The Girl in the Portrait (Excerpt)

It was a lovely time. Haughty parties with the best orchestras, delicacies from every corner of the world, dapper suits with a ridiculous amount of accessories, fancy dresses with at least ten petticoats. She had a lovely life. At the top of her selfish society, free to bully and ridicule anyone she chose with no consequences.

The party, too, was lovely. Her seventeenth birthday celebration was by far the most extravagant party the small, rich town had ever seen. Everything about the town, the girl, and her party was ideal. She had the kind of life free of hardships that nearly everyone at that time, or anytime, might kill for. And on that lovely night, someone did.


The whole town has forgotten about it. It happened so long ago that the death of the girl who’d lived here before us has been long forgotten. But there is her portrait on the wall of her family’s old mansion, turned into an art museum by my mom. As I stare up at it, I can’t help but wonder what happened to her all those decades ago.

“Lucas? Why are you just staring at that old painting? I know it’s late, but you have to get back to work,” Mom scolds me. I jump. I hadn’t realized she’d been standing there.

“Who is that?” I ask, looking up at the girl’s sleek black hair and narrowed hazel eyes. Mom groans.

“You’ve not heard of her? Honestly, Lucas, I gave you that computer for research. Haven’t you learned anything about your own town?” Mom says, exasperated. “This is Adelaide Bellamy, daughter of Augustus Bellamy. Hopefully, you at least know he founded your new town.”

I look back up at Adelaide, and our eyes seem to meet. “What did she do?”

Mom sighs. “She probably would have married and taken over the town, but… well, she was, uh, murdered when she was your age. You know, I think it happened in the ballroom right over there, but they never found out who did it.”

I stare at her in disbelief. “Wait, so she died in this house? Why didn’t you tell me, Mom?”

How could something so horrible happen to someone like that? Why did it happen? Despite how creepy it is, my curiosity is instantly spiked. Mom just shrugs.

“Because, Luke. You’d constantly be looking for ghosts instead of doing your chores, and we can’t have that, right? Now, go back to work.”

I nod distractedly, turning back to face the portrait. Adelaide’s painted eyes are so alive. It makes the fact that she’s been dead for over a century even more disturbingly intriguing. Such a fascinating color. Who would want to kill someone so pretty?

“Luke!” Mom barks.

I jump. “Jeez, Mom, I’m going. Calm down!” I snap, stalking off to the old ballroom.

I plan to finish cleaning this or hanging that, I really do. But I am too distracted by how someone died in this very room. I sit on the stage, wondering exactly what had happened. There had probably been a party or gala. I can almost see Adelaide dancing around the shiny marble floor.

“Lucas! Honestly, I know you’re tired, but we’ve gotta get this place open tomorrow! Stop. Thinking. About. Adelaide.” Mom yells, snapping her fingers in front of me. I blink a few times and realize Mom has probably been standing there for a while.

“What are you talking about?” I ask, going over to straighten a frame. “I am not thinking about the dead girl. I’m working!”

She sighs. “Yeah, yeah. If you are doing it now, I suppose it’s alright.” Mom grumbles.

For the rest of the night, I go around the rooms with her and clean everything. Before I go to bed, I take one last glance at Adelaide.

“What happened to you?” I mutter.

She stares at me, silent and still.


5 thoughts on “The Girl in the Portrait (Excerpt)”

  1. This is a special honor for an aspiring author. Aya is exhibiting mature literary skills at such a young age. I hope she will continue to hone her craft as I look forward to reading more of her published works.

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