Short Story: The Portal behind the Portrait

“Is the breakfast ready?” questioned a thin embittered voice of James on one early morning while he was busily scrutinizing a white shirt to ensure it was free from wrinkles. The wrinkles, however, protested against this inquisition and manifested themselves in the tainted accents of his expression. Emily, his girlfriend, had known the cause of his discontent and sympathized with him.

James had tirelessly tried to bury this visible injury caused by his mother’s untimely demise but so far achieved a little in this direction. Wearing the uniform as prescribed by the terms of employment and following the beaten routines were a part of this strategy; however James remained unsatisfied with its inefficacy. He had been living in this city for a while after moving there initially with the purpose to distract him from the sad occurrence of his widowed mother’s death. His father died when he was only three. She bravely fought the severity of a prolonged pulmonary illness for nearly five long painful years. The doctors had confirmed that the chances of her survival were scant as the disease had reached an advanced stage. It was beyond help or treatment. Despite it all James entertained a vague hope of seeing his mother recover and return to normal life once again. But all was in vain.

This cursed event had been hovering above James and his mother for a while like a beast lurking in the dark evincing its menacing grimace. Prior to this tragedy, James had been occupied with the study of English Literature. He had been bitten by the germ of inspiration at an early age and had been lured by the Muses of Mount Parnassus. He even considered pursuing the toilsome and mostly lonesome vocation of a writer. He went on to win a local short-story competition for young writers and attracted attention of renowned writers for realist depictions. But the young tender tree was shaken with one fell blow of fate. The death of his mother, which James believed to be unfair and untimely, diverted his focus. He was torn apart. James sought to leave the town as it constantly reminded him of his loss and filled him with a sense of dread. But it wasn’t a solution as the new city emanated an aura of indifference and appeared belligerent.

Not long after on one Sunday, James was aimlessly wandering through the city. The day was dismal and cloudy as it had rained the night before. Suddenly, he felt tired and stopped to have a drink of water. He sat on a bench by the street while on the opposite side of the street stood an impressive Cathedral. Quite carelessly, he started to ponder this majestic structure with its tall spires reaching for the sun, its stately outlook reminiscent of ages gone by. He felt warmth wafting from the building. Something invisible stirred inside him.

The historical aspect of the city piqued his interest and he discovered that this facet held something in common with his inner solemnity. He was particularly attached to ancient buildings. The study of which, roused by the feelings of reverence, he pursued enthusiastically. He felt there was a sort of hidden communication between him and these monuments, an inner dialogue which relieved him of his burden. By degrees he came out of his gloom. The festering wound began to heal. The grief metamorphosed.

– Harry @Misao

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