The museum was quiet at night. So quiet, I bet I could fall asleep and never wake up. You didn’t have the bustling crowds of interested people standing in front of you, making you jump up and down to try and see one single painting. You didn’t have the kids that were on field trips making fun of the art or shooting spitballs at inappropriate times.
I strolled down the hallways of the museum as I mopped the white tile floors and dusted the statues and artwork, humming to myself and dancing around the maze of sculptures.
And then I suddenly bumped into someone. And not just any someone.
A thin woman stood before me with long jet black hair that was pulled back into such a tight bun, it looked like it hurt and there wasn’t a strand out of place. She was wearing a long, silk, emerald green dress that swish, swoosh-ed when she walked in her black heels.
I immediately recognized Mrs. Stone, the strict woman who owned the museum.
I gave myself an inside punch to the gut and slap to the face for dancing in these halls with her watching. I could get fired.
“Maya? I thought I hired you to work here.” She said in her English accent, clicking her tongue to the roof of her mouth. “Not dance in these pristine halls. Should I be concerned?”
“No Miss. I’ll get back to cleaning.” I said, bowing before her.
“Good.” Was all she said before walking beside me and purposely bumping into me.
I sucked air through my teeth. That hurt.
“Such weakness.” She mumbled.
I heard something hit the ground and turned around to find Mrs. Stone had spilled her coffee on the marble floor I had just mopped. Purposely.
I looked up to her pale white face and it disgusted me as I saw a large grin on her face. “Missed a spot.” She said and turned around, her clicking footsteps descending down a different hall.
As I mopped the warm coffee off the ground I took the time to admire the paintings around me. One specifically caught my eyes.
It was meant to be abstract so no one knew what it was, but at the same time, it spoke so much to me.
Colors of red, blue, pink, yellow, gold, and green paint were splattered across the pristine white canvas. And in the middle was a big gray elephant sitting down on a patch of grass. It was magical and wonderful and happy. That’s what it made me feel too.
I looked back to the dirty floor and scrubbed off the last of the coffee with water, soap, and a sponge before placing all my cleaning supplies on my cart and taking off.
I looked back at the elephant and smiled.
But I noticed something that made me jerk my head around to look at it.
One second the elephant was sitting. The next, it was blowing its trunk and eating peanuts off the ground.
I gasped. “It’s- wha-wha-wha?” I stuttered. “But it was-no- that can’t be- but- oh my gosh.”
Clickity clackity noises echoed throughout the room and an all-too-familiar voice boomed. “Maya.” She called out my name. “Why are you stuttering? It’s interrupting my late night stroll in the museum.”
My eyes opened wide at the fact she’d not believe me. I’d be sure to get fired. “Oh, you know. All the reasons to stutter!”
She narrowed her eyes on me. “No, Maya. Stop trying to play cute. Why. Were. You. Stuttering?!”
I bit my lip so hard it was either bleeding or it’d make a dent forever. “That painting,” I said pointing behind me without turning around. “It moved.”
“Maya, you’ve cleaned these rooms and halls for years! Don’t you know this painting by heart?” She asked, sounding disappointed.
She walked over to the painting I pointed at but I didn’t follow or turn my head to look at her. I was too anxious.
“It’s name is ‘Colorful Sitting Elephant’. Not the best name for a painting because it’s so obvious. Couldn’t they come up with something more creative?” She asked herself, forgetting I was in the room. “Maya, come look at this painting.” She demanded.
I turned around and walked toward Mrs. Stone with my head looking at my feet.
“Chin up!” She snapped. “Now, what seems off?”
That’s what my brain told me when I looked up at the colorful painting. And it was right. The elephant was back to it’s sitting position.
“But I swear! I swear that elephant was eating peanuts and goofing around with its trunk!”
“Oh, Maya. I really should fire you, but you do the best work out of any of the other people I’ve hired to clean this museum. But any more funny business and count on me keeping a close eye on you. Very close.”
I got back to dusting and hummed a soft melody as I did it. I turned the corner and walked down “The Hall of Fame” as Mrs. Stone put it. It was a hall dedicated to famous people who've done great things for our country. They each had a piece of art or a sculpture or statue dedicated to them.
As I walked past the statues and sculptures I dusted them.
“ACHOO!” Sneezed one of the sculptures.
I looked back and Jane Goodall’s statue was rubbing its nose with its hands. “You really need to clean that duster, Dear.” She said, “Making everything more dusty is what you’re doing. And you’re making all of us in here sneeze and getting us sick.”
My eyes opened wide. But I managed to squeak out, “Did a statue of Jane Goodall just talk to me?”
“Yes, Dear. Is that really so surprising? This whole museum is alive.”
“What?” I kind of yelled it and it was too loud because I could hear Mrs. Stone coming down the hall.
“Maya! No. More. Funny. Business!!” She boomed at my face. She was towering over me like a basketball player and it made her even more scary looking. Her hunched back, her clenched teeth, and her mad looking eyebrows.
“Yes ma’am.” I whispered afraid if I said it too loud, she’d fire me.
She walked off but I could tell she was close. So I made sure that when I talked to Jane, I whispered.
“What do you mean this whole museum is alive?” I asked her.
“I mean, everything in here has a spirit. Like a ghost maybe or a spirit.” She explained.
“You make absolutely no sense.” I told her. “But I get it I think.”
“Would you like me to show you how everything is alive?” She asked.
“No, it would blow your cover and get me-”
“CALLING ALL ALIVE ART IN THE MUSEUM!!” She yelled before I could finish my sentence.
Suddenly, all the art around me started to talk. The objects inside of the painting started to move. The art with mouths started to talk.
“MAYA!! You are fired!”