The Painting

The Painting

When I was around four or five, my family moved out of our apartment and into a house in a nice small town outside of Philadelphia. We were on a quiet street only a block away from my grandparents, and the neighborhood was full of kids my age. It was perfect.

The house we moved into was quite old, built in the late 1800's (although we redid it quite a few times as the years went on). I had a bedroom right at the top of the stairs, that sat catty-corner to my parents bedroom. When both bedroom doors were open, I could see into part of their room. I could only see two things: their large dresser at the foot of the bed and a painting that hung on the wall on the far side of the room. My mother is extremely religious, and had a picture of an angel. In the painting the angel was kneeling down praying, face toward the sky, with a smile on her face. She was enveloped in a beam on light, blessed from on high. My mother loved this thing.

When I was around six, I began to have trouble sleeping at night. I would awake multiple times each night and have trouble falling back asleep. One night while lying awake in bed just sort of half asleep, and I started to stare at the painting. I wasn't sure what made me focus on it, but something had caught my eye. And that's when I noticed it. This young angel was no longer looking upwards toward the Lord. She was staring right at me. I thought that I must be dreaming, and rolled over with my face in the pillow. I fell asleep surprisingly quickly. When I woke the next morning, I thought nothing of it.

Two nights later, I woke up around 3am. And without thinking, my eyes drifted toward the painting. She was staring right at me again. I had to be dreaming. I was sure of it. I closed my eyes and counted to five. And then I opened them again slowly….. She was still staring right at me. I couldn't make sense of this. Was I seeing things? I was so curious and scared, yet I couldn't look away. I continued to stare at the painting. She was still staring right at me. I kept looking. And suddenly, she turned her head away from me. But not back toward the sky. She turned her head around as if to look at someone standing behind her, and then she began to move her mouth. I couldn't hear anything. It almost seemed like she was whispering to someone over her shoulder. And then all of the sudden, she slowly turned her head back and she was staring at me again. I couldn't take it anymore, I gathered the courage and ran toward the door, swinging it closed. I jumped back in bed and got under the covers, but that creepy feeling wouldn't go away. It was like I could feel her staring at me through the door. I finally passed out sometime later and didn't wake again until morning.

On my way to the school bus, I tried to tell my mom about the painting. She said that I was probably half asleep and still dreaming, or that maybe my eyes were just playing tricks on me. She told me that if I felt more comfortable, I could sleep with my door closed. That made me feel relieved, if only slightly.

I slept with the door closed for the better part of a week without another incident, and I was beginning to think I must have just been seeing things. I wrote it off. I closed my door, got in bed, and not long after my head hit the pillow, I was asleep. I woke up around four that morning, extremely drowsy. It took me a minute, and then I noticed it. My door was open. All the way. Now, my parents were both heavy sleepers and even if they had come and looked in on me, they would have closed the door behind them. Right? No, that had to be it. And then I felt it. I felt that stare again. I turned my eyes toward the painting, She was staring at me again. Right at me. She turned her head away from me, and whispered to someone over her shoulder. Then after a few seconds she turned back toward me. She smiled. It was not the same smile she had in the painting before. This was much different. Then back over her shoulder, again whispering to some invisible person standing behind her. She laughed. After a few moments she stopped laughing, and quickly turned to stare at me again. But this time she was not smiling, she looked much different.

I was paralyzed. I did the only thing I could think to do. I screamed for my parents. They both jumped out of bed, and ran into my room. I began to babble about the painting. My parents calmed me down and my mom asked me, "Why didn't you sleep with your door closed like we talked about?"

"I did.", I said. They tried to change the subject so that I could unwind and fall asleep. But I was adamant. TAKE THAT PAINTING DOWN. My father obliged and put it in a closet downstairs far from my bedroom. It stayed there until I moved out of the house many, many years later.

But last time I was home to visit my mother, I saw that it was hanging in her room. And as I turned to walk out of the room, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. 

She was staring right at me. 

Written by Leo Francis  

Leo Francis is the founder of The Children of Samhain, as well as a stand up comic and musician (The Spies and The Sonic Absolute). He moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, where he lives with his lovely wife, over a decade ago. Leo considers himself a bit of a horror connoisseur, and thoroughly enjoys the genre in all of its many forms.

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