“I think I know why it brought you back.”
“So that you could say goodbye,” Vex said. “When this
house burned down, your family was on vacation, you said. When someone puts so
much effort, so much of themselves into something, they leave a lasting
impression on the world. Those impressions don’t just vanish because they were
destroyed—things only vanish when they’re forgotten.”
Katrina placed her hand on the wall and closed her eyes.
“I will never forget.”
“I think that you did forget something, in fact. Something
very important. Your art is unfinished.”
The artists eyes flashed up and stared at Vex, daring her
to criticize her childhood work.
“We have been through every room in this house. There’s a
lot of your life here. It’s amazing. But I think that when this place burned
down, it lacked the one thing that makes every artwork complete—in every room
we’ve been through, I haven’t seen your name written even once—you never had a
chance to sign it.”
“I see,” Katrina said. “All these years, the lifework of
my childhood self has gone orphaned.” She canted her head again and closed her
eyes, speaking to the house. “It was good to see you again, old friend, but I
understand if you desire to rest.”
From a hidden pocket, she produced a large silver pen. The
room trembled when she pressed the tip to the wall. Like a fluid exhalation,
she swept the pen across the paneling and wrote her name with an elegant and
controlled script, the leg of the ‘K’ broadly slicing beneath her first name.
And, when the last bold stroke was placed, something
sighed. The very air seemed to shiver, boards creaked, glass rattled, wood
crunched. Both Vex and Katrina fled from the house then, rushing out onto the
lawn as the entire structure began to quiver in a terrible fashion. The very
foundation quaked as it bent into itself. The windows were the first to go,
swallowed up into nothing. As they watched, the house crumpled into itself with
an upwards motion, the foundation uprooted from the ground, the temple-entrance
and the pediment folded up like the doors on a bus, and it all twirled inwards
like a tornado.
As quickly as it started, the commotion ended. Abrupt like
a smack to the face, the column of light and collapsing materials crashed back
onto the raw dirt where the foundation once stood. A deafening roar exploded
from the vicinity and it threw up a huge cloud of dust that billowed in a
rolling fog of white and grey.
When the dust cleared the house was gone, completely
vanished, but what remained in its stead brought a smile to their lips.
Piled there, in the midst of the lot, was a mountain of
picture frames. Each one displayed different aspects of the house that Vex had
seen within. Not a single bit of artwork had been forgotten. And, on every one,
the brilliant signature of Katrina’s sliver penned name leapt out like a
banner, declaring her as the artist.