Donna Kojac didn’t believe in ghosts, nor did her husband Joe. But she did believe in fate, destiny, unavoidable mishaps, and things like that. She had painted many paintings – landscapes, Kachina dolls (which signify hope for the future), adobe houses with guitars and ristras of drying New Mexico Hatch chilies hanging from the vigas (the beams jutting out of an adobe home). Painting was her life. She’d stay up all night painting followed by sleeping all morning and then she’d wake up and do it all over again.
The nighttime was quiet and was perfect for her hobby and her hubby Joe didn’t mind. Sometimes he’d stay up too, usually watching the news or old movies. At other times, he would fall asleep on the couch. But Donna kept painting. She painted for herself because she loved it. Her paintings were already getting popular online and she was selling them quite frequently on a marketplace site she created on Etsy. She painted endlessly in one of the spare rooms of her simple three-bedroom home. She called that room the painting room, appropriately enough.
Tonight, started out no different from any other night. Her orange and white short-haired cat lay on the ottoman near the door as Donna painted a scene consisting of the front of an adobe house, a door, a window, and a bench set out in front against the wall. She painted an acoustic guitar leaning up against the bench. She put a large flowerpot to the right of the bench against the corner of the walls. Three ristras of red chilies hung from the vigas.
“It’s looking good, honey. Good job, as always,” Joe said standing inside the door jamb. He had that smirk on his face, as if he were up to something again. He was such a practical joker, but since he was a painter too, Donna would accept any praise he gave her because Joe himself was quite good at it and was the one who introduced her to painting years ago.
“Thanks,” Donna said. “Now leave me alone. I’m almost done with this one.”
“Yes, master.” Joe chuckled. He padded away back to the living room and resumed watching his late-night news.
The following night, Donna went into her painting room to resume her latest work of the adobe house with the bench, the chilies and the guitar. She had been quite pleased with how it had gone so far. But Donna was confused at what she saw.
“What the hell?” she yelled. “Joe! Come here!”
Joe came here. “What?”
“Take a look at this,” Donna said.
“Looks nice so far, honey. What do you have left? It’s looks about done.”
“The guitar is missing!” She jabbed at the air towards the painting. “It was right there.”
“The guitar that I painted yesterday. It was right there, leaning up against the bench.”
“Did you paint over it?” Joe asked.
“I’m not crazy. I painted it last night. You saw it, remember? Then I told you to get the hell out and you went back to your freaking couch. Remember?”
“I remember but there was no guitar there. I would remember that, sweetie.”
“Oh, never mind! Go watch your damn TV!”
“You order is my command. Sheesh!” Joe said with that same silly smirk on his face.
Donna painted a guitar, an acoustic one, just like she’d sworn she had last night, leaning up against the old wooden bench. I knew I painted it…but maybe I didn’t. Whatever. This painting was now finished – and it looked good!
“Come here. I’m done. Take a look.”
“Ooh, nice,” said Joe. “That guitar looks great. But why are there two? Isn’t it overkill?”
“What do you mean, two? There’s just one, you idiot.”
“Oh. Hmm. I could have sworn I saw two guitars. Don’t listen to me! Good job, honey!”
“Thanks. I like how it came out, too.”
Donna slept very well that morning. Joe slept his usual four or five hours and then got up a couple of hours before she did. Donna was snoring like a chainsaw until about three in the afternoon. As soon as she got up, she thought about her latest painting and wondered how dry the paint would be by now.
When Donna stepped into the painting room, Joe was sitting there looking at the painting.
“I guess you liked my suggestion after all, huh?” he said.
“The two guitars instead of one. It came out good, sweetheart. Good job.”
“What the… Huh?” Donna saw that the painting had two guitars now. “I know I didn’t paint but one last night. What the heck is going on?” She turned to Joe. Joe shrugged, trying not to smile.
“What’s that on your fingers, Joe?”
“Right there.” She pointed to the brown paint on his fingers. “Did you add the other guitar?”
Joe chuckled loudly. “Yeah, sweetie. You got me. I did it.”
Donna slapped his shoulder playfully. “Idiot!”
Joe’s grin was as big as a slice of watermelon. “You should have seen your face!”
They both laughed as Donna shook her fist at Joe.