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The Portrait

Gypsy Shadow Publishing

Heat Rating: No Rating
Word Count: 4,500
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Karen is a young and semi-talented art student attending her first summer at an overnight camp for talented youth. Her first day at school seems to be going well, especially when she meets her roommate, Cypress Myers, a unique portrait artist. But, as Karen gets to know Cypress she realizes there is something strange about her roommate. Her roommate’s talent for drawing may be inspired by a certain innate mystical ability with deadly results.


My parents shipped me off to art camp for the summer, but didn’t expect me to return with my head wrapped in bandages, burned with an eternal fear that two intrusive eyes were following my every move. Those eyes would continue to haunt me for as long as I lived.

Five years after the incident, I still had not recovered. I took a seat on the psychiatrist’s couch.

“Are you comfortable?” he asked.

I nodded, glancing above him at the ceiling.

He turned and looked. “You see it now?”

I nodded.

He wrote a few notes on a pad of paper. “Why don’t you take a deep breath and tell me exactly what happened. Just start from the beginning.”

I needed to tell someone my story, even if he was a shrink and might send me off to the loony bin. At least someone would know the fear I had been experiencing every waking moment. I took a deep breath and began. Within just a few seconds I found myself remembering five years ago like it was yesterday.

I had just turned sixteen and because of some stupid flower picture I drew in art class, my mother was convinced I had some kind of talent.

Despite my protests, she sent me to the Western Arizona Summer Arts College. I arrived on the first day of camp at precisely eleven in the morning, meeting up with dozens of other students on the campus’s main quadrangle.

The counselor, a perky woman with a fabulous tan and three paintbrushes sticking out of the front pocket of her oversized overalls, handed out folders as she greeted everyone. “Welcome, I’m so excited you chose our camp to spend your summer. You are going to learn so much while you are here. Please find your roommate and room assignment.”

I flipped open my folder and saw my roommate’s name. “Cypress Myers,” I said aloud as I attached my nametag to my shirt.

A minute later, the camp counselor appeared before me. “Karen? This is Cypress.”

Cypress extended her hand. “Nice to meet you, Karen.” She had wavy, fiery red hair, bright green eyes, and a cute off the shoulder black blouse paired with skinny jeans and cowboy boots.

I shook her hand. “Nice to meet you.”

She flashed a smile while taking a long look at me. I hoped she wouldn’t be too critical of my appearance. I had just thrown on a simple pair of jeans and a Gap t-shirt, my brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, only a few minutes before arriving.

“Should we go find our room?” she asked.

“Sure,” I agreed, following her.

We pulled our luggage through the adobe archways, passing several other students.

“This is us,” she said, unlocking the door.

The room was small. Just two beds with a side table between. There was a desk on each side and a small bathroom with a shower off to the right.

Once we were settled in, I reached into my backpack, pulled out my iPod and headphones and laid down.

Cypress came over and sat by my feet. I pulled them up to my chest.

“Do you like to be alone?” she asked.

“Yeah, well, not all the time, but sometimes,” I said glancing at the sketchpad she had in her hand. “Can I take a look?” I asked.

“Of course.” She opened it.

Her work was amazing. The realism in her sketches reminded me of Degas or Eakins. In one drawing, a man reclined on a deck chair on the beach. In the second, a child perched high up in a tree reading a book. In the third, a young woman sat on a park bench feeding the birds. Each portrait was so lifelike and natural.

“These are amazing,” I said handing back her drawings.

“Thanks,” she said. “How about yours?”

I cringed, thinking about showing her a bunch of half-drawn flowers. “Well, I’m still learning the basics, so I don’t really have a lot to show yet.”

“Oh, I understand,” she said moving back to her bed. “So, what class are you taking?”

“Nature drawing.”


“How about you?” I asked.

“Figure drawing. I hear we get to see a naked guy in the class. Sounds fun, huh?”

I perked up. “Really? How do I switch to that class?”

She laughed. Just then, there was a knock at the door and in walked the camp counselor.

“Sounds like you guys are having fun in here.”

Cypress and I smiled at each other.

“Great, well, just wanted to let you know that lunch is being served in the cafeteria in ten minutes and then right after, you go to your first class.”

“Shall we?” she asked.

“Let’s go,” I said, jumping off the bed.