The Sunflower Effect: Art Coming to Life (Part III)
Eleanor’s bedroom here was smaller than the one at home. She lay in a small but comfortable bed by the window, the drawn curtains leaving the room in semi-darkness. Eleanor’s eyes were open, but she was staring blankly at the window, as if unaware of anything around her. Her mother sat by the bed with a look of concern on her face, heedless of the soft rustling sound disturbing the heavy silence. After a while, she raised herself from the chair and headed quietly towards the door. Springing up with a sudden burst of energy, Eleanor stretched her arms desperately towards her mother.
“Don’t leave me!” she wailed, “They will come after me! I can hear them climbing up the wall!”
Mother sighed patiently, “Nothing is coming after you dear. You just need some peace and quiet, and everything will be okay.” Of course, Eleanor knew it wouldn’t be, but how could she explain? She watched her mother leave in despairing silence.
The rustling and scraping sound outside the window intensify. Eleanor’s breathing grows heavier. For a moment, the sounds outside cease, and all that Eleanor can hear is the sound of her own heartbeat. Then the curtain concealing the window begins to move as if pushed by some unseen force and spread over Eleanor’s bed. The scraping sound returns, louder than ever. Eleanor sits motionless, staring at the curtain, unable to utter a sound…
It was a beautiful morning. As Eleanor’s mother came down the hallway with a wholesome breakfast tray, her step was springy and optimistic, and she hummed a cheerful song. Reaching Eleanor’s door, she had to fumble with the tray for a few seconds before she managed to turn the handle. The door swung open to reveal a view of the room.
She was still humming as looked over at Eleanor’s bed. Sitting in the next room, Father heard the humming stop abruptly, and the tray comes crashing down to the floor.
Eleanor lay sprawled on the bed, her blanket in a tumbled heap on the floor. Her hands convulsively grasped the stem of an enormous sunflower lying on top of her. Her face was entirely hidden from view by its poisonously yellow petals, wrapped tightly around her head. She was dead.
As the cold gray twilight faded over the cemetery, Eleanor’s parents watched as their daughter’s coffin was slowly lowered into the grave accompanied by Mother’s sobs. At least she had the comfort of knowing that everything was just as little Eleanor would have wanted. The grave overflowed with her favorite flowers – sunflowers. Mother tenderly caressed the sunflower found in Eleanor’s room and gazed at it with tears in her eyes.
“Watch over and protect our poor Eleanor. She was so very fond of sunflowers,” she whispered, kissing the flower and lowering it reverently into her daughter’s grave. Perhaps the tears blurred her vision as she turned away, but she didn’t see the Sunflower slowly begin to claw at the lid of the coffin with its predatory leaves. She never did.