She was sad, but aren’t all beautiful heroines in novels such as this one? Aren’t all writers, artists, musicians, embroiderers, sculptors, and graphic designers’ souls a bit tinged black with depression in varying levels of severity? Some more than others. Some are so sad they feel like turning the steering wheel jarringly, suddenly to the right – and often. Some just feel blue for a bit longer than most after reading a sad story in the newspaper. Justine was of the former lot.
She was creative: she painted. She was good. She had been to a year at college, and there she painted quietly and a bit self-consciously in the bright fine arts studio. Some nights it was so late when she finished she was afraid to walk back to her dormitory alone, so she slept in her clothes in the cold studio, behind rolls of canvas. In the morning she freshened her lipstick from her purse and ate butterscotch candies from a dish on the professor’s desk so she wouldn’t be so obviously vagrant.
Now she was a wife and (maybe) soon a mother, and her husband was gone in the mines until what would normally be dark (it doesn’t get very dark in Alaska during the summer – just dusky and spooky and late). Blake was beautiful of course, and Justine loved him. She simply wanted to be held by him all day, so that the demons and dragons in her head would stop their relentless breathing down her neck. But of course he had to work and she had to be by herself in the foreman’s cottage with her thoughts and the fresh air and winds and sky surrounding her. And that’s why, when Adam accidentally touched her hand when she was passing him a bowl of half-eaten bread while cleaning up after that fateful dinner (with Blake in the living room fiddling with the radio), she decided to grab Adam’s hand and hold it. She held it for a long time, and let the waves of pheromones and electricity pulse between their bodies a few magical seconds, and then she met his gaze (which was almost like a religious zealot’s at this point – he was like Rasputin in love), and gently pulled his hand below her apron. And that’s how it started.