I wasn't going to pull from the archives but I felt bad about not providing ANYTHING. Honestly, I need to mark down what I've already posted so I don't post the same thing twice. I don't edit my work or, it seems, my blog!
EDIT: Umm...I don't know how to tell you this but I messed up my ending. I changed it from my original document thinking I was going one way but...well, I forgot my original intent. I will post the original ending below. You can decide which you like better.
“50 years is a long time.” Rosemary Priestly told the young blonde man standing behind her easel. “Longer than you’ve had memory, I’ll bet. Exactly how old are you?”
Rosemary set her paintbrush in the jar of mineral spirits. The man looked uncomfortable at the question and shifted his weight from foot to foot. She didn’t plan to speak again until he had answered her question. For a minute, the only sound in the art room was the clinking of the brush handle against the glass jar.
“I’m 37, Ma’am.” He answered. “I’m old enough.” His voice was soft, respectful. Rosemary knew he had been raised by proper standards. He knew how to treat his elders.
“I was younger than that, only 34 when…” Rosemary let her voice trail off. She didn’t want to finish the sentence, not yet. “Did you know I knew your mother?”
The young man nodded.
“She spoke about you.” He said. “She always said you were a wonderful teacher and a brilliant artist.”
She sighed and let the paintbrush go. Her sigh was sad and a little lost. “I suppose you want to know what happened?”
The young man, for that’s how she would think of him, straightened and uncrossed his arms.
“You know that anything you say can—“
Rosemary waved her hand to cut him off. There was olive drab oil paint on the edge of her little finger.
“You told me this earlier.” She said. “But I’m 84 now and not in the best of health. I’ll never make it to trial, so this will most likely be the last chance anyone will have to hear the story.”
“Ms. Priestly, did you kill Hannah Michaels?” The young man edged closer to the easel. As he moved, Rosemary could see the edge of his gun and the badge clipped to his belt.
“Yes, I killed her.” Rosemary said.
“Why?” The word came out a bit more explosive than the detective had intended. He took a step back and waited for the answer anyway.
“She knew about the flowers—what they were for.” Rosemary hung her head, but only for a second. When she looked back up, the intensity in her eyes startled the detective.
“I had hoped she’d carry on the tradition, after I was gone.” Rosemary’s voice was direct and clear. “I thought she’d be the one. How was I to know that she’d react that way?” She gave the detective a helpless look.
“Ma’am, if you’ll excuse me, you’re not making much sense.” The man ran a hand through his blonde hair. “Are you confessing to the murder of Hannah Michaels?”
“Son, I’m confessing to much more than that.” Rosemary said.
She stood using the wooden easel for support and was amused when the detective tensed. They both knew she couldn’t run from him. Rosemary picked up the canvas she had been working on and walked towards the far wall of the art room.
Three paintings already hung on the wall in an unfinished square pattern. Rosemary placed the still wet oil painting on a nail hanging in the lower right quadrant. The square pattern was complete.
“I’m confessing to this.” Rosemary waved her hand to indicate the four paintings. She turned to look at the detective, whose face was etched in puzzlement. “You don’t see, do you?” She sighed.
“Ma’am, what is it I should be seeing?” The detective walked closer to the paintings.
Detective Dufrene wasn’t an art fanatic, but he could tell the paintings were done by someone very skilled. They depicted an almost idyllic scene, and reminded the detective of the pictures in the history book of ancient Greek art. The scenery for each painting showed the same tree and meadow, only the subjects and the seasons were different.
“The story is a long one, though not uncommon.” Rosemary said, drawing the detective’s attention back towards her. “Please sit down and I’ll tell you.”
Rosemary walked back to her chair and the now empty easel. The detective didn’t move from his spot.
“Ma’am, I just need to know why you killed Hannah Michaels.” He said.
“The trees of the present have roots in the past.” Rosemary quoted. “I can never remember who said that, but it fits our situation. To understand Hannah’s death, you need to go back 50 years with me. Are you willing to listen?”
The detective shifted his weight again, unconsciously letting Rosemary know he was uncomfortable with the whole situation. Out the window, Rosemary could see the ambulance drive away. No lights or sirens. There was no need. Their cargo was no longer in need of medical assistance.
Rosemary let the silence hang. Old habits die hard and she had never spoken after she’d asked a question. She waited patiently. The silence became too much for the detective. He walked over to a chair near Rosemary and sat down.
“No matter what I have to take you in and write up the report.” He said. “No one will want to believe you killed someone.”
“You already have your confession. I’m willing to write my statement saying how I did it, but if you want to hear the why, you’ll have to indulge me.” Rosemary said. She looked at the detective. Was 37 really so young?
“Why?” he asked again. He seemed to be near begging Rosemary to give him a good reason for the murder. He was having a hard time believing her to be evil and he needed to believe killers were evil.
“You’re the kind who always needs a reason, aren’t you?” She had a sympathetic look on her face. “You should know by now that not everything has a reason. Sometimes it just happens.”
“This is not one of those times.” The detective pressed.
“No, it’s not.” Rosemary agreed. “Will you listen to my story?”
The detective nodded.
Rosemary sat back in her chair and began.
“I came to Sewark University over 50 years ago as an art teacher. I was to teach classical figure painting and advanced oil techniques. This was big deal for me because I had always dreamed of working in the arts, but neither of my parents believed I could make anything come of it. You can imagine my excitement.”
The detective nodded, but didn’t interrupt the story.
“Back then the art department was a very integral part of the college campus. Most students took at least one art class. To even be considered as a professor was a great honor.
"I seemed to fit right in with the rest of the faculty. I made friends easily because I was very pretty. The first day I met Thomas Listern, I knew I was destined to marry him.”
As Rosemary had predicted, the name made the detective sit up a little straighter. Still, he held his tongue and said nothing.
“It was a whirlwind romance, if you can believe it. He was the theater director and every girl wanted him. He had that devil-may-care attitude, along with the looks to back it up. His hair was the color of clover honey and had the natural curl that most girls would murder for. His eyes were so blue they looked cold. I’ve never seen eyes like that before or since.
When I tell you he was handsome, it wasn’t only by my generation’s standards. He was classical. The kind of man even the Greek and Roman painters wanted to immortalize. “
Rosemary saw the detective’s own, rather mundane, blue eyes sweep over to the paintings behind her. She knew what he was seeing. The first painting showed a spring scene. A man with honey colored hair leaning against a tree. The man’s tunic was decorated with traditional Greek ornament. A dagger could clearly be seen in a sheath at his side.
Leaning against his chest was a young, fiery-haired woman looking into the man’s eyes. They looked happy and very much in love, though you could see something more intense in the woman’s green eyes. The man had one hand on the woman’s shoulder and the other upturned as if he were indicating a far-off place. He seemed he was speaking in low tones and the woman was enthralled with what she heard.
“I loved him dearly.” Rosemary continued. “And we were rarely apart. After only my third semester there, he proposed marriage. We were to be married that winter.
"Don’t think my entire time there had been completely wrapped in Thomas. On the contrary, I did teach and I loved my students. I actually spent more time with my students than Thomas.
"There was one student, Laurel West, who showed great promise. I took her under my wing and gave her extra attention. She was a natural painter. Her mind had wonderful images and she brushed them onto the canvas as if they’d always been there, just waiting for her touch. It seemed effortless to her.
"I had a few students who showed exceptional promise, but none like Laurel. I managed to convince the department, with a little help from Thomas, to sponsor a students’ art show. Laurel was to be the feature.
"Of course, I spent a great deal of time preparing the show, that I didn’t see what everyone else was seeing. Laurel, on top of being a great artist, or maybe because she was so gifted, was a self-centered. She was young and spirited. This made her care only about getting what she wanted. She usually did get it, too.
"One night I had been working late preparing for the upcoming show. The department was fairly deserted as I walked out of the building. In the hallway I could see Thomas’ office door open. I knew he had a play opening soon, so it was not unusual for him to stay late, nitpicking over the set or going over rehearsal notes.
"I went to his door, but the office was empty. I decided to see if he was in the theater itself. I felt a little guilty about spending all of my time on the art show and neglecting my fiancé.
"I wish to this day I had gone out the back door of the building. Then I wouldn’t have known, wouldn’t have seen anything.”
The detective’s eyes darted between Rosemary and the second painting. It was the same location, only this was depicted summer. The man was tangled in a passionate embrace with a young blonde. The blonde had on a very short tunic with one arm completely bare. The man had taken off his dagger belt and thrown it behind him.
The two lovers couldn’t see the red-head behind the tree or the fact that she was reaching down for the dagger. Her green eyes were the only ones open in the painting and the hate they held was palpable.
“I don’t know exactly what happened next.” Rosemary told the detective. “I just remember seeing Thomas and Laurel on the stage. Would you believe they even had the spotlight on?
"Seeing them…it just made me feel so weak and sick. I loved them both dearly and they were betraying me. They were enjoying themselves too much to have heard me walk in.
"Thomas really did keep a small dagger on a belt. No one really minded, it was a dramatic flair that they expected of him. It had fallen off the stage, I suppose because he threw it there. Now it was at my feet, just glinting half out of its sheath. I remember picking it up and walking onstage. I remember hearing Laurel scream, but I can’t remember actually stabbing them.”
Rosemary paused. In part because she was tiring but also to let the detective study her third painting.
The fall scene depicted the red haired woman alone, stretched out on the ground. The earth near the tree was brown, as if someone had dug up the entire area. The woman’s hands were stained red and splashes of blood dotted her tunic. The woman’s eyes were heartbroken and wet with tears.
“When I had calmed down I saw what I had done. They were both lying on the stage, in the spotlight, naked and dead. There I stood with the bloody dagger in my hands. I nearly laughed at the way it would have seemed to someone else. Just another dramatic production excellently performed.
"I knew no one would understand why I did it and I didn’t know what to do. I remembered that just outside the art department was an area of turned earth. The college was beautifying its campus by designing little landscapes. I admit what I did then was a bit of a risk, but I still wasn’t thinking clearly.
"There was a wheelbarrow outside near the turned earth. I got it and took both Thomas and Laurel outside. No one saw me dig the graves or bury them. I buried the blood stained bed sheets with Laurel and gave Thomas his dagger to keep for eternity. When I had covered them up, there was no telling where I had buried them. I knew I had dug deep enough that they wouldn’t be found when the landscapers put in the ground covering.”
The detective looked towards the water oak framed in the window of the art room. His face has gone white, but he said nothing and didn’t move from his chair.
“There was investigation, but not much. The detectives then just assumed they had run off together.
"That first art show was a great success. Laurel’s work was highly praised and the entire show was so well received, the college decided it should be an annual event. I was placed in charge of it, and even head it up to this day.
"There was a vase of flowers given to me by an art patron for the opening day of the show. By the end of the run, the petals were wilting. I took the flowers to the oak tree and separated them into two bunches. One I placed on Thomas’ grave and the second bunch I threw over Laurel’s.
"We’ve had flowers for every show opening and every time the show closes I take them out and place them on their graves. It’s become my own ritual, a way to remember them.”
The detective was no longer looking at her, but at the fourth painting. Rosemary decided to finish the story, to give the detective the why he had asked in the very beginning.
“I stopped teaching years ago, but the college asked me to stay on and run the art shows for them. One student, Hannah Michaels was featured in one of our shows. Her work reminded me of Laurel’s in so many ways. Hannah even had the same wild spirit Laurel had shown.
"I had approached her after her feature gallery opening to see if she would be interested in helping me with future shows. In exchange, I would help her improve her own techniques. She agreed and had been a wonderful apprentice.
"I don’t know if you’ve gone to the show that’s just closed, but it was wonderful! The students now have so much more to say and express. But tonight the show closed. I had decided to tell Hannah about the flower ritual to remember Thomas and Laurel.
"She didn’t believe me at first, until I showed her my paintings and the yearbook from then. It was dedicated to them, you know.
"Hannah turned very pale and when I tried to help her steady herself, she screamed and backed away from me as if I’d hurt her.
"The scream, detective, reminded me of Laurel that night. I’m not sure why, but I hit Hannah with the vase of flowers. She staggered back and fell in slow motion, it seemed. On the way down, the hit her head against the Hedgerton stone pedestal. Do you know what that is? It’s a very heavy, very solid marble pedestal used to show off pottery and sculptures.
"She was dead before she hit the ground. I didn’t mean for her to die, just for her to understand why this was so important to me.”
“Why didn’t you hide her body?” The detective asked. “Why not bury her like the others? Why did you call to report the incident at all?”
“I’m old, detective. I couldn’t have moved her, let alone bury her.” Rosemary smiled at the young man as if she were imparting a lesson that should have been easy for him.
“Besides, I told you in the beginning, fifty years is a long time.”
Rosemary looked at her final painting. It was the same tree, the same meadow, but it was now winter. The tree was barren and the ground was covered in snow. The woman, now aged, her hair no longer showing the fire red, but shades of gray. You could see the woman had the same sharp green eyes hidden in her wrinkled face. The eyes were turned lovingly on a patch of frozen earth.
The woman was kneeling on the frozen ground. Her hands were placing half-dead flowers on the ground in a neat pile. Off to the left of the painting, flowers were strewn in a haphazard way, as if they were flung violently.
What surprised the detective even more was what was behind the tree. Out of view of the old woman was a young blonde man waiting patiently, dagger in hand. Dufrene wasn't sure what color had been used for the eyes, but the blue looked like it might freeze his fingers if he touched it. The hate they held was palpable
EDIT: Below is the original ending. I changed it when I posted it bc I forgot which blonde character it was supposed to represent. Sorry.
What surprised the detective even more was what was behind the tree. Out of view of the old woman, waiting patiently, was a youngish blonde man very much like himself, the paint of his features still wet.
My lofty dreams of being a famous & brilliant writer were literally smacked out of my head. Now I plan to fill the void with copious amounts of subpar writing!