thoughts of the cows in her father’s field, the songs of sheep in the little pasture behind the barn, the sayings of the geese in the yard.  She tried to tell her parents, but they ignored her.  Imagination, they called it.  She called it words.

She stayed at the farm long after she should have left.  She was an adult, she should have her own home, they told her.  But she couldn’t leave the cows, the sheep, the geese.  She couldn’t leave them and their words.

When her parents died last year she almost left.  There was a teaching job in the next county that needed someone with her skills, her English skills and her ability to tame unruly minds.  She took the job, in fact.  But on the day she was supposed to leave the new words started, traitor traitor traitor.  She could not go.

The paint would do it.  She only needed more coats of paint on the walls, on the porch, on the eaves, on the shingles.  More paint.  Every morning she would paint a new coat.  And she would wait.

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