Chapter 8: The Epilogue

It happened on a typical day, one like any other. After all, it's on a typical day that something extraordinary happens.

I went to Green Mountain Café to open up early Sunday morning and found a wrapped package waiting for me on the doorstep. Thinking it was something for the café, I didn't give it much mind, just picking it up and bringing it with me inside. I laid it on the cushioned bench that faced the window, deciding that I'd get to it later.

People started coming in before the Sunday masses started and I kept busy with tending to the customer's orders and cleaning up as they filtered out.

As I said, it was like any other typical day.

When closing time came around I found myself staring at the familiar shape beneath the simple brown paper bag wrapping. Curiosity overtook me and I carefully unwrapped it, finding two canvases, one blank and one full.

The full one grabbed my attention first, it was a reminder of something I had managed to slowly remove from my mind over time. But, sure as the first time I saw it, there it was. The pastel of Clara by an artist who found her voice in her paint and finally learned to speak.

The pastel was still in all its glory, the colors as bright, vibrant, and bold as they were in my memory. The incident wasn't all that long ago, I suppose, but memories have a way of exaggerating.

It was, I realized, the original, not a copy made after the fact. Her name was signed at the bottom right corner of the canvas with the date right after it.

I continued to stare, holding the art as if it was as delicate as its artist. As if it could break at any second.

Laying it very gently on the padded bench where I first met her, I picked up the blank canvas, wondering why it was wrapped with the pastel.

The front was completely blank, virgin smooth canvas to be transformed into any work of art the artist would desire. But I was an artist of words, not of color.

She knew that.

So why was this sent?

When flipped over, I saw small cursive handwriting on a piece of white computer paper, scotch taped to the backside of the canvas. The writing was elegant and careful, each 't' crossed and each 'I' dotted.

It was short, for she was not one for words, but it was to the point.

To you, my best inspiration,

Please receive these as reminders of what you've inspired me to become and as a token of appreciation. Though you aren't one for making art, you do have a good eye for it, and maybe someday you'll find your own way to fill this canvas with something that inspires you and that, someday, I can see what inspired someone who meant so much to me.

With highest regards and great appreciation…

Always yours,

Bella

I kept the note with shaky hands, trying to further understand the mystery that is Isabella Gray. Her presence was much like the dress she wore on the last night I saw her. She was there but only brushed lightly against her surroundings, leaving hardly any trace behind.

Picking up the canvas, I realized it was the only material reminder I had of the few days we had.

Rereading her note, a tiny flame of hope flickered within me. It implied that we'd meet again. And, if that was the case, and she truly meant 'always yours', I'd have another shot.

Another chance.

And maybe I could find some way of filling the blank canvas when I saw her again. But, until then, I would just be left alone with my memories and wonders of the artist that only lightly brushed paths with me.

- - Caleb Green


A/N: And this concludes the story. Even though the rest of the chapters were written in third person, I decided that Caleb opened the story and he should be the one to end it as well. As you may have noticed in Bella's note, this epilogue is leading to a sequel to The Artist, but it is still in the brainstorming/planning process.

I'd like to thank my readers so much for staying with this story and sending me your encouraging reviews. It was greatly appreciated and I hope that you will continue to follow my works as they are posted.