by Myles Abroad
It's hard to have a stress free life.
A Relaxing Morning at Home
Jason sat at the kitchen table and relaxed into his chair. It was a beautiful Saturday morning. Spring was in full bloom, the sun was shining and a warm blossom scented breeze was wafting in through the windows.
The morning chores were done, the kids were outside playing and his wife, Karen was going to be stepping out for a couple of hours. Bliss! He took a sip of coffee and spread the newspaper in front of him.
Karen came bustling into the kitchen looking at her watch.
"I'm late, Jason. Do I look alright?"
Jason smiled and reeled off the carefully choreographed response. "You look beautiful, honey."
He spotted something then and froze. "Um, Karen? You got a bit of green paint on your nose."
She put her finger to her nose then looked at it and laughed. "Silly me. I was doing a bit of painting this morning. "
She went to the sink, dabbed at her nose and turned to him.
"Is it gone?"
He nodded and she bent down, brushed her lips on his and left.
"Whew." He muttered. "That was a close call. She would have had a few things say if I hadn't noticed that."
He had just started to relax when Karen's brother, Roy, put his head in the kitchen window.
"Hey Jason, can I borrow your golf clubs. I'm teeing off in a couple of hours."
"Sure. I'm not using them this weekend. Come in."
He led Roy to the spare room. He opened the door and was hit by the heavy smell of oil paints.
"Woe! You should open a window. You could get high in here."
"Karen would throw a fit if I did. She's taken the room over as her painting studio."
Jason remembered when she had decided to move her studio into the house to save money. She had been so stressed that he or the kids would mess up her work. He promised they wouldn't even go into the room unless it was an emergency. Sometimes, though, he snuck in to look at her work.
He looked around at what had once been a tidy room. The furniture had been stacked into one half of the room. An easel with a painting in work was set up next to the couch. Canvasses leaned up against the walls; paint, jars and brushes littered a book shelf.
At least she had drop cloths spread across the floor and some on the furniture. He sighed at the shredded up paper lying on the floor in front of the easel and then gaped when he spotted a heavily used pallet resting on the arm of the couch. He had to suppress an urge to tidy up. How she could work in this chaos was beyond him.
Roy was transfixed with the painting in the easel. Jason looked on, admiring it. It depicted a black and white cat sitting in front of some bushes.
"Your sister a great painter, Roy."
He nodded and whistled. "She sure is. The detail is stunning. The cat has a white face but she somehow put in black flecks that gives the impression of individual hairs."
"Did you notice the eyes? Look at them and then move to the side."
Roy did as he was told and then laughed. "The eyes follow me. Amazing."
"She's been working on this for weeks. It's her best work yet."
Roy looked at his watch. "How about those golf clubs. I need to go."
Jason nodded at the closet behind him. Roy opened it, pulled out the bag and then looked back at him.
"Tell Karen, I love her work," Roy said as he swung the clubs over his shoulder. The bottom of the bag caught the painting and knocked it off the easel. Jason watched in horror as it dropped face forward onto the pallet and then slid into the scatter of shredded paper.
Jason felt his stomach lurch; sweat beaded on his forehead. He slowly picked up the painting and put it back on the easel. The pallet was stuck to the canvas hiding the poor cat. It slid down and fell to the floor leaving the cat's face a white smear mingled with the green of its once beautiful eyes.
Roy pulled off the paper that was stuck to it and sighed. "Maybe we can fix it, Jason."
"What? I don't know anything about painting."
Roy looked at him and smiled smugly. "I was quite the artist in my day." He grabbed a brush and a pot of white paint. "I'll just touch up the face."
Jason wasn't prepared for that. He swiped at Roy's hand to take the brush away from him. All he accomplished was to create a long smear of paint projecting from what used to be the cat's head.
"Now look what you made me do," Roy said. "I know what I'm doing. Now go back to the kitchen and relax."
Jason found himself pacing in the kitchen until he heard Karen's car pull in. Panic washed over him as he ran back into the studio.
Roy smiled, looking relaxed. He had Karen's smock on, a pallet in his hand and was dabbing the painting with a brush.
"I'm just finished. I think it's better than what she had."
Jason looked at it in shock. "But... but... that's not a cat. It looks more like a unicorn."
"I need to go. I blame the kids. It easier that way."
Roy left and he could hear Karen call after him.
"Roy? Why are wearing my smock?" He heard hurried footsteps approach.
Jason sank down into the couch, dropped his head into his hands and awaited the coming storm.