“How’s it going?”

“It’s coming along all right. Almost done now.” Richard lifted the brush tip from still-wet canvas and smiled over his shoulder at Marla. She was his biggest fan and his most critical critic, which wasn’t difficult because no one else ever saw his work. It had been that way from the beginning.

He liked to have her watch him paint. For one thing, she was good company. The attic room wasn’t a particularly friendly place. It was chilly and barren, but it was the only room in the house where he had space to set up his equipment and enough natural light to expose any tiny mistakes that might creep into the picture. When Marla was there with him, the room was warmer, somehow. Besides, she couldn’t really ask him to do chores while he was involved with his art.

Today she was impatient, though. It was unlike her, and Richard knew it was only a matter of time before she began hinting, with a certain amount of enthusiasm, that the painting was good enough and that Richard’s time could be better spent on another project. He kept his smile inside and went on touching up that one little spot. Red, he thought. A touch of red right here would make a difference.

“Richard!” She wasn’t angry yet; he could tell the difference between true anger and the little exasperation she was showing now. He still had a few minutes. He nodded without speaking. Next she’d tell him how much time he had left. Nicely, though.

Marla took a step closer, cocked her head, and said, “They’ll be here Monday morning. This room needs to be all cleared out by then, you know, and junk disposed of. The grandkids can’t sleep on the kitchen floor.”

It was time. Richard turned to smile at his wife.

“All done. What do you think?”

“Perfect!” she answered. “It’s the best GARAGE SALE sign you’ve ever done.”