Iulia-Gabriela Pugna participates in the “Short prose” section of the International Literary Creation Competition, 4th edition, from Susenii Bârgăului, Romania. Iulia-Gabriela is 20 years old. We thank her for her participation and wish her success.
The painting This story is about a girl named Carla and a strange painting, a very old house and a cat. Carla was a teen girl who loved to read books about girls with many friends and big, happy families to keep her mind off of the fact that she spent most of her time alone. She loved her parents very much and they gave her everything she asked for and more, but they worked most of the time so she was mostly by herself. She sometimes wished things were a little different. Her only friend was her cat, Blue, a British shorthair that she got after Carla had a panic attack when she was left home alone and got spooked when she heard a scary noise. It was late November when her parents had to go on a business trip and had to leave Carla at her grandmother for a few days. Her grandmother lived in a three-story house in a remote area near a village. Carla’s favorite room was in the attic and that’s where she chose to sleep every time. It was a pink themed room, so everything was in a different shade of pink and the furniture was white. But to get to that princess room she had to cross the dark attic, which always made her feel uneasy. After her parents had left, her grandmother went out to the village to buy some food for them and so she was left alone with Blue. She decided to take some books with her upstairs and read until her grandmother came back. A few hours had passed, and it was already dark outside and her grandmother hadn’t come back, which made her anxious. All of a sudden, she heard a noise from downstairs and she thought her grandmother came back. She rushed down but the house was empty and decided to go back up. When she turned towards the stairs, she saw that the porch light was on and in front of the door there was a black box with a few scratches and a white ribbon. She took it inside to her room and curiously inspected it some more. Blue was instantly by her side and started sniffing the box. Since Carla wasn’t a very patient, she opened the box without waiting for her grandmother. Inside there was an old oil painting of a house in the woods. The details on it were amazing, it looked so realistic. She was amazed by it. It was just a painting of a house but it made her feel strangely safe, as if it was her own house. she decided to hang it on the wall outside the room, thinking it would help her with the fear of the attic. Right after she finished, she heard her grandmother’s voice and ran downstairs to greet her, she was so happy to see her. That night they ended up talking for hours catching up on the little things which made Carla really happy. Carla also didn’t forget to tell her grandmother about the painting: “Grandma, before you came, I found a strange box with a painting in it at the front door.” “What? That’s strange, I wasn’t expecting anything. Does it say who is it from?” “Well I looked and I didn’t see any sign or a name.” “Well where is it now?” “I took it to my room. I was bored and alone so I took it.” “Who knows. Maybe someone wanted to get rid of it and they left it here. You can keep it if you want to. I already have many.” “Really? Can I? Thank you, grandma! But I will leave it in the room so that whenever I come, I can see it there.” “As you wish little dove” The next day was just as normal, and so were the rest until the day before Carla’s parents were coming back after her. Carla was packing up her things when she decided to take Blue outside. She opened the door to let some air into the house and Blue ran out. Carla started panicking and quickly told her grandmother what had happened. The both of them stayed out late looking for Blue but she was nowhere to be found. Carla’s grandmother tried to make her feel better by telling her that Blue was going to come back eventually but that didn’t make her feel any better. She went to the pink room with tears in her eyes, not caring even about the darkness. She was blaming herself for being careless and kept thinking of all the things that might have happened to. She took a glimpse at the painting on the wall and saw a dot near the house. She took the painting down to take a closer look at it and to her shock that dot was actually a cat. She kept wondering how she didn’t see it before. She also noticed how that cat looked strangely similar to Blue. She didn’t think anything of it, so she went back to thinking about poor Blue and hoping that she would come back. The next morning she had to go back with her parents but made her grandmother promise with a tourn heart that she’ll call if Blue comes back. A few weeks had passed and it was almost Christmas time. She hadn’t hear anything from her grandmother and neither did her parents. They thought that maybe something bad had happened to her so they decided to go to her house and check on her. Once they arrive, they notice there was nobody there. They get worried and immediately call the police. Carla had noticed that the painting was on the kitchen counter and there was an old lady sitting in front of the door. It immediately made sense! Her grandmother and Blue disappeared because they were in the painting! But when she tried to tell her parents they thought she was just joking and making fun of the situation. They didn’t take her seriously. “I’m serious! Look!” Carla showed her mother the painting “Carla, it is just a painting. You know that this is absurd.” “But Blue is also in the painting! There must be something magical about it! What if we get trapped in it too?” “See I told you to stop buying her books. Now she’s talking nonsense.” Said her father. She stormed to her room, mad that nobody believed her and jumped in the bed and cried until she fell asleep. *** It’s Christmas. Carla woke up hearing voices from downstairs. She got out of bed and went down in her pajamas. Everyone was waiting for her near the Christmas tree under which there were many gift boxes waiting for her. She started to open them one by one. There were mostly books that she wanted and new clothes. After finishing she thanked her parents for the gifts and told them how much she loved them, but her grandmother had one more surprise for her. She brings out a big box with holes in it. Carla opens it and there it was, Blue! She hugs her tightly and tells her how much she missed her. After that they all go outside to play in the snow. Carla had never been happier. *** A few years pass and the old house was on sale. A newly wed couple were going to look into it since the description of the house was what they were wishing for. After they arrive at the house, they start to inspect every room. Each one of them was empty as if nobody has ever lived there. They loved every single room and had already planned how they were going to decorate each one of them. As they were about to leave they heard a noise from the attic, as if something had fallen. They go to see what it was and find a door at the very end of the attic. They go into the room and notice how strangely unlike the other rooms in the house this one had pink walls and in the middle of the room there was a painting. The painting of a girl, with her two parents and what looked like her grandmother, playing in the snow in front of a house in the woods, in which there was a cat looking at the through the window.