“RIP. Emily Greene”.
The wall of expression, an exercise in free art for my students, lay tumbled and broken at my feet. The paintings, which were supposed to be of a personal nature, un-signed and unseen by anyone else, now lay splayed all over the room making me feel like an intruder.
When I had managed to clean up the mêlée of art materials, I got down on my hands and knees and set about returning paintings to boxes and reconstructing the wall, replacing any boxes that had been splattered with colour. I felt like a criminal covering up my crime.
As I was almost finished, one of the paintings caught my eye. A bright splash of green, brown and blue, it was a painting of a forest clearing. I put down the box and crawled over to take a closer look. The detail was amazing and I found it hard to believe that one of my children had painted it. Each tree was the same, the bark painted in stark detail and every single leaf contained a perfect blue eye. A forest of eyes stared out at me.
At the side of the painting, next to a fallen tree and a strangely shaped rock was a single, small tombstone bearing the words “RIP. Emily Greene”. My mind immediately ran through the names of the children I had taught art to, but I could not recall anyone named Greene and yet the name was oddly familiar and disturbing.