Kristal’s stay was coming to an end. On Friday, the rental service would come to pick up her canvases and ship them back home. She’d arranged for them to be sent directly the the gallery. She’d been in contact with the gallery owner, a friend and former colleague, sending him snaps of her paintings.
“The light’s incredible,” he’d said. “I’ll take them all.” He’d already lined up a few customers who had first bids.
A new career opened, like she’d hoped. Even if she didn’t earn enough to live on through painting alone, it would help, and she wouldn’t have to return to full-time work.
She realized she’d grown homesick when she painted a landscape from the mountains where she’d spent summers as a child.
Soon, she’d smell pines again and feel that northern air.
Her dogs were at the clinic. One had an ear infection, the other an eye infection, and the third, a urinary tract infection, but the vet was administering treatment and he assured her they’d be cleared to return with her on her flight Monday morning.
It had been easy, after all, to select the dogs to adopt. They chose her, in the end.
The Afghan was the first to befriend her, following her back to the casita. Then the spaniel, who seemed to be something of a pack-mate with the Afghan, chose to stay with them.
Two dogs? Kristal wasn’t sure she was ready for that. But it seemed cruel to separate them, and her big house had plenty of room.
The chocolate mixed-breed began to hang about the casita, too. Could she handle three?
She waited for the chocolate mix to wander off, but she stayed, following her and her dogs to the vet clinic on the morning she took them.
“Might as well come along,” she said, bringing the third dog into the waiting room with her.
The cost of vaccinations, spaying, and the treatment for the infections added up. On top of that, she had to purchase three travel carriers, and she bought three more flight tickets, so the dogs wouldn’t have to be jostled around in the baggage compartment where it was noisy and cold.
Her paintings had better sell! But family isn’t cheap–it’s dear.
On the last weekend, she worked on a small canvas. This one, she wouldn’t sell. This would stay here, hung in the casita, a piece of her to remind her always of where she had changed, a tribute to the something that comes from loss, when we look inside to find what remains.
The colors of the painting danced up from a dark center, rising to open out into something that felt, to her, like hope and a new feeling of home.