She warms up with paints she brought up from civilization. She splats and mushes and pushes it around canvas that she had Wells Fargoed up when the summer began; she knew it would be spectacular. She works with her brushes and then throws them in a tin can and moves the paint around with her fingers, as if she were a child and this were her mother’s kitchen instead of her own. She takes the canvas off of the easel that Blake bought her in Anchorage and sails it down to the parquet floor. It lands with a whoosh and a phlump and a whack. It’s a large canvas, a great big stretched piece of it and Justine especially enjoys tightening the frame with the little frame screws. The mechanics and the background and the supplies of painting bring out more pleasure than a pristinely finished painting ever could. She sets to work on the floor, swirling blue, red, black, white; making the perfect purple to emulate the lupine that’s just arrived in the valley.

There’s a little window off the kitchen that brings in some decent morning light and then progressively intensifies throughout the day and most of the evening, turning to forever twilight around ten o’ clock. She was trying to paint the light, but though she had a lovely vision and a lot of skill, her hands and fingers fumbled at getting colors and shapes just as she wanted. The flowers looked like something a child might paint, something that would draw praise from a parent, not something from someone who had attended art school. This is why Justine was now painting on the floor with her fingers.

Blake had given her a warning the night before. He missed her spark, her blissful sighs as they lay next to one another in their tiny bed. He felt she was growing too isolated –

“We leave here soon or you’re going back by yourself. It’s too much for you up here, I’ve asked too much of you to be so far away.”

Justine rolled over toward Blake, her face resting on her upper arm (which usually left a smudge of her mascara like a bruise on her skin), “I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be without you. I’m fine here. I mean,  I have the other wives…and you after six o’clock.” She said this with calm, with sweetness and light. Inside she was seething/screaming –

“Oh……..please we can’t go and you can’t go and we can’t go I love you too much but you’ll find out soon but maybe we should leave now before it’s too late before I can’t stop the pull…”

What if everyone spoke in the rhythmic rhyme and scattered fragmented sentences that we think in? Would we allow that sort of raw emotion and raw passion to be our every day ho-hum existence? Should we try it, just to say we did? It could have helped Justine out a great deal, it could have saved her a lot of pain and confusion. She would have stopped being such a lyrical bore. I’m afraid her time of ruminating is drawing to a close. Something is coming to the valley that will stop Justine and Adam in their hesitant and guilt-ridden tracks. And the best thing? That something doesn’t have the slightest clue that she’s the powder keg that will begin and end it all.

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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