The Spot Without Grass - #Writephoto

The Spot Without Grass - #Writephoto

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I walked through the lush green pathway lined with trees on either side. I looked up to see the branches of the trees jutting out to form a thick panorama above my head. I stopped midway to observe the circular bit of earth where there was no grass. It was funny that in the entire pathway no grass grew on that bit of land alone. For some reason I could not understand, I did not want to step on that part of the pathway. It gave me the creeps. I stepped around it carefully preferring to keep to the grassy bits.

Funny the way grass never grew on that spot, I thought to myself. I was not a man who believed in the supernatural. I was a geneticist who believed that every phenomenon in this world had a natural explanation. In the distance, I could see the hedge lining the garden of my villa. I had bought the villa a month ago at an auction. There was some talk about the villa being haunted to which I had paid scant attention. 

The tale went that the last occupant of the villa was a failed painter couple who lived there as recluses. They had put everything their imagination could conjure up into the canvas. It was said that the painter was so dejected when his wife died that he had hanged himself somewhere in the vast lawn surrounding the villa. Since the couple had died, no one who had attempted to live in the villa had been able to do so in peace. Thanks to this spooky tale I had very few competitors at the auction and had managed to outbid everyone very quickly indeed.

I had purchased the villa as I wanted someplace to live quietly in the countryside with my new bride Sheila and to carry on my research work in genetic design in peace. The minute I had set sight on the villa I had decided Sheila would love it. I had made up my mind then and there to buy it at any cost. My research was at the stage when all the years of hard work were about to produce a final result.

The first day I had driven to the villa, which was a week back, my nostrils were assailed by the odor a house emanates when it had not been lived in for a long time. I had gotten the services of a house cleaning company at an exorbitant price and managed to get everything in order. This was my surprise for Sheila. Sheila was forty-two years my junior. She was a young researcher in the field of genetics and I had been her research advisor at MIT. 

We had spent three years as student and teacher before she had professed her love for me on the day she had submitted her Ph.D. thesis. I was outraged as I was sixty-five and she was a mere twenty-three. I had tried to dissuade her but was slowly drawn to her. Soon we had decided on marriage. It was a month since we had been married. After a whirlwind honeymoon to Switzerland, Sheila had left me to visit her parents in the state of Virginia for a month. 

Meanwhile, I had quietly planned this little surprise for her. I walked past the gates of the villa and entered the front door. Today I was planning to examine the cellar. The cleaning company had told me they had gotten everything in order there. But I had never visited the cellar myself. I went down and unbolted the door of the cellar and carefully climbed down the staircase. I found that each and every object in the cellar had something to do with paintings. 

I walked over to a stack of canvases neatly arranged in a corner of the room. I looked through the paintings one by one. Suddenly I drew my breath in sharply. For the painting, I was holding in my hand was that of the pathway lined by trees I had just come through on my way to the villa. Yes, right down to the grass-less bit in the middle of the pathway. I shrugged my shoulders and forgot about it.

The next day I drove Sheila straight from the airport to our villa. 'Why darling! What a lovely surprise!' she exclaimed when I showed her our new house. Soon we settled down in the villa. The days went by happily. We made love, cooked food and planned our life together. One day, we were walking through the pathway and reached the point in it where there had been no grass all these days. To my surprise, I suddenly saw that a few bits and pieces of grass had started sprouting on the spot. I was startled but kept my thoughts to myself.

As soon as we had returned to our villa a thought struck me and I went down to the cellar. I pulled out the painting of the pathway. I drew in my breath sharply. Where there had been no grass in the painting yesterday there were a few pieces of grass similar to what I had seen on the pathway five minutes back. I was puzzled. I did not mention anything to Sheila just in order to avoid worrying her. Sheila had a horror of the supernatural.

The days went by in absolute bliss. As our happiness in each other's company grew, the grass on the pathway grew. So did the grass in the painting. In a month the entire pathway was filled with grass. The painting too reflected the reality. Two months had gone by in absolute bliss. I was puzzled and a shade apprehensive by this strange phenomenon but I let sleeping dogs lie. I would investigate it in good time. My scientific mind still believed that there was a rational explanation for even something as inexplicable as this.

The next week, on Saturday evening, Sheila drove to a town, two hundred miles away. She wanted to spend a day with a friend who was passing by on her way to Kansas. She promised me that she would be back on Monday morning. Sunday dawned bright and sunny. I finished my breakfast and moved to the cellar to begin my investigation. I pulled out the painting which was the source of the mystery. Suddenly I stood rooted to the spot. To my horror, I could once again see the bit at the center of the pathway and there was no grass on it.

The phone shrilled loudly in the hall. I rushed out of the cellar into the hall and picked up the phone and said, 'Hello.'

A voice came from the other end sounding terse, 'Mr. Richard Havenscroft?' 

'Yes, speaking,' I said.

'I am afraid I have some bad news for you. Your wife died in a car crash last night.'

Shell-shocked I dropped the phone. Like a man in a dream, I slowly moved through the front door and through the front gate into the lawn. My feet automatically took me towards the pathway lined with the trees. I came to the edge of the pathway. Just like the painting I had seen a few minutes back, there was no grass in the circular spot again. Just above the spot, there was a noose hanging from the branch of a tree. Placed conveniently below it was a small stool. Like a man in a trance, I walked towards the stool.    

Written for #writephoto hosted by Sue Vincent

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