Kara's point of view. . .

The Uncanny Valley

It took all of two weeks to paint the entire scene, floor to floor, wall to wall in the banquet hall. No one was allowed to watch except my therapist. And even she politely offered to turn her back while I painted. Nevertheless, she watched and waited the outcome like a backseat driver. It was quite obvious that my freedom was a figment of her imagination.

So I painted everything in great detail just the way she wanted it to be. Ostriches with blood stained talons and beaks were standing over two mutilated bodies. Wolves with heroic courage were barking furiously and pushing the Ostriches away from the scene. My own pale face and figure stood in a haunted looking tree line, mouth open with desperate screams.

She loved it. Karen Bristle, my therapist, was in love with that painting. At her request I painted her into the scene as well, as the driver of the get-away car that saved me at the last moment.

And yet, I painted every detail in such a way that a few hours of work would allow me to alter the whole thing to portray the real truth. A change of faces and expressions is almost all it would take. And tonight I would return and make the changes. No one would know until the unveiling. And then. . . and then. . . I wished with all my heart my mother could be there.

Karen helped me cover the finished painting with a long velvet cloth and tape it into place.

“Well, let me drive you home,” she said. “Tomorrow I’ve got a pedicure and an appointment for a trim and highlight to get ready for the unveiling in the evening. So I won’t see you until I come to pick you up. Don’t go anywhere or have any visitors until then. You’re just not ready for that yet. Promise me.”

“Okay, Miss Bristle. I won’t have anybody over or go see anyone.” I promised meekly.

I knew she wouldn’t trust me anyway, but it still bothered me when she rushed ahead into the house and proceeded to lock every door and window, as if someone might try to break in. I stood on the porch, sighing and rubbing my temples.

“Get inside!” she barked at me, “you can never be too safe, in your condition.” I had hardly just closed the door behind me when the doorbell rang. We both gasped in surprise. Who could possibly have come to visit me?

“I’ll get it,” we said at the same time, but I was closer to the door and turned to open it before she had a chance.

“Pizza delivery,” said a voice under a bill cap.

“I didn’t—“ I started and then the delivery guy looked up at me. It was Marcus. I almost fainted dead away.

“You ordered pizza?” Karen Bristle asked suspiciously.

“I - I did.” I said, my mind racing to find a way to talk to Marcus. If only he had waited until Karen was gone.

“I plan to eat it later,” I said, stressing the word later, “so I don’t have to go out at all until you pick me up tomorrow,” I explained without turning around. My therapist was edging in beside me, trying to get a look at Marcus.

“Kyle Lee?” She asked, sniffing as she read his ID tag. “That name sounds familiar.”

My eyes were full of tears and spilling over. Marcus handed me a receipt pad and said simply,

“Sign your name, please.”

On the receipt pad he had written, “I’m leaving the city tonight. Will you come with me?”

“Where did you get that nasty scratch?” Miss Bristle asked irritably. “Look at me when I talk to you, young man.”

I thought of the painting, and the way I had left it. I couldn’t leave it like that. Everyone would think it was the truth. I had to stay long enough to change it. I absolutely had to.

Mrs Bristle was edging forward and sniffing Marcus’s uniform. There was no time. So I wrote the only thing I could write in the three seconds I had available to me.

“Not yet.”