Female 18-20.  279 word. Artemisia: “You Are a Painter.” From La Maestra.

By Paul Pasulka

My mother didn’t want me to paint. My father would sneak me into his studio when I was supposed to be cleaning. “Let sweepers sweep,” he said. “You are a painter.” Sometimes late at night and I’d sneak out of bed watch him work by candlelight. He made it look so effortless, like a dance. Then when he went to Florence, she caught me in the studio and put a lock on the door, but I picked the lock. She caught me again and was very angry, but I had painted a lily for her. She was still angry, but said I could paint, if my chores were done and I kept an eye on my brothers.

One day I was in the studio. I was supposed to be watching my brothers. I heard a crash from the kitchen. I thought that Stephano had gotten into the bread for dinner. That I’d be in trouble again. I ran to the kitchen. She had fallen. I didn’t know what to do. I sent Stephano to get help. I kept shaking her, begging her to wake up. I wanted to go to the door, but I didn’t want to leave her. I screamed and screamed. Stephano didn’t come back for so long. Finally our neighbor came - it seemed like it took forever. It was too late. I always wondered, if I hadn’t been painting... And I didn’t for a long time after that. But my father kept saying. You are a painter. If she were alive... I don’t know. I suppose I’d be married.  I just don’t know. But I so know I have to paint. It’s all I have.