The prompt for the 18th was to write a story inspired by a painting. I chose this one from the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. (I had never used the Google Cultural Institute/Art Project before, but it is pretty awesome. I actually just gone to the AGO’s website to see what they had and that was where it directed me. Very cool and definitely lots of writing inspiration in there!)
Here is my story. It is more of a fragment, I suppose, then a complete piece, but I think this one has some potential. (The beginning is a bit at odds with where it ends up going, but I haven’t gone back to edit anything.)
I cannot count the number of days that I walked home from school in the cold — me and Mary and Colette, the three of us trudging along the packed snow of the road home. It was not a particularly long walk, not more than a mile and a half, but in the winter it felt so much longer.
Not only were the three of us all in the same grade, our birthdays were clustered together, all within six weeks in the late spring.
Looking back now, I can’t say if we were best friends because of proximity or personality, but it worked for the whole time we were growing up.
But there was that one day, that one walking home in the cold and snow day, that stands out so clearly in my memory even now.
We were in grade seven almost finished with the small, local one room schoolhouse. Soon it would be time for us to take the bus to the nearest town for high school. The town seemed very distant and exotic for Mary and I. We didn’t go into town often, there was little call for it. Our tiny village had what we, for the most part, needed and the rest came by mail order.
But Colette had lived in the town at one point and had actually visited the nearest city, something neither Mary nor I would do until we were adults.
Colette liked to regale us with stories of the town and we were eager to hear them. On that cusp of almost approaching adulthood, we were little sponges for anything outside of our day-to-day experience.
We were walking and Colette was talking and Mary and I listening — the story in particular is not important — when we were suddenly approached from behind by a carriage moving at quite a clip. We moved over to the side of the road, where the snow was less well packed and harder to walk on, to let the vehicle pass us, but instead it slowed down.
“Is it this way to the Harper farm?” a woman asked us, leaning out of the window.
The only way I could think to describe her at the time was fancy. She had a spectacular hat on, dark and decorated with lace and feathers. The bodice of her dress had beads.
Colette and Mary looked at me and what she had said suddenly sunk in.
“That’s my farm. At least, my parents…,” my voice trailed off hopelessly.
The woman looked at me appraisingly.
“Are you Victoria?” she asked.
“Yes,” I managed to stammer out, not knowing how she could possibly know who I was.
But she smiled, a big friendly smile that somehow seemed at odds with her carriage and her clothing.
“I am your Aunt Charlotte,” she announced to my great surprise. “Your father’s sister.”
An aunt I had not known existed and whose presence in my life would change so very much.