Grant Howett had lived a long and happy life. His wife, Margot, had passed away some time ago and his kids were all grown up with their own families.
He’d become a professional funeral goer as one by one his friends moved on to the other side, it felt like each week someone else kicked the bucket and Grant had to brush off his black suit and head over to the cemetery.
His life had become a routine of the mundane, get up, get dressed, have breakfast, watch TV, read a book, have dinner, watch TV, go to bed, rinse and repeat. He was patiently waiting for his turn, for the day he would need to be dressed by someone else in a black suit and placed into the box that his body would spend the rest of its time in.
One morning he arose from his bed to the sun streaming into his room and decided enough was enough. Why should he wait for deaths cold grip to tighten on his shoulder, he was determined to enjoy the rest of his days, go out on his terms. Grabbing the newspaper he flipped through to the classified sections, closes his eyes and landed his finger on an advert for a painting class. Not quite the activity he thought he would stumble across but it was a start, a break in his routine.
Pulling on his jumper and cap, Grant ventured out doors and towards the address in the advert. He was pleasantly surprised when he found a small home, not dissimilar to his own with a beautiful garden full of flowers. “Hello?” he called out into the garden.
“Yes, hello, come through please” called the disembodied voice.
Grant opened the gate that belonged to the white picketed fence that surrounded the property and made his way towards the location of the voice. He found a woman with long blonde hair and a flowing skirt surrounded by easels. There were a few people around Grant’s age and a couple that were younger, the woman smiled at him and motioned for him to take a space at the last remaining easel.
“Welcome, class,” the woman began, “for those of you who are new my name is Camille and I’ll be your inspiration today. Please take some brushes and paints and let your emotions flow onto the canvas. There’s no right or wrong way to paint, my friends so please do not be shy.”
The woman started to weave in and out of the class and Grant could hear her umming and aaahing as she surveys everyone’s work. All of a sudden she was by his side, “Welcome Mr…”
“Oh uh, Howett, but call me Grant”
“Grant, yes, hello and welcome it is always such a pleasure so see a fresh face join us”
Grant laughed, “not quite so sure my face is as fresh as it could have been!”
“Oh Grant,” Camille replied, placing his hand on her shoulder, “each line on this face tells me a story, it tells me you’ve lived and loved. You must use this as your muse for your work”
“Um, yeah I’ll get right on that”
Grant stared at the blank canvas, he had no idea what to paint, and perhaps he was thinking about it too much. He closed his eyes and breathed in heavily through his nose, the scent from the flowers and the war air filled his lungs. He picked up his brush, dabbed it into one of the pots in front of him and started in clear and even strokes to add the colour to his canvas.
“This, it is incredible,” it was Camille, Grant didn’t even realise she was standing by him again, “the colour, the passion, the story. It’s beautiful. You must paint at home.”
“Nope,” Grant replied “first time actually dear.”
“Amazing, you must take part in our show at the end of the month. I refuse to take no for an answer.”
The rest of the class were now staring at him and muttering to each other, “well I guess so, ok then”
Camille clapped her hands together, “Fabulous, now class we are finished for the day. Please leave your paints and brushes at the table here and have a beautiful day full of hope and happiness.”
Grant took a longer route home and spent time admiring his surroundings, he’d never been one to just sit and watch the world go by but something about Camille had made him want to appreciate the beautiful landscape he found around him.
Spending time in a small public area Grant watched as a couple sat completely involved with each other, he sighed as he remembered how he and Margot used to be. Even as they became parents and their bones grew old and their hair turned grey they were still very much in love. The sun began to set so Grant took himself home.
Making his tea that night, Grant smiled to himself. He had thoroughly his day and was actually looking forward to getting out and trying more things, maybe a computer or woodworking class would be next, but for today he was finished. Once he finished his meal he slipped into his pajamas and headed for bed.
Grant rose from his bed, there was a blinding light streaming into his room and he was determined to find the source so he could get back to sleep. Throwing open his front door he shielded his eyes and called out, “turn those blasted lights out – it’s stupid o’clock in the morning and I’ve to be up early.”
“Hello Grant,” a voice said, he couldn’t make out the figure but he knew that voice. The hairs on his arms stood on end.
“M-M-Margot?” Grant stuttered, “how is that possible!”
The figure moved towards grant, the closer it got to him the clearer it became, “take my hand,” Margot said, “let’s go home.”
Grant did as he was told, as he always had done with Margot when she asked something of him and together they walked into the light where he found himself in a field surrounded by perfumed flowers.