I have no idea who the man in this dusty old portrait is. No one else in my family knows him, either. There isn’t a single artist’s mark or name anywhere on the thin wooden plank. All I know is that we found him, and a badly damaged portrait of two babies in white dresses, in my grandmother’s attic when we were cleaning out her house. Something about the faded and splotched portrait stuck with me, and I’ve often wondered what the man’s story is.
I’ve come up with some pretty romantic ideas over the years. Perhaps he was a dashing suitor of one of my ancestors, but he left her heartbroken so she left him in the attic. Perhaps he was a relative who went off to be a war hero and never came home. Perhaps his story is one of those family “skeletons” that people just didn’t talk about, so now, no one remembers him.
I pulled his portrait from its crumbling wooden frame. The grime had somehow manage to slip between the glass and the portrait over the years. I picked him up and dusted him off, and slipped him in to a new frame. Now he resides in our hallway: a striking stranger from the attic.