It would be boy meets girl but I really don't do romance so it's girl discovers scary evil painting that trys to steal her soul =)
There is a painting in the furthest, darkest corner of an art gallery somewhere in London. A painting with no name and no known artist. He is watching, he is waiting, in the silence…
I had tried a few times to find work, but I never really found a place where I was comfortable. Bookshops or libraries were the best but they were still poorly suited; I’m not very good with people. Not that it’s my fault at all; I just don’t find them very accommodating. I’m deaf and used to become somewhat frustrated with people who think I’m stupid because of that. They often try talking to me very slowly with massively over elongated vowels, like you might a foreign person who doesn’t know much of your language. I got lots of “caan yoou heelp mee” or “dooo yoou knoow wheere the maaanager is” That just made me angry; they didn’t ever understand my shouting at them in sign though, so they just walked away. That was always more aggravating than them acting as if I was stupid. I probably drove away more customers than I helped in those jobs, but it was their own fault for being so ignorant!
Like I said, I don’t do well with customer service. So when the job opened up for a night manager at the local art gallery I was all over it, what could be better for a deaf girl than a job that doesn’t require them to talk to anybody or listen to anybody. No idiots, no trying to understand what they want me to do for them. Just me being me, no pressure. I live in silence; it seems logical for me to work in silence. I figured that it was a pretty easy ride, sitting about from 8 till 4, drinking coffee, looking after a bunch of musty old paintings. I could see myself doing some reading while I was there, getting through all those classics that everyone says you should read but you just never have the time. Or maybe using the nights to study some exotic new subject that I never had the chance to pick up at college, I had always liked the thought of learning to read something like Latin. I would essentially have my evenings to myself, just sitting in a gallery rather than at home. It wasn’t a lot different to my usual life and I was getting paid to do it. What could be wrong with that?
Mother wasn’t all that pleased when I told her about the position. “It’s just too solitary Lila, you will never get to see anyone if you sleep the days away and spend all of your time at night alone with a load of old paintings.”
“Mother” I signed back to her, “what if I like the fact that I don’t have to spend time with people? It’s not like I will miss thebrilliantconversations with people who want to buy books!”
“Lila come on, you know that people are not deliberately rude to you, they just struggle to talk to you when you’re so against even being around them.”
“I do not have a problem being around them, I have a problem when they treat me like an idiot. Look Ma, we’ve been though this before, I don’t want to keep having the same argument.”
“Well regardless of the people, what’s the future of the job hmm? Is there any chance of promotion or even a pay rise? It doesn’t seem like there would be…”
“I make more money there than I did working for you, even without a pay rise, so I’m not worried about being able to live. Can’t you just accept it Ma? Please?” That ended the argument. She really has no idea what it’s like to live my life. I don’t like to complain, I’m lucky to be alive at all, but like all the other ‘normal’ people in the world she takes her hearing for granted. She can never understand that I live in solitude, in silence. I have become accustomed to it; thankfully I was a child when it happened so I don’t much miss my hearing. Yes I can read and write, and I can sign, but it will never be quite the same as having a real conversation. There is no connection with anyone else. I spent my entire life alone so it seemed sensible to work that way, alone, in the darkness, in the silence. Paintings do not judge; they do not communicate. They are deaf, mute. Just like me.
My first day went entirely as it should have. An old man who smelled like dust and cabbage showed me around. He was pretty good about making sure I understood him, though communication was difficult as he had no comprehension of sign, and I cannot speak. Initially he didn’t grasp the fact that over exaggerating every single letter when he spoke to me he actually made it harder to read his lips, though it was difficult to understand him even once he stopped doing that, some people are just not clear speakers. I eventually persuaded him to just write the instructions down for me. He showed me the main galleries of which there were three, the door to the storage in the basement, the tiny staff kitchen where I could drink as much coffee as I liked so long as I added to the coffee fund, and the single locker. He wrote that every evening I was to check that all the doors and windows were locked, then give the floors a quick sweep though they rarely got really dirty, and he finally wrote that only one room was to be lit. The gallery couldn’t apparently afford anything more than that. I accepted it without question, though looking back it was a really strange rule. They were paying me to sit about with the lights on, but if I wasn’t there none of the rooms would need to be lit and I wouldn’t be being payed so the gallery would save money. I understand the need for security but having a guard seems something like overkill, not only that but what use would I be during a break in, I wouldn’t hear them coming anyway! I just didn’t think about it, all I wanted was the job.
My only other task was to keep a record of the nights events. If anything happened I was to write it down in the logbook. Nobody ever checked the books, and once they were full it appeared that they were thrown into storage and never looked at again, but I still had to write in one daily. No matter what, he made that quite clear. I again didn’t see much point but I thought it best not to argue. There were logbooks going back over 50 years in the storage room. I can imagine every entry is exactly the same. ‘Came on shift, locked up, walked about a bit, had a cuppa, went home.’ There’s nothing more that could happen overnight in a locked art gallery. I thought of flicking through some of them while sat at the desk, but decided it would be a bit too boring a way to spend my time. For my first log I wrote:
“First day on the job. Name: Lila Age: 21 Date: 04/03/2014. Been given the tour and the complementary torch. Having a cup of black coffee. Waiting for something to happen. All doors and windows locked. Silence.”
That summed it all up. That was my job. Sitting, in the darkness.