WoE Prompt: Mariella’s Drawing

http://sarahealy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/WoE-Week-4_700.jpgImage Courtesy of Unsplash (click to enlarge picture)

Dan dropped his cigarette, crushing it under his shoe. He stared at the small gray house across the street. With a heavy sigh, he walked to the door and knocked.

Mariella’s caretaker was watching for him, as usual. The door swung open and Angela stood in the doorway, smelling of strong perfume and smoke. “It’s been awhile, Dan. Do you have time for a cup of coffee and a smoke before you go up?”

The urge for another cigarette washed over him, but as he looked at Angela’s filmy blouse, bright red lipstick and seductive smile, he knew she was a complication he didn’t need.

Instead, he shook his head. “No, I want to get this over with.” Even he heard the weariness in his voice.

He felt tired and achy; probably coming down with the flu, but he couldn’t miss the anniversary.

Disappointed, Angela shrugged. “It’s your choice. You know the way.”

He climbed the old staircase. He knew every rip in the tattered plaid runner and every creak of the steps.

The bedroom door was open. Mariella was in a railed hospital bed, propped up by pillows and focused on the drawing pad in her lap; her pencil moving quickly over the paper drawing the place where she was attacked.

Dan knew the place very well. He’d seen her running there many times. But more importantly, he was the one who saved her that day.

He was already giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when a nearby forest ranger rushed up the hill, after hearing Mariella’s screams for help.

Severely beaten in the head, she wasn’t expected to live, but did. She was partially paralyzed, blind and speech impaired. Dan visited her often. He was the one who realized she wanted to draw and gave her a pad and pencil.

Everyone was shocked when she drew the mountain path where she almost died with amazing accuracy. She captured the gray gravel path, the tall leafless trees and even the foggy autumn chill.

After that day, she kept drawing. Dan was sure she’d draw her attacker, but she never did. She drew the same picture of the path. It was the only thing she seemed to remember about the attack.

In the beginning, the police studied the drawings hoping for a clue, but eventually gave up. Dan didn’t forget. He visited every anniversary of the attack, wondering if she would remember this time.

Today, as he listened to her pencil scratching the paper, he was unable to resist. He stepped closer to the bed and peeked at her drawing.

Much later, a sobbing Angela told police she’d heard Mariella crying and rushed upstairs. She said she found Dan dead on the floor by the bed. It looked like a heart attack.

The drawing lay face-up near his body. She said she looked at it in disbelief. It wasn’t the same drawing as usual. This time, Mariella had drawn Dan standing at the curve of the gravel path, holding a bloody hammer.

*     *     *     *     *

This story is for a Write on Edge Writing Prompt: Week Four. I used the picture for my prompt.

31 comments to WoE Prompt: Mariella’s Drawing

  1. Morgan says:

    Ack! What a twist…and yet there was a niggling in my brain, “Why did he so grudgingly come to here, unless he had ulterior motives.” Well written with just enough of details about the characters to paint us a vivid picture.
    Morgan´s last blog post ..Traveling Through the Mist

    • Sara says:

      @ Morgan — When the story first started, Dan was a policeman investigation the attack — at least in my mind, but somewhere along the way, he changed. I just sort of let the story go where it wanted to go.

      Thanks for reading the story:~)

  2. Lyssa Medana says:

    What an amazing story in such a confined space! Thank you! LM x

  3. Atreyee says:

    Oh,this was a gripping tale and loved how you brought the characters to life!Great twist at the end-karma! Excellent writing Sara:-)
    Atreyee´s last blog post ..Legacy

  4. Jean Sampson says:

    Well, Sara, I guess you have overcome the urge to write happy endings! :) Seriously, this is a wonderful story, engaging, with a slam at the end—–did not see that one coming! You are a wonderful writer and I always enjoy your stories and the characters you create in so few words! Good job!

    • Sara says:

      @ Jean — Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it.

      Well, in some ways this was a happy ending. At least poor Mariella will not have to put up with her attacker visiting her every anniversary. But, don’t worry happy endings stories will reappear:~)

  5. Lynn says:

    Wow! A heart pounding ending!

  6. Roxanne says:

    I love the twist! What really got me though, was the fact that you can’t tell if Dan knew he was her attacker. Did he have a heart attack from the shock of realizing what he’d done, or that she finally drew him in her picture? That’s what ran through my head at the very end. This piece is very well written and I thank you for sharing it with us!
    Roxanne´s last blog post ..The runner.

    • Sara says:

      @ Roxanne — Good point. That’s one problem I run into with 500 words — things get left out. In my mind, Dan knew, but he hoped Mariella would never remember. He was already sick and seeing the picture with him in it gave him a heart attack.

  7. angela says:

    What a twist! That’s not what I was expecting, though there is something strange about his state of mind throughout the whole piece. Nice job!
    angela´s last blog post ..Snow day fun

  8. nice job, and a quick cut to an interesting ending – my I am fond of your story telling – Thank you for sharing

    I reviewed a painting by Terrill Welch of Mayne Island BC Canada in her December art show on line which was called the Journey to Everyday – very like your picture at the top of the post. Of course, they both look like my woodsy walk trail this time of year.

    Many thanks for the story break
    Patricia of Patricias Wisdom´s last blog post ..THE FIXER: A Justice Novel (Mort Grant Series 1) ~T.E. Woods

    • Sara says:

      @ Patricia — Thanks for the read and your comment. The picture was given to us as a prompt. I have no idea where it was taken, but it looked kind of spooky to me:~)

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story break!

  9. pea says:

    Hallo! (Wave!) I can’t read this today as I’ve got a bit of vertigo but wanted to say hallooo!
    pea´s last blog post ..It Is Always Now

    • Sara says:

      @ pea — I’m so sorry you’re suffering from vertigo. I HATE FEELING DIZZY. But it’s good to know you’re still out there. I stop by your site every time I do my visits, but I understand how difficult is to write you don’t feel well.

      Take good care of yourself. I send you lots of healing thoughts. Do you feel them. I hope so. I miss you:~)

  10. Tina says:

    Nicely done! Loved the twist–but I want to know why he had a heart attack if he knew what she was going to draw? Must be more to the story!

  11. Oh. My. God. he had the heart attack when he saw the drawing, perhaps she watched him die and he knew she remembered and knew. What a dark heart he concealed all those years.

    You write so well, Sara!! I always LOVE your short stories. And the way you build, add details and keep us in the dark until the last minute really shines your talent forth!


    • Sara says:

      @ Jannie — Thank you very much. It’s nice to know you like the short stories. I do enjoy telling them, but find sometimes the word count very challenging. Then again, that’s the challenge:~)

  12. Linda says:

    Hi Sara,

    Excellent story and I was amazed at the ending. I tried on a lot of different scenarios. I didn’t want to believe he was the one who did it. Why did he give her the pencil and paper in the first place? I bet he was terrified when he saw she could draw from memory, wondering each time if she remembered him.
    Linda´s last blog post ..Risky Business

    • Sara says:

      @ Linda — Perhaps he wanted to be caught:~) My conversation with him didn’t really get that far. In the beginning, he wasn’t even going to be the killer…it just sort when that way as I wrote.

      I’m loving your stories in your 30-2 challenge!

  13. Valerie says:

    I think this was a brilliant look into a highly disturbed mind! He couldn’t believe what he’d done, yet he couldn’t stay away either, and the risk of being caught was probably a thrill. For her, I’m hope she found closure and peace.

    I always love coming along for the ride when you write, dear friend:) You make me care about your characters and the world they inhabit!
    Valerie´s last blog post ..Raw Genius

    • Sara says:

      @ Valerie — Thank for your sweet words. My muse has been in a bit of funk lately and so, reading this comment made both of us smile:~)

  14. Ginny says:

    Sara, I always love reading your stories. You paint such a vivid image of your characters and the setting. I always know that there will be a twist so the whole time I am reading I am also trying to figure out how you will surprise me. This time I did not see it coming. Can’t wait for the next one.
    Ginny´s last blog post ..What Nourishes Your Creative Spirit?

  15. Hilary says:

    Hi Sara .. great twist to the story .. and leave us wondering .. cheers Hilary
    Hilary´s last blog post ..GrandBlogMom … Guess who uses this? Ypocras an update …

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