Jade was running J. P.’s store when onezero stopped by.
“Do you need more paintings?” onez asked.
“Excuse me?” replied Jade.
“You know,” said onez. “Paintings. Like what you hang on the wall. This is an art gallery, right?”
Cypress came in, followed by Aunt Sugar. Cypress headed straight for the gnomes. Another one would look great in the garden!
“Hey, Jade,” Sugar said over her shoulder. “I see you’re meeting one of the other family artists!”
Jade joined onezero outside. “So you’re the famous onezero!” she said. “Sorry I didn’t recognize you in there!”
“That’s ok!” said onez. “I forgot we hadn’t met! So do you need more paintings?”
Jade quickly texted J. P., who was taking a much-needed day off.
“That’d be great,” Jade said when she received J. P.’s answer. “We’ve got some easels upstairs. Knock yourself out!”
The light upstairs was rich and warm. Besides a trip to Granite Falls, onez hadn’t spent much time anywhere but the high desert of Cradle Rock, so the soft blues, pinks, and greens of her palette felt luscious on her brush. Her first landscape was a masterpiece.
And so was her second, a painting of J. P.’s home.
I really like the angle of the sidewalk, thought onezero. I know it breaks rules of composition, but that’s what makes it so neat.
In the golden hour, she painted a study of the planter against the brick building.
As she finished her third painting, she stopped and listened for a moment. Then, she marched right downstairs.
“Grrrr,” she said to Raerei.
“Grrrrowl!” said Raerei back.
“Hi! You’re here!” onezero said.
“You make a great bear,” said Rae.
“Why weren’t you here when I got here?” onezero asked.
“It was Jade’s turn to open. But I’m here now,” Rae replied.
“I’m hungry,” said onezero.
When she walked back up to J. P.’s apartment above the gallery, she saw that the light was turning rosy purple. It looks like home, she thought. Not Cradle Rock, but that other home where I’ve never been.
“Why is the air different?” she asked Raerei, when Raerei came up to make sure there was fresh milk in the fridge for onez’ cereal.
“I think it has to do with temperature, humidity, and the position of the jet stream,” said Raerei.
“This is vanilla sky,” said onezero. “It’s sweet and rich and golden.”
“Like pudding!” laughed Rae.
onezero felt sleepy after her snack. It takes a lot of creative energy to paint two landscapes and a study! J. P. had decorated the bedroom in black, so that he’d be able to sleep soundly even if he snuck upstairs for a catnap.
The room felt restful and comforting to onezero. She hadn’t spent many nights away from Cradle Rock. But it still felt like home, for it had her nephew’s energy.
While she slept, the customers downstairs had a run on gnomes. Jade and Raerei were busy ringing up everyone.
The store was still open when onezero woke a few hours before dawn. She caught a glimpse of Grim gliding down the sidewalk on his black plume of smoke. Perfect subject for her next painting!
The canvas didn’t match her vision–too dark, too pixelated. It was mysterious, though.
Why can’t I always paint masterpieces? onezero wondered while she refreshed herself with a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. Maybe it’s vision, she thought. Sometimes I see with my third eye, and sometimes just with my two.
“We’re about to close!” Raerei said downstairs. “Last chance for a ring up!”
And Sugar found one more painting that she wanted to buy.
“Didn’t you paint this one?” Rae asked.
“No,” replied Sugar. “My nephew did.”
When Sugar went upstairs to say goodbye to onezero, she found Grim telling stories of his adventures to Yuki and onezero.
“You’ll never guess some of the places where I’ve had to show up to collect souls!” he said.
“Not sure I need to know,” mumbled Yuki.
Morning came, and the last of the customers left.
onezero found JRose finishing up her morning jog. They sat together for a while and caught up.
“How’s life now that the legacy is complete?” JRose asked.
“Like it was before,” said onezero, “only now everyone floats through time, not just me and Sugar.”
When it was time for JRose to leave, onezero realized she wanted to head home, too.
This was fun, she thought, a night of adventure at the gallery. And now, I get to go home to Cradle Rock. The best part of going away is coming home again!