Ryan’s eye was swollen. His leg hurt and it made it hard for him to stand. He decided to sleep instead. Many of his paintings and drawings were missing and scattered on the floor, which was typical. Uncle John always took his best pieces and left the rest, like a pig that only ate caviar. He thought it was strange that the nude he had painted was destroyed and left on the makeshift easel. He had seen Uncle John punch hole in it with his fist. The delicate stretched canvas was torn like the ends of a popped balloon.
“Sorry,” she said repeatedly.
He didn’t know Uncle John would do that to him. He placed his hands on the bars of his new caged room and stared at his art supplies across the room far from his reach.
He cried in secret as he sat on his cot. Uncle John returned, his face was red and he took a willing Sam upstairs. “Sorry,” Ryan said after she had left the room. She returned, her head hung with shame.
She looked at him and they stared at each other for what felt like hours until the bulb that swung had flickered and then died. He was sure she couldn’t see him lip the words “I love you”. He tried to see her in the dark and when he realized he couldn’t, he pretended he could. He imagined her smiling, happy to see him. He saw her beauty for what it really was – a work of art.
“Sam,” he said.
“Yeah,” she responded.
“Let me tell you what will happen to you. And maybe if I’m lucky he’ll do it to me too,” he said.
Next: Piece 8