The Painted Eggs
Anushka Petrov adjusts the shawl around her stooped shoulders. Her feet shuffle to ease the pain in her lower back as she escorts her young visitor to the door. They walk silently through her antique filled house. She knows there is no need to continue the conversation. She has seen the "look" before. He is hooked.
She shouldn't have waited this long she thinks as she closes the front door. The pain has never been this severe. But as usual she struggles to justify what she is about to do. Back in Russia the woman who had passed on the eggs had started when she was young and so the eggs helped her to stay that way. Anushka had held on to them for over 50 years before finally giving in and finding her first victim.
She had been taught by her predecessor how to lure them in. Back then they couldn't just wait and hope someone would come by. Since she had moved to America 75 years ago it was much easier pickings. Since the invention of the Internet it was almost too easy.
She knew enough to keep her advertisements varied, to draw her victims from different areas, and to choose from diverse groups of people. That had been the down fall of her predecessor, who was burned at the stake. Not that they were witches. They didn't cast spells or have any so-called powers. She was just the possessor of the eggs. She didn't have to do anything but invite them to come and then it only took one look.
She heads into the dinning room where she keeps her collection. All four walls are lined with shelving, floor to ceiling. And on those shelves are thousands of painted eggs. Each egg has a person painted on it and in the background is that person's home. She has eggs with people from all different areas of the world with all different kinds of scenery. A man next to his small stone cottage surrounded by beautiful gardens. A woman in a long flowing gown in her ballroom. A woman in her apartment with the city showing through the windows behind her. A man in front of his minka style home in Japan. She doesn't really like to look at them. She doesn't like that she has taken them away from their lives and homes. She doesn't like to think about the hurt their loved ones must feel.
But her pain always speaks loudest. Shouting at her to focus on what needs to be done.
She walks over to the one window in the dining room, slides the lock over and opens it a little. She has learned it's best to make it easy for them. After the victim has looked at one of the eggs (and it's not always the same egg, the choices seem to be random) they are overwhelmed by the need to possess the egg. It becomes an obsession that takes over. Some will ask to buy the egg on the spot, some will come back later to make an offer. Unfortunately, the only way it works is if they are stealing the egg.
She visualizes the man who just left. He will be coming through the window later tonight. She sees him going over to the egg he has chosen. It is the one with the man hunting a bird in front of his log house. She knows as soon as his fingertips touch it he will disappear and a new egg will be next to the one he coveted. And her pain will disappear at that moment too.
As she switches the lights off and goes to her room, she thinks about picking up the phone and calling him. Telling him that she will sell him the egg after all. She has no idea what would happen then. Is she willing to take the chance that her pain will get worse? Or worse yet...death someday?
No she will let him come. She will let her collection grow at least one more time.
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