The Girl and the Painting

She was, in fact, a young woman but she felt like a girl. Shelly had a fiancé, a decent job and friends. But she felt incomplete, alone, like she was missing something. Sometimes the mood came and overwhelmed her and she ran in her too-high heels to the museum.

She would then sit in front of the painting and stare. For awhile she’d disappear and she’d be okay and the terrifying rootless feeling would fade.

A few deep breaths, a couple of minutes to freshen her makeup, and Shelly was on with her day.

For days everything was fine and she’d forget she ever had those spells. Alert, high-spirited but also controlled and competent, most other women admired her. Some would be jealous of Shelly but she was too sweet to everyone for anyone to feel that kind of resentment.

No, Shelly had a wonderful life and she was universally loved. But those episodes. And that painting, a painting she didn’t understand, a painting that she didn’t even like, was the only tonic to relieve the pain.

An ordinary day, weeks since the last all-but-forgotten attack, it happened again. Shelly dashed to the museum, sat in the familiar seat and stared ahead at the now blank wall. The Rothko exhibit had ended and Shelly was certain she would go mad.