Ryan Scott

The Gift
“When did you buy that?”
“I didn’t.”
“It’s a gift.”
“Not from…?”
“Came today.”
“But it’s fucking – I mean really – It’s totally fucking – gorgeous.”
“I mean I knew she could paint but this…this is…”
“I know.”
“Oh shit.”
“My thoughts exactly.”
“So what will you do?”
“She’s your friend.”
“It’s our Christmas present.”
“But -”
“Your name is on the card, too.”
“Yes, but you’re so much more diplomatic than me.”
“I’d say you were being diplomatic now.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I’m not saying anything to her.”
“Why does it have to be so good? It’s not fair. I mean who gives a painting like this as a gift?”
“She is a painter.”
“I’m a fitness instructor. Since when do I – you know – never.”
“It’s different. This is personal. She’s really worked on this. You can see it.”
“Can we say we just don’t want it?”
“Are you nuts?”
“We’ll say there’s no room.”
“Be serious. You can't return this. No one could return this.”
“Jesus, she painted it especially for this place. It even matches the furniture in a weird way.”
“And the light.”
“And...come here. Come over here. See that? Did you notice that?”
“I wept when I saw it. I’ve been alone with it for an hour or more. I was staring at it through tears.”
“You should’ve called. I would’ve come.”
“It was already too late.”
“We could sell it. It is ours.”
“Absolutely not. We're not barbarians. We don't just grind a problem down to a price.”
“It would at least prove to her how much it’s worth. It’s not like we’re going to stick it in the cupboard. Though…”
“It won’t fit. Besides, I’ll know it’s there. It would be like we had a prisoner. A child. Her child. I'd hear it. I'd hear her.”
“We could buy it. Once we buy it, it will be ours to do with what we want. Then we sell it. Listen. Stop shaking your head. We sell it, and we take her out somewhere really nice. Like that Moroccan café she likes.”
“That’s your worst idea yet.”
“Well what do you suggest? We can’t leave it, hey, did you notice that?”
“How did she work that in there?”
“How much time did she spend on this?”
“Stop it. Stop that now. I know what’s going to happen.”
“I know what you’re doing and you can stop it.”
“What am I doing?”
“Don’t pretend that you’re on her side, so I’ll have to tell her.”
“I said I agree with you.”
“There’s a tone in your voice. You use it when you have lunch with my parents. Your voice is aural caramel. You practically twist it out on your fingers as you speak to get everyone on your side.”
“What if we say it was stolen?”
“Burglars. Why not? Even burglars can see it’s worth something.”
“She would be flattered – in a way.”
“Sure she would.”
“Would we have to – you know – the place?”
“It’s not for the cops or insurance.”
“I think she’d notice.”
“She would notice.”
“She noticed that enough to incorporate it into the picture.”
“Right. We’d have to say some other things were stolen.”
“Jewellery. Your laptop.”
“We’ll say insurance replaced it.”
“Replaced your old laptop with another old laptop?”
“I was planning on getting a new one.”
“How did they get in?”
“Jimmied the door.”
“I could do something to the handle. But if we’re going to go to all this effort, maybe we should tell the cops and insurance. Don't look at me like that. It was just a suggestion. So what do we do with the painting?”
“We’ll destroy it.”
“Are you serious?”
“There’s no other choice. I said we can't hide it. I'd know where it was. I'd always think about it.”
“Okay. okay…how?”
“We'll burn it.”
“Burn it?”
“It's the only way to get rid of the evidence.”
“It seems kind of fitting. Like a sacrifice. I mean if we're going to destroy a painting it should be by fire. No other way would be acceptable. I mean we should probably even say something before we consign it to the flames. You're good at that. You could write something about how we feel and why despite the brilliance of the painting it cannot exist. In fact, you could write exactly that that painting is too good to exist.”
“If it would make you feel better.”
“Or I could just do it now in the garage. It should only take a few minutes.”

Ryan Scott lives in the Czech Republic. His poetry and prose have appeared in Overland, Shampoo, Indigo and the New Writer among others. He keeps a blog called Vaguely Quotable [http://vaguelyquotable.wordpress.com/].
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