After her husband left her a painting, it was mistakenly deemed worthless. Her determination to find out the truth led her to the most thrilling and devastating journey of her life.
A secret note beneath a layer of paint would change everything she thought she knew about the man she loved.
Charlotte And John
Charlotte and John shared their lives together for 50 long years before John sadly passed away. They raised two wonderful children together and lived a modest life full of happy memories.
Charlotte loved John deeply and was heartbroken when he passed. However, much like every relationship, theirs wasn’t perfect.
The Perfect Couple
Charlotte lived a good life with John and although they didn’t have much money, they always got by. He was good to her but there was hardly ever a problem that they wouldn’t manage to resolve throughout all their years of marriage.
But there was one thing that lingered in the background of their relationship. One thing that the couple constantly struggled with.
A Private Person
When Charlotte first met John, she was struck by how private he seemed to be. He never talked much about his family and had some odd quirks.
Charlotte hoped that as the years passed, he would open up but he continued to be private, even with his wife. It was a trait that caused many problems between them, up until his final hours.
John would often come home late from work without having a good explanation as to where he was.
“Don’t worry”, he’d say, “I wasn’t with anyone. You just don’t need to know where I’ve been or what I’m doing all the time. Just know I’m not doing wrong by you”. He’d say this every time and Charlotte felt she had no choice but to believe him. But it had everything to do with her.
Apart from his mysterious outings, John also had a press in their bedroom wardrobe that he always kept locked.
Charlotte tried numerous times to open it but she never managed it. She also trusted him enough not to push him. She figured he’d tell her in time. She just never thought he’d tell her too late.
It wasn’t a surprise for the family when John passed away. In fact, they had sadly been expecting it for quite some time.
They all got to say goodbye and be there for him. It was more than a lot of others got. However, of course, it didn’t make losing him any better but what it did do was give John a chance to prepare.
Before John passed, he gave Charlotte a painting and told her to never give it away to anyone, ever. He told her it was extremely valuable and to look closely at it.
Charlotte wondered why he thought she’d care about such a painting at a moment like this. She took the painting obediently and smiled gently. After all the years this painting hung in their house, she never knew he cared this much about it. But there was a reason.
The painting didn’t look like anything special. It certainly wasn’t any kind of antique or masterpiece – surely, he would have told her if it was?
After John passed, Charlotte was left devastated. She had her children to comfort her but they were all grown up and living away from home. Charlotte was left with her thoughts. But one thing kept returning to her mind.
The painting. She stared at it as she recalled what he had said to her about it. He told her such a cryptic message about it that the confusion of it all made Charlotte sadder.
She didn’t understand him. Why did he always talk in riddles with her? For once, she wished that he’d just be open with her and tell her everything and that’s when it clicked.
The painting must be the clue behind everything. Behind his 50 years of secrets and privacy and sneaking around. She repeated what he said to her in his final hours.
“Look closer”, she whispered. Her eyes squinted at the painting as she repeated his words. “Look closer, look closer, look closer”. She got to her feet and walked over to the painting.
Charlotte felt like he had given her a final task as his wife. Maybe this was the answer to all the secrecy over the past 50 years?
Charlotte took the painting off the hook on the wall, carefully put it in a bag, and got into her car. She was going to solve this riddle no matter what it took.
When Charlotte gave the painting to an art assessor, she was told exactly what she had expected; it was worthless. Still, “Are you sure? Can you look again?” Charlotte pleaded, hoping that she was somehow wrong.
Her late husband told her it was valuable. If it wasn’t, why would he say that?
Plan Of Action
How could a painting that her late husband assured her was so valuable to be worthless? Returning home with the painting, Charlotte felt deflated but she wasn’t ready to give up yet.
She poured some coffee and thought of her next move. That’s when she remembered to always get another opinion when it came to these things. There was a chance that man was wrong. So, she called a friend.
A Different Opinion
Her friend, Tony, was an amateur art restorer. He agreed to take a look at it and give her a second opinion. Within a moment’s notice, Charlotte was at his house with the painting.
She told him what the previous art assessor had said to her and explained that it just didn’t make sense. Knowing Charlotte’s late husband himself, Tony agreed that something was off.
Tony knew John for years and he knew him to be an honest, quiet character who wouldn’t say anything that he didn’t mean or that wasn’t true.
There had to have been something special about this painting. It was too out of character for John to say something like that in his dying breaths and not mean it. Now, Tony was determined to study this piece of art.
Something Hidden Underneath
It wasn’t long before Tony realized that the painting had an unusually thick layer of varnish on top of an already unusually thick layer of paint.
He looked closer at the painting and carefully studied the curvature of the brushstrokes. He traced the paint lightly with his microscope until he noticed that something definitely wasn’t right.
He grabbed his blue light torchlight and shined it over the problematic area. His forehead was sweating in the heat of his studio. Charlotte was waiting anxiously in his living room, sipping on a sweet tea.
There were abrupt rises in the paint where it wouldn’t occur naturally. Something was definitely hiding underneath.
Tony called Charlotte to come over and look at what he discovered. Then he slowly and meticulously started to break through the paint, being careful not to cause too much damage.
Charlotte watched in amazement as a small obscure piece of paper came into view. Tony carefully freed it from the painting. On the front was Charlotte’s name, written in her late husband’s handwriting. Her face went pale.
A Local Bank
Charlotte reached for the piece of paper and turned it around. Her husband had written an address she recognized and a code. Her mind raced.
The address belonged to a local bank. After thanking Tony profusely, Charlotte raced to her car and drove to the address stated. What was her beloved late husband trying to tell her?
On the drive to the bank, Charlotte couldn’t help but think about what on earth he had planned. She wished he was still here so she could berate him for being so secretive again.
Through her confusion and anger, her eyes started to swell as her heart began to break again at his absence. What did he not tell her and why not tell her before while he still could?
When Charlotte asked an employee at the bank for help and showed him the note, his reaction took her by surprise. He stumbled onto his feet and asked her to follow him.
When he took her into the back towards a high-security room, she thought she was in trouble. But when he led her to a big safe in the center of the marble-laced room, her mouth fell open.
Surprise And Confusion
The employee asked her to place her finger on the safe scanner and a green light appeared. Engraved on a silver plate beside the safe was her late husband’s name. Her heart pounded as she tried to understand what was happening. What had he kept from her?
The safe door opened and there, before her eyes, lay another note addressed to her name.
The Truth Comes Out
The tears flowed steadily as Charlotte recognized her late husband’s handwriting once more. She asked the employee for a moment while she read his letter.
The letter was long. It was also one of the most heart-felt letters she had ever received from him. As she read, all the secrets he had kept from her for years finally came bubbling to the surface.
First, John explained the safe and why the insane amount of money it contained was in his possession. John worked as a carpenter but he also had another job. His real job that Charlotte had no idea about.
Charlotte knew that John had a wealthy uncle who was a renowned painter, but she thought all of his paintings had already been sold. That wasn’t the case.
A Wealthy Inheritance
John’s uncle left his estate to John. His inheritance included his entire work of paintings. Paintings that John continued to auction and take care of on the side of his carpentry career.
The money was partly his inheritance and partly the money he earned selling his paintings and prints. He explained that this was the reason behind all the secrecy she had to endure. But why?
John was raised by his wealthy uncle and hated seeing how everyone treated him differently because of his wealth. He ended up surrounded by people who used him. John didn’t want the same life for himself.
So he did everything in secret and lived the life he dreamed of with his loving wife. He raised decent kids and lived happily in peace. Charlotte couldn’t help but smile through her tears.