Monthly Chapter: June 2021 – Chapter 17

On the first of the month a new chapter is posted from an as yet to be released book. The current book is Tansy Moves In. This is the first book of the upcoming Oak Hill Series.

Chapter 17

June

Tansy stared at the sheep.  It stood there sniffing the floor tiles as though confused as to where the grass went. The bell jingled dully and Tansy heard a great rushing in her hears as though she held seashells to each of her ears in an attempt to listen to the ocean. 

The sheep looked up at her.  The look was somehow accusing as though the sheep expected Tansy was the one who removed the grass.  The ship stepped forward, walking towards Tansy. It stepped out of the shadows an into the full sunlight pouring through the large window looking into the back garden. The sheep bleated and then as it stepped fully into the light, there was a popping sound, ;like a cork ejecting from a champagne bottle. 

The sheep exploded. 

Tansy gasped as something wet slapped onto her skin.  She blinked expecting to see blood and viscera coating the kitchen.  Instead she saw bits of black and gray and white liquid laying in pools and dripping down the walls and window panes.  She took a deep breath and smelled oil paint.  The scent was strong.  Tansy looked at her hand where a black splodge decorated her skin.  She lifted her hand to her nose and sniffed.

Oil paint. 

Tansy lowered her hand and looked towards the oil painting.  Another sheep was staring back at her, it’s steps slowly meandering towards the frame as though it too would step out of the canvas and into the living room.

“Oh no,” Tansy said.  She swallowed hard.  “Total concentration.” She thought of the book and grit her teeth.  She took a deep breath inhaling the scent of oil paints.  The sheep took another few steps towards her, growing.

‘Focus,’ she ordered herself.  She could hear the bleating of the sheep, the tinkling of their little bells and the wood creaking as the windmill turned. “Stay still,” Tansy commanded.  “You are just paint on canvas.”  She put everything she had into believing it.  The sheep slowed it’s progress as though suddenly unsure if it wanted to step out of the frame after all.  The turning of the windmill slowed as though the wind turning it was dying down.

“No,” Tansy reminded herself.  “Not as though the wind is dying down, but because it is just paint and painted windmills don’t turn.”

The windmill creaked to a halt, stopping its movements.  The grass stopped waving and the sheep turned its head away from her lowered its mouth to the grass and froze in place.  It was no more than paint on canvas once again. 

Tansy let out a shaky sigh that sounded like a half hysterical laugh.  The paint dripped off of the window sill.

“Right I should get that cleaned up before it dries,” Tansy decided.  She lifted a shaky hand to her face, meaning to push her hair back, but saw the paint and dropped her hand instead.  “I need to get me cleaned up as well.”

Tansy felt shaky as she moved to the cupboard under the sink where Eunice kept her cleaning rags.  Tansy took them out and decided that the window was the most important place to start.  She Began clearing the still wet paint from the glass.  The glass felt cool under the rag she used to wipe off the paint.  Despite being only early afternoon, Tansy found her eyes drooping.  Her limps were achy as though she had been exercising heavily and her head felt oddly as though it was stuffed with wool.

Tansy thought of the sheep.  “Cotton,” she corrected.  “Stuffed with cotton.”

She thought of how the ship looked at her just before it exploded.  “Like it wanted an explanation.”

Tansy shook off the thought and worked faster, trying to get all of the paint off before it could dry.  She managed the windows and the woodwork and started on the tiles.  As she approached where the painting was propped up, Tansy accidentally knocked it over so that it was face down on the floor and the back side of the painting was visible.  To her surprise there was writing on it. 

Wanting to make sure the paint was gone before it dried.  Tansy ignored it to finish her cleaning.  When she was the only thing in the kitchen still covered with paint, Tansy circled back to the painting.  Even though she managed to get the painting to stop moving, Tansy was much more comfortable with the back side of it than the front.

On the back, written in a neat hand was the title “Alexander and Two Dozen of his Finest Sheep.” Oil on Canvas 1832.

Tansy frowned.  It didn’t look like there were two dozen sheep in the painting and There certainly hadn’t been anyone who could be referred to as Alexander.  “Unless they start naming windmills.”

The rest of the writing provided clues as to the smaller about of sheep.  Under the title was the line ‘Two sheep lost, May, 1836. – Marcus MacDougal.’

Below that, Frances MacDougal reported loosing another one in 1841. The lines continued down, each member of the MacDougal Line reporting losing one or more of the sheep.  “Except for William,” Tansy read.  “He apparently lost Alexander in 1902.”

Tansy wondered if like her sheep the others exploded in full sunlight. “I’m glad I didn’t lose Alexander,” Tansy decided.  Bracing herself, Tansy turned the painting upwards and looked at the painting again.  The windmill gave an ominous creak.

“No,” she said firmly, staring at hit hard.  It stopped moving and became paint once more. Tansy propped the painting up against the edge of the kitchen island, placing it where the full sun fell directly on the canvas.  She hoped that if nothing else the sun would keep anything from emerging while she went off to wash herself and change clothing.

Making certain that she wasn’t dripping paint on anything, Tansy left the kitchen behind and walked into the hallway. She went upstairs, gathered fresh clothing and made her way to the bathroom.  The clothes she put on to look respectable at the bank that morning were a dead loss.  They were now paint spattered and looked as though she spent a load of time using them as working around the house clothing.  She suspected that getting them clean would require soaking them in turpentine.  She wasn’t certain what the turpentine would do to the clothing though. 

In the bathroom she disrobed carefully, so that paint did not get on the tiles.  She rolled the clothing up into a ball feeling a little bit as though she was concealing a crime.  “It’s just paint,” she reminded herself. “Not bloodstains.” 

Tansy left the ball on the tiles and stepped into the shower.  She used the hottest water the shower had, along with exfoliating scrubs and brushes, but she finally managed to get all of the paint off of her skin and hair.  By the time she emerged from the shower, the water was no more than tepid and she felt rubbed raw.  In addition, Tansy was having a hard time keeping her eyes open.  She yawned hugely and felt her jaw crack.  Once dressed in loose cotton lounge pants and a t-shirt, Tansy returned to her bedroom.  She yawned and decided a nap might not be such a bad idea.

“Just a few minutes,” she told herself sleepily.  Tansy lay down on top of her covers and closed her eyes.  In seconds she was asleep. 

At some point, Tansy rolled over and pulled the blankets over herself to cover her, but other than that, she didn’t move until morning.

As early morning light began sliding through the windows, Tansy stirred.  Her body was sore as though she spent the night locked in the same position.  She managed to pull the edge of the comforter over herself, but she spent the night on top of the bed instead of in it. She tossed the cover off and stretched.  She felt several satisfying pops from within her spine and slowly stood.  The bed was rumpled, but still made.  She smoothed over the comforter and the bed once again looked freshly made. 

Tansy moved to the bathroom, relieved herself and looked over her appearance.  There were shadows under her eyes but she couldn’t see any more paint splotches on wither her skin or hair.  Even though it was early, she washed her face, brushed her hair and got dressed. 

She knew the painting was still waiting for her in the kitchen.  “Right,” Tansy said. “Total concentration.”

She made her way downstairs and into the kitchen.  The early morning didn’t provide much illumination so Tansy turned on the overhead lights. She found that there were a few drops of paint she missed, but over all had done a pretty good job cleaning up the day before.  There wasn’t much sunlight coming in through the windows yet so Tansy braced herself before stepping in front of the painting. She thought she saw the windmill twitch, but wasn’t sure.  As it had no movement after the twitch, she thought she might have imagined it. 

The sheep remained stationary.

Tansy took a deep breath and looked away from the painting. “Coffee,” She said.  Tansy walked to the pot and put the grounds on to brew.  When she was donre, she looked back at the painting.  There wasn’t even a twitch.  She put some oatmeal on to boil and while it simmered,  She stepped back and looked at the painting again. 

It remained a motionless painting.

Slowly the tension insider her eased and she stopped clenching her teeth so hard.  As she prepared breakfast, Tansy periodically stopped and looked at the painting.  It remained stationary as she cooked, ate and cleaned up from breakfast.

Once she was certain she could keep the painting from moving, Tansy thought about her day.  She had brought a work outfit with her so that she could, if she wanted, stay over Sunday and attempt a Monday morning commute.  She thought of the workroom hidden in the center of the house and the rooms full of paintings just waiting to move.  She thought of burgling lawyers and inquisitive bankers.

‘Perhaps going back to the apartment before something else happens might be a good idea,” she decided.

“Plus if any of the bill boards move, I’d rather see them move when I have all of Sunday to get home rather than when I am trying to get to work on Monday morning.” She took another look at the painting.  It stayed still. She thought about the back of the painting.

“And if you continue to stay still, I’ll add my name and the fact that I lost one sheep to the back of the painting as well.”

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