“It’s a pity.” The (almost) naked artist whispered loudly to himself. He was staring longingly at the ceiling. Munching habitually on his apple core, he made sure to study the space above him in its entirety. I, meanwhile, was taking a break from packing. I had detoured to the entrance hall steps on my way to the kitchen.
As I approached, I sent my eyes to the ceiling. The basement mural was, once again, covered in the thick, grey, dust-like substance.
“Yeah, it is.” I said, coming up to stand alongside him. He jumped at least a good six inches, giving me immense satisfaction. It felt wonderful to scare a ghost for once, as opposed to the other way around. I smiled triumphantly at him. Admittedly, that felt a bit childish, but I was enjoying the moment. When he made eye contact, it still took him a moment to blink himself back to normal.
“We could always do it again?” He suggested hopefully, raising an eyebrow. His erratic hair seemed to stand further on end. That suggestion didn’t sit well with me.
“You can do it.” I decided, remaining strong in my resolve. I really didn’t want to stay here (not even for something that had piqued my curiosity so strongly). Maybe Gina would help him.
“But no one else can see me.” He lamented, his tone plummeting. He gave me a look that was, in itself, rather pitiful.
“Ahsi can?” I suggested halfheartedly. I realized a moment too late that I wasn’t certain that was true. I hadn’t said my goodbyes to her yet. In fact, I’d been purposefully dodging my uncle.
Hmpf. He scoffed, his eyes wandering off to my right. Yeah, I couldn’t really picture the two of them painting together either.
“Well. . .” I started to add to my thought, but no one else was coming to mind. I voiced a different idea instead:
“You might not need help.”
That sounded a bit uncertain out loud. His eyebrows burrowed in confusion, his gaze returning to intently stare into mine. His brown eyes were still hopeful that I’d help him repair it. I was recalling Lucy and Serena’s contrasting grips on reality.
“I just watched a ghost hammer wooden boards over a door. Surely you can figure out how to handle a paintbrush.” I tried to sound more confident. Although I didn’t intend to, I felt I might have sounded a bit condescending. But, it’d been said. If I gave him the courage, and I convinced him it was possible, then maybe it would work. Sure, Serena had trouble carrying an envelope or catching a plate of food. But she was just beginning to understand how to interact with the world. The artist might not even know it’s in his potential.
He looking longingly back at the ceiling. I saw his hands awkwardly rub against each other, his apple core sinking back underneath his grip. He stared a moment longer, sighing loudly. Then he brought his gaze back down to me.
“I’m not sure I can.” He lamented.
“So you’re not willing to try?” I asked. My reaction was almost instinctive. Inside, I could feel a certain energy surging in my blood. He blinked at me.
“Gina, bring the supplies.” I declared, waving my hand at the general direction of where the ladder should go. Maybe I really could give him the courage. I didn’t actually know if he could do it or not, but there was always the possibility.
Predictably, Gina brought in our supplies. I caught sight of her various creatures: spiders, cockroaches, and ants mostly. Once the ladder was set up, she placed various supplies beside it. At quick glance I could see paint brushes, mixing trays, cleaning rags, and some water. I poked through the pile to find what I was looking for.
“Try?” I asked, holding out a paintbrush. I had the handle towards him, just waiting for him to grasp it. Slowly, with tremendous uncertainty, he raised his hand. When he fingers bumped into mine, I felt the habitual chill. When I felt the weight transfer, I let go.
The brush didn’t fall. The artist held his grip.