Alice stood there, short, even for her age; knotty hair, knobby knees, one eye bigger than the other, hidden behind glasses with thick frames and thin lenses; a nose, so much like a button, people poked it constantly, without permission. Living in such a messy body made her sure of few things. Though one, unquestionable thing, remained true. She was better than her brother.
Her brother stood a bit back, selfie-stick outstretched; thick shouldered, even-grinned, bright eyed. He snapped off a number of pictures.
“Douche-bag,” Alice muttered.
“Now where does a kid like you learn a word like that?” Her brother said, sheathing his selfie stick.
“The internet, ever heard of it?” Alice snapped, stalking off.
“Good one!” Her brother called after her. She stopped in front of The Crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John.
“Gerani,” she said to herself. She looked from the tag to the painting. It looked dirty. She sighed.
“You know Jesus was black.”
Alice turned. Her brother stood behind her, eying the painting. “Really,” he said.
“I don’t care, go away!” Alice ran this time, The Hermitage was a big place and her brother was dumb. She’d avoid him a good while, she thought.
“Rember-de-tuh,” Alice sounded out, a bit later.
“Rembrandt, dumbass. And, see, in this one he is white too, museums suck,” her brother wasn’t even looking at the painting. He was texting. Alice tried not to raise her voice, the old women guarding the room already eyed her nervously, Alice being young and all.
“Just leave me the ef alone,” she growled.
“Oh, big girl, why not use big words, go on,” her brother antagonized reaching down to bop her on the nose. She swatted his hand away, he laughed.
Alice walked up to the old woman at the door way.
“My brother is being an a-hole!”
The woman frowned down at her.
“That’s what brothers are for.”
Alice felt hot in the cheeks, “but he needs to be punished!” she demanded.
The old woman’s eyes grew amused.
“That’s what mothers are for, do I look like your mother?” she said. Alice looked at her, then back to her brother. Her brother chuckled.
Alice stormed off to a less populated hall. Her brother didn’t follow.
“C’mon Alice, that crap is boring,” he called, but, she ignored him. It was a hall of pottery, mostly. She leaned against the wall and felt like crying, but, she didn’t, she knew better. She eyed the tag beside her. She looked hard at the name, for something to look hard at. She said it to herself out-loud. It felt weird in her mouth. She said it a few more times.
“Yeah, yeah, got it,” A rough voice said behind her. She turned. A man in a long robe glowered at her from under a pointy hat.
“Who are you?” Alice said, backing into the wall.
“Cornelius, who are you?”
“Good for you.”
“What do you want?” Alice demanded.
Cornelius raised an eyebrow. “Just about to ask you the same thing.”
Alice crossed her arms. “I want my brother dead.”
Cornelius smiled at her. “That’s no good, you’d miss him.”
Alice snorted, “doubtful,” she muttered. She eyed the man, he was peculiar.
“What’s your deal?” She asked.
“Oh look at you talking like a grown-up,” Cornelius chuckled.
Alice glared at him. He held up his hands, like a white-collar criminal.
“Sorry dear, I’m Cornelius. You said the word, so, I have to give you a wish. A quick one, if you don’t mind. I don’t have much patience, even for children.”
Alice looked the man up and down. She shrugged. “Any wish?”
Cornelius nodded. Alice thought. She smiled.
“Out with it then,” Cornelius said.
She told him.
“All the paintings of him?”
“Clever girl,” Cornelius said, and vanished.
Alice blinked, her mouth was dry. She turned and walked quickly away from the pottery. She found her brother where she’d left him. He was still texting. She looked at the painting beside him. She waited. Her brother glanced up at her. He looked at the painting. His jaw dropped, his face went white. Alice smiled.
“Happy now?” she asked.
Her brother didn’t respond.
The old woman at the door frowned at her brother’s complexion. She got up from her chair and looked at the painting.
She too, went white, and screamed.
Alice cracked her knuckles, even though it might give her arthritis. She walked out of the room as a well-meaning crowd approached the scene.