A Perfect Portrait (Part 1)

It was only when Alex finished unpacking his few possessions that he noticed the painting.

His room was relatively plain. The walls were painted cream and the hardwood floors were thoroughly scuffed.  It had a bed, a desk, a bedside table with drawers and a wardrobe. He remembered those from his hurried inspection of the room a week ago, but he did not remember the painting.

The wooden frame appeared was the same colour as the rest of the furniture in the room and it sat so flush against the wall when he inspected it that Alex concluded it was glued in place.

What was particularly odd was the subject matter. It was a painting of a plain room with a chair off to one side. The room pictured had green carpet and a faded wallpaper design made of yellow flowers and white stripes and grey stripes. For a prominent painting, it was incredibly boring, except for how real it looked. As the sun set through the window, he could swear he saw the shadow of the chair shifting to match the time. It was only when he found himself leaning closer, straining to see the painting that he realised his room had grown dark without him noticing. He quickly put the light on and shook his head, wondering how he could let time get away from him like that. He sat back on his new bed, which felt much sturdier than his last. Like all the furniture included in the room, it was built into the wall. He suspected that might be why the painting was stuck to the wall – maybe the landlord had a problem with theft?

She had seemed nice enough when she showed him the room. Not that there was much of a tour. It was a cheap room, and the shared bathroom was down the hall. He did remember seeing some items that must have been the previous tenant’s. Some clothes left on the floor, a hairbrush on the bedside table and a pair of shoes besides the door. The landlord had kicked the latter under the desk and continued without a sign she’d even noticed, so Alex had taken his queue from that. He did however ask if the stain in the carpet could be removed before he moved in, which the agent assured him it would be. Something in that thought bothered him and he found himself staring intently into space as something dawned on him. This room didn’t have any carpet. He found himself staring at the floor to confirm it and felt confused for a minute as he stared at his own feet atop the hardwood floor. After a moment, the panic resided and he felt like an idiot. The landlord must have had the carpet removed instead of having the carpet cleaned or replaced. That made sense.

He rubbed his eyes, and groaned in frustration at how ridiculous he now felt. He let his eyes refocus slowly, finding himself staring at the painting again. Something about it struck him as odd, but he was suddenly so tired from the move. As his heart rated settled, Alex fell asleep atop the covers with the light still on.



Alex awoke surprisingly early the next morning. He suspected that it was the extra light, from both the window and the overhead light he had left on. It certainly wasn’t because he had rested enough – he felt like he’d barely slept at all.

He switched off the light, thanking his luck that electricity was included. He grabbed his room key and toiletries from atop the desk and headed to the bathroom. He didn’t see anyone while he did his business and as he headed back to his room, he realised he hadn’t heard anyone else in the block. He presumed his might be the first up, as he did start work rather early.

After putting on his work uniform and shoes, Alex went to grab his wallet from the desk. It wasn’t there. He could have sworn it had been beside his keys only minutes ago, but that didn’t change the fact that it wasn’t there now. Frustrated, he realised that it could now be anywhere after the move. He was at least sure he’d had it in his new room but he didn’t have time to search for it. He took his keys and left the room.


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