Chapter 2 - Claire
Claire’s schedule at the hospital had been absurd of late. She hadn’t had a day off in ages. Aimless, she wandered through the streets of Edinburgh. Popping into a shop that caught her eye here and there. She found her spirit rejuvenated with the freedom of a day unplanned. Tired feet found their way into a gallery called Circles . Though on a main street, she had never noticed it before. The brightly colored canvases in the window called to her lighting her heart with their brilliance.
Circling the gallery in a daze of awe, she stepped back to view a piece better. As she stepped back again she bumped into something. A person!
“Och, sorry lass,” the red and gray haired woman with compassionate eyes said to Claire as they both turned to apologize.
“No, no, I’m sorry, I was walking backwards in a gallery like an idiot. I was trying to get a better look. Seems like we had the same idea. I can’t get enough of this artist,” she said.
“Well I’m thrilled to hear that...I’m the artist. Ellen Fraser at yer service,” she said smile aglow as she stuck her hand out to shake Claire’s.
“You’re the artist?! What are the chances that you are here in the gallery today? Is today the opening?” Claire exclaimed.
“No, no, I was just dropping off a few extra pieces for the collection that were requested,” the stately woman replied.
“Wow! I’m stunned! Your work is exquisite. The variety you paint is astounding. Most painters fixate on one thing they are good at, but you are talented at such a variety!”
“Thank ye kindly lass. Would ye like a private tour with the artist? I’ve some time to spare," she said with a warm smile dancing on her features.
“Would I? Yes, please, what an honor!” Claire practically shouted giddily.
Starting at the first piece, Ellen meticulously described her process. She explained how she came up with ideas, the story behind each piece and how she became an artist through the loving support of her husband. It all started one day in a cave in the Highlands, she said as she recounted their love story.
Claire was a romantic at heart, not that one would ever know it outwardly. Her secret love of rom-coms and reading overly romantic literature was something she kept locked away for herself. Even her closest friends didn’t know she was truly that romantic. As someone who felt so deeply, she could almost never bring it to the surface to share. The intensity of her emotion had scared away many a man and even a few friends. She learned young to keep that emotion to herself, and used the rom coms as an outlet to let out her tears of joy, pain, and heartache. The flowing water cleansed her each time with a promise for future release.
As Ellen shared the story of how she and Brian came to be, Claire had to hold back her tears from the beauty of it. She was so used to suppressing her emotions that she wasn’t sure why she was so affected by this stranger’s story or why she had trouble keeping herself in check. To her unfortunate surprise, Ellen noticed and took her hand. There was something so motherly about her and Claire was powerless to stop the compassion that came forth from Ellen.
Sitting in the center of the empty gallery on a bright red abstract bench, Claire and Ellen bonded. They shared the stories of their lives. Emotion and information poured out to Ellen like the mother Claire had long since missed and never known as an adult. Ellen encouraged Claire not to keep her romantic side hidden, to seek love, and to always be true to herself.
All of a sudden, a flash of insight crossed Ellen’s face, “I know,” she said excitedly, “Ye should date my son!”