She knew it was there, though her eyes remained closed. She could envision the entire room without having to open them. The gold trimmed mirror, the wooden chest which laid at its feet. The retired piano which stood, untouched, waiting to be brought back to life. The painting. She knew it was there, she could feel it. And there it lay unassuming on the floor waiting to be seen, the strokes of oil paint which protruded the surface of its canvas reaching out only to be met with a shower of dust. She wanted to open her eyes, to see what she so vividly imagined in her head. She wished that they would open by themselves, that they didn't have to rely on her to make the decision.
She began to recount all the times which she spent marvelling at the painting, and how even then it had remained on the ground, propped up against the wall as if it lacked the strength to carry its own weight. She remembered that she used to think it was beautiful.
Amidst the painted field, encompassed by the overgrown grass hid a woman. This was what had possessed her to waste so much time consumed by the painting; this painted woman. She would stare into her for what had felt like hours, for what could've been days, or seconds. The longer she had spent with the painting the more of her sanity it had stolen; her perception of time fading along with it. She sometimes imagined that it were her trapped within the paint. She would feel the air sailing through the field around her, slipping through her fingers as she tried to hold it. She wondered if the painted woman wished to trade places with her too.
It was late in the afternoon as she stood paralyzed at the entrance of the room, unable to see. The event which had provoked this voluntary blindness had already slipped her memory, yet she chose to trust her initial fear, persisting in her delusion. It was the realization of what had truly caused this episode of hers which returned her sight, and she pried her eyes open. The room was not all that she had envisioned, though it had once looked the way it did in her head. The window bore new curtains which did not absorb outside light completely, allowing sun beams to dissipate throughout the space and create an atmosphere which did not emit desolation, but warmth.
She understood why she had kept her eyes closed, and wished to close them once again. The stark contrast between what the room once was and had become did not distract from her terror. She feared that a part of herself had been left captured within the painting all these years, but remained unaware of how to set it free. She couldn't bear to see herself within the paint, where the painted woman had once been; where she had once wished to be. It had become apparent to her that to look into the painting was to look into a mirror, and she could not bring herself to do so. Though her eyes were now open, she could not look. She would not look. She wanted to decide that whatever was left inside the painting was not worth retrieving, or even looking at one last time, she knew that this was not possible.
What was worse than to have to relive the painting, to risk becoming enthralled in its scenery all over again, was not to risk anything at all. And so, she risked everything. She looked.