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“Roger…” Pearl’s dead voice whispered from the wall.  The reddish-brown stain continued to murmur at him long after her body was gone and the bleach had run the last of the blood down the garage floor drain.

Roger found a can of paint on the lower shelf along the wall and an old paint roller with white crusted into the ends from long use and poor cleaning. Paint covers everything. There would be nothing left to see, but better yet, nothing left for him to hear.

He started as high up the wall as he could, where the highest specks had flown. A sweep of his arm left an arc of shiny white paint across the wall. 


He started back from the wall, then shook his shoulders and leaned in with the roller. “Shut up, Pearl.” This was nothing but her last gasp, a final effort to fight her burial under the smothering paint.

Pearl had always been after him to paint the garage. Actually, she had been after him about everything, ever since he could remember. The nitpicking, the complaining, the casual cruel remarks in public about how he’d never pulled his weight, never did anything right, ever. Finally, he’d had enough. And now, ironically enough, she was getting that painted garage at last. And everything else she’d been asking for.

“I’m watching you,” Pearl’s voice whispered from the wall.

He leaned his weight into the paint roller. Once the stain was fully covered, she would be gone forever. 

Louder than ever: “Roger!”

He stumbled back again and stared up at the fresh white wall. Maybe it had to dry – maybe then she would quiet down. Or perhaps it just needed two coats. He wiped his brow, and the heady scent of the paint filled his nose.

“You’ll never be rid of me, Roger!”

How had she gotten louder? He picked up the can and hurled an arc of paint at her. It splattered against the wall and left a wide dribble on the floor.

He’d paint the whole garage. Walls, ceiling, floor – he’d cover everything. That would go better for him, anyway; if anyone came around asking questions he didn’t want to answer, there would be nothing but a shiny, fresh garage to meet them.


“Shut up, Pearl!” he shouted, bending over to run the roller through the paint on the floor, tilting his head and breathing through his mouth. He’d open the garage door to air the room out while this layer was drying, then he’d buy another can to match and finish the job.

He picked up the can from the shelf and turned it around to check the label. “Essence of Pearl,” the sticker read. Beneath the name, in italics: The paint that lasts forever!

He dropped the can, and paint spilled across the floor. It began to scream at him, joined by the wall, the paint roller, the flecks in his hair.

He clicked the garage door opener, and paint bubbled from the button. He staggered to the side door that led back to the house. The doorframe was sealed shut, as if paint had been poured into every crevice and left for a year to dry.


The fumes came on him in waves. He sank to his knees on the garage floor, where she had knelt for the last time.

“I’m never leaving, Roger. And neither are you.”

The paint ran over his hands and across his scalp and into his eyes. He tasted it, he breathed it, and the world went black for the last time.


Eva Schultz lives in Aurora, Illinois, where she is a business writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her work has recently appeared in Frontier Tales and Backchannels. She lives with a big orange cat named Gus and enjoys drawing, painting, and collecting typewriters. Visit her online at


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