The Painting

By Theresa Rutherford

I was staring straight into the face of this creature like thing that I had created and to me it looked like it was smiling. 


I am the creative sort and I always have been for as long as I can remember. It was my thing. My creativity crossed over many genres, from music to sketching, painting, sculpture, anything I could get my hands on. This story is about one of my creations, a painting. I’m not sure where this this story fits in the paranormal realm but it’s one that bothers me even after many years.

I was a young single with a beautiful curly haired blue-eyed baby boy and he was my life and my joy.  My peers were still sowing their wild oats, out partying and generally doing what people do when they are young. To me that was okay, I didn’t need that because I had my little boy and he was my world. 

My baby boy and I lived in a small rental house in a rough neighborhood so we pretty much kept to ourselves. I still saw some of my closest friends on occasion and of course they would try to pull me back into their world, as they didn’t think I should be spending so much time alone. I always politely declined; I was happy spending my time with my little guy. 

Once my boy was asleep that’s when my creativity would flow. One night, New Year’s eve, I was a feeling bit down as it was the first time I would spend this annual celebration alone. I didn’t have much money so I rummaged around the house for materials to settle in for an evening of painting. In the basement I found a large piece of cardboard, it was not a canvas but it would do. I also found a few tubes of artist’s oil paints (probably from an old paint by numbers set) and set about to do some painting. I had mostly white, a bit of black and some red so in my mind I though maybe I could paint the portrait of a French street mime. The hours passed and the painting I was creating on the board became more and more strange looking, to the point it became… well how should I say, kind of hideous. The portrait of Dorian Gray couldn’t have looked more horrifying.  After it was complete I stood looking at the thing in front of me and a cold shiver ran through me. Maybe I was just tired; I covered the painting and climbed into bed thinking that it will look different in the morning.

I was awakened early to the sound of the phone ringing and I scrambled out of bed to answer. The painting was in the kitchen and as I ran past to grab the phone I noticed that it was no longer covered and this gave me a start. 

The call was from my Mom and she had bad news. My Aunt (with whom we were all very close) had become ill and was taken to the hospital. The strange thing was that it was so unexpected; she became very confused and was saying and doing very bazaar things, the doctors were not sure what was wrong. As a stood listening to this horrible news on my phone I was staring straight into the face of this creature like thing that I had created and to me it looked like it was smiling. 

Fast forward many years I am now happily married with a family of three energetic kids. My Aunt, had long recovered from this mysterious illness of which the Doctors could never determine the cause and was healthy and happy.

My husband and I were excitedly preparing to move into a new home. We were very content in our world filled with family chaos, the children and their friends now noisily running about the house. I went downstairs to pack in the basement and to get away from the circus on the main floor. I was just starting to look around, checking every nook and cranny for the many items families collect over the years when something caused me to pause. I could see in the dark part of the basement that something was stuffed behind the furnace.  My mind went back many years remembering; I knew exactly what was hiding there in the dark. 

I went back to that small rental house and I was just hanging up the phone after talking to my Mom. I grabbed the painting and was preparing to destroy it, but for some reason I couldn’t. I suddenly had this crazy idea in my head that if I destroyed this painting my aunt would die. I don’t know why I thought this but I did not like the way it looked back at me with a smirk of – I don’t know victory maybe challenge? All I know is it scared me to my core. I quickly wrapped it up took it downstairs and stuffed it behind the furnace. Now years later: here I am face to face with this hideous object and it looked even more terrifying than it did when it was first painted it so long ago.

I shuddered and wondered how I could have created something to disturbing. I quickly wrapped it up and packed it for its move to its new home, behind a furnace of course.

That picture came with me through several moves, each time hidden with care. Over the years I don’t believe anyone in my family ever saw the abomination and I wanted it that way. A few years ago my lovely aunt, after many happy years spent with the family, became ill and ultimately passed away. We were very lucky to have her for all those years. 

Sometime after her death, and very late one night I quietly crept downstairs after the family was asleep. I removed the offending portrait from behind the furnace; and then after looking at its smug smile one last time I destroyed it. As I tore it up into small and insignificant pieces – I believe I was smiling.