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  • Writer's pictureRoshni Pai

FRAMED

I sat in the centre of the art gallery, alone and content. Circumscribed by art on all sides, I pondered gleefully. Reflecting on the week that went by, I thought of every moment that went by. Then I thought of Robin. We didn’t get along very well, but when it came to art, we both knew that was our forte. We shared the appreciation for the craft of storytelling through paintings, and it felt like we understood something about the painting no one else ever did.

I stared at the massive painting in front of me. It flaunted a vintage restaurant, and a pianist who sat by his piano, with a spotlight shining on him. In the dim background sat hordes of customers. Some of them were visibly richer than the others, they held their chins up with a sense of superiority. The ground was notably filthy and the air was incredibly dense with smoke from cigarettes and the smell of closely packed humanity. The pianist seemed to be the binding force for the crowd, possibly the only reason anyone ever visited the restaurant. However, what made the painting unbearably ghoulish was that the pianist sat with his face tilted away from the painter, from his white shirt leaked out blood, shown by the bright red strokes that the painter made impossible to overlook. Surrounding him the crowd rose up with aggression and concern, violently pushing and yelling as though the life was being sucked out of them too.


I couldn’t stop staring at the painting, it was all so bizarre. I shifted my glance to the frame of the painting. Now, that was intricately designed. That, too, seemed to be a striking part of the masterpiece, it was thick and bold as though proclaiming itself worthy of enclosing it.

I had often attempted to delve into a painting by imagining myself inside it. It would be those moments of transcendence when I would truly understand the painting. I took a deep breath and concentrated further till my vision was only limited to the painting. I shrieked as the glass covering the painting shattered and my body was overcome by a feeling of discomfort. I began to repulse the force that was drawing me into the painting but it was too strong to fight. I heard a faint drumroll that became quicker and louder as I progressed into the painting, the last beat was the loudest and most clear, it rang in my ears. I had been lightly dropped off on the ground in front of the restaurant in the painting. I touched the frame of the restaurant door; it was identical to the frame of the painting. I gasped when the door flung open automatically, I could hear my heels screech against the filthy floor as I repelled the force drawing me in. I was brought right next to the pianist, who turned his head towards me and I recognized his face, it was Robin.

The atmosphere made it hard to breathe, I giddily leaned against the piano for support. After Robin had completed the piece, the people started cheering, hooting and sobbing in disbelief at the beauty of his music which was all inaudible to me. Never had I witnessed such dedicated listeners of music. Robin then turned to me, and our eyes locked. He started playing a few melodious notes, the entire crowd began whispering and gawking at me, possibly out of envy that I was known to him. I jerked up in realisation that all attention was on me now. Robin handed me a beautiful black rose as he looked into my eyes. He began playing a piece that the crowd seemed to not have heard before; they all began to listen intently. It started off smooth and subtle and tingled my ears. As the song advanced to the chorus, it picked up more rhythm and momentum. I could see why the crowd was so fond of him, he could express himself in a way others could only dream of. I had a premonition that a disaster was lurking around the corner. My heart began to race with the increasing pace of the song. The tune became more ludicrous by the moment. It reached such a high decibel at the chorus that my head began to throb and I thought to myself “if Catastrophe were ever to compose a song - this would be it.”

Just then, Robin’s shirt began to rip, there were three perfect circles in his shirt from which blood began to ooze out. I looked up at the crowd to see if they had noticed too, they were all howling and weeping yet inaudible to me, I could only hear the turbulent music being played by Robin. I looked back down to see Robin slamming his fingers into the piano keys while blood continued to now pour out of his body until his face fell flat on the piano board. I looked up at the furious crowd, that unanimously raised their fingers and pointed at my hand where in place of the black flower, I saw a gun. My jaw dropped.

This was impossible, I shuddered I was positive I hadn’t done that… and yet, here I was, gun in hand. My thoughts were battling for recollection of what happened. No, I hadn’t done that, there was no way.

I looked back at the crowd, bracing myself for what was to follow. They were hungry animals, ready to pounce on their prey. I stepped back, desperate to run out of the door the next second, when the whole room began to sway and the light of the chandelier became fluorescent. I grasped the door knob in panic, but it wouldn’t budge. The crowd got out of their seats and encircled me. As they walked closer, I could hear a faint drumroll gain speed with every step the crowd took towards me. The drumroll hit one sonorous note.

I snapped up from the wooden chair to return to the deafening silence of the art gallery. My palms were sweaty and my head throbbed so much it was hard to think straight. I sprinted towards the morbid painting with the little strength I had left. There I saw the pianist - Robin, who was facing me now. He smirked villainously. I couldn’t help but shed a tear. I had been framed.

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