It was a cold night, the gray clouds drifted south and the moon sailed out bright and statling from behind the mountains. Falling through frosted glass, it filled the yellow bathroom with soft light, and Nia, sleepless with impatience, knew that she had found a safe and secret place to do her work.
Iolo was not easily disturbed from sleep, his face was pressed against his blue monster and his breathing was calm and even as his sister crawled beneath her bed to retrieve the canvas from its hiding place. Nevertheless, she tiptoed through the door and dared not shut it too harshly behind her.
In the bathroom, in the brightest patch of moonlight, Nia spread her canvas and gazed at it. She had managed to iron it in the tiny upstairs room, on the board her mother had left unattended while she ran Iolo's bath. Nia stroked the rough surface and closed her eyes tightly, silently demanding the canvas to show her where and how to begin. A huge rectangle of dull brown stared back at her, giving no advice, no encouragement.
Once again, the hateful and familiar feeling of hopelessness began to overwhelm Nia. She sank back on her heels, numb with disappointment. She was not what they thought after all. She could not see shapes and colors where they did not exist. She was not gifted with imagination. The Llewelyns had burdened her with a talent she did not possess. They expected too much.
Motionless, she crouched on the cold floor until the church clock struck twice. The lonely, hollow sound made her shiver. It was time to put away the masterpiece that would never be.
A wisp of cloud passed across the moon: the long dress of a lady in the sky. A shadow covered the canvas like a ghost, and when it had gone, a faint shape appeared beside Nia's cold hand where it touched the frayed edge. The pale form gathered strength and color, becoming a roof, dark gray, with a chimney in the center. Another roof emerged beside the first. This one was dark red with a dark curl of smoke drifting from the chimney. The lower edge of the canvas began to fill with imaginary shapes and colors. Nia was so excited she ran into the bathroom, crashing the door back against Iolo's toy box. The rhythm of her brother's quiet breathing changed, be he did not wake.
"Maybe they were invisible."