Ghosts At The Window!

The grass was tall, dry, brown and I could barely see the abandoned old school I once had attended in my youth so many years ago. It was a small school, only two stories tall! From the main road I could see the driveway was overgrown with grass and small trees. But there was enough room for me to pull off the main road and I parked. Though the sun was high in the sky, the clouds told me that it could rain.

As a painter, I was drawn to this building. I wanted to capture something from the past that had a special meaning to me. I attended this school and I remember the good and the bad times.I remembered just one teacher after all these years. His name was Mr. Pritchard, and he had a wooden leg. He was a cruel and angry man. I donít know why the school ever hired him because he was so short tempered.

Ironically, he had been the art teacher, and at that point in my life, I had no interest in art.But somehow the seed of art had to have been implanted into my mind, because here I was, in front of the old school, sitting in a folding chair, paint brush in hand looking at my easel. Most of my memories were of friends and play time and pranks. I recalled a girl I was sweet on name Emily.

She had red hair and always wore her hair in pig-tails! As I began to let my paint brush capture all that was before me, I could have sworn I heard the voices of small children in the wind. I brushed off that sound, as just the wind rustling through the trees and the place I was in. As I looked up once more towards the second floor windows that vandals had broken the glass out of, there they stood.

I saw three ghostly white sad little faces of children. I was so surprised I dropped my paint brush as they looked directly into my eyes! I couldnít have looked away from them for a million dollars. I saw two girls and a boy, and I could have sworn I saw tears rolling down the cheeks of one of the little girls. At that moment, I could feel my own tears falling as I leaned down and brushed the dirt and grass from my paint brush and hurriedly began to paint.

In some way, I think the reason they let me see them for so long, was to capture their faces in my painting and let the world know that they were in this school. They didnít want to be forgotten. I didnít know who they were and all during the time I painted, they never spoke a word. Finally, the oil painted was finished. I brushed away the tears from my eyes and looked up at the window, as I saw them begin to vanish.

The oldest girl began to wave good bye to me. As I looked back at my easel, I was astounded to see the depth of despair in each of their faces, captured on canvas. It was a sad moment for me, but I knew nowhere near as sad as the spirits of the three little children who lingered within the walls of this old school.I picked up my easel and brushes and put them away. I folded up my chair and carried the portrait back to my car.

After putting everything inside, I slid into the front seat. But before backing up to head for town, I glanced back at the school, half expecting to see the little lost souls one last time, but I didnít. I knew that everyone who would look at this painting would ask me how I came to paint such an emotionally moving painting. I also knew that if I told them the truth, that no one would ever believe me.

©2006 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)