Chapter 12: Sheryl Spills
Sheryl stared up at her brother in shock. She had not expected him to be home at this time. Silently she followed his gaze to the stack of paintings. Oh no! She had planned to put them away in the back of her closet until Gwen left, that way Shawn would not see them until she had picked an appropriate time to tell him about the apartment—and Gwen.
“What’s all this doing here,” he asked a bit more demanding.
Sheryl knew her brother’s temper all too well. But it wasn’t so much telling him that had the brunette worried—it was his reaction.
“Well…,” she began, standing to her feet. “I decided to to a bit of cleaning in Gwen’s old apartment…seeing she won’t need it and all.”
Shawn narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “What do you mean…?”
Well Gwen’s been found, but guess what? She left us again. No! That won’t do, she thought. Glancing about the room for ideas, she decided it best to go ahead and drop the bomb as gently she could. She’d be cleaning up the pieces later anyway.
“Remember that homeless girl we brought home the other day?”
“What about her,” Shawn asked hanging his keys on their place by the door. He refused to take his eyes off his sister. There was something wrong here.
Shawn frowned. “Spit it out already.”
Sheryl cringed. “Shawn…that woman…was Gwen.”
The room suddenly fell silent. Shawn dropped his coat he had been carrying as the words hit like a brick wall. Sheryl’s eyes filled with tears just as Thomas stepped in.
“What’s going on…,” he began until he noticed the paintings.
It only took one look at either of his siblings for him to figure it out. Quietly he set down his school bag.
Then Shawn snapped.
Out of both anger and grief he slammed his fist into the wall, knocking the key rack to the floor. His keys landed with a horrible clanging.
“Where is she,” he demanded glaring back at his sister. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
His sister swallowed hard trying to maintain her normally calm composure. “She’s been staying in the apartment…but she left today.”
Shawn turned to her with seething anger. “What? Where is she now…?” After all they had been through looking for her, how could she have let her leave?
“I don’t know. I think she was planning on it anyway since we cleaned out the apartment today.”
Her brother’s expression now changed from anger to pure horror. Planning? Why? Why would she leave? Where would she go? What’s going on?
Sheryl straightened herself and tried to use her softest tone. “She was afraid, Shawn—afraid of you and Bryan. She had too!” Tears began burning at the corners of her eyes as she continued. “It’s not just her any more. She’s pregnant.”
The words tore through the room like a whirlwind. All Shawn could hear was that word—pregnant. She’s…pregnant…? How? How did this happen? Why? It felt as though his own heart had been ripped out for a second time.
Sheryl moved silently over to the stack of canvases piled on the floor. Slowly she lifted several of them until her fingers fell on a small, thick-framed panel.
After Gwen’s first disappearance the three had spent days cleaning up the mess left behind. Blood and paint had stained the carpet. Sheryl’s mind wandered back to Gwen’s overturned easel. It had been a gift from her and brothers for the artist’s twentieth birthday. The blonde used it all the time, and surprisingly it was the one thing she did keep orderly.
But that day it was over turned; facing the wall. It was the first thing Sheryl had noticed as her friend usually kept it facing the door so that whatever piece she was working on could be seen from the door. It was Gwen’s method of reminding herself to finish her latest piece.
About a week before the incident her prized easel had remained empty. Yet when they found the apartment there was a small canvas laying beside it. It must have fallen off when the easel was tipped over.
Sheryl forced herself to pull the square canvas from the stack; her brothers watching her curiously.
“Remember that one canvas we couldn’t figure out,” she asked. “Turns out Gwen had the answer all along.”
Sheryl held up the small panel for her brothers to see. Amid an abstract swirl of red and purple hues was the white outline of an infant.
Copyright The Faithbook 2011