Dorrica dabbed her paintbrush in the blue watercolor swimming on her pallete, then swirled it with the black. On the canvas in front of her she carefully brushed out the curve of the cockatoo’s beak, then added some shadows to the palm frond where his gray feet curled. Another swirl, this one with more black, and she touched in the dark circle of his eye, leaving a bright highlight.
“Dorrica Lantos?” the school secretary called from the doorway.
Startled, Dorrica let her brush splay, spraying flecks of dark paint across the cockatoo’s perfect white body. She gasped.
Everyone in the room stopped painting and stared at the woman in the doorway.
“Dorrica, please gather all your things and come to the office. You will not be returning.” The woman said.
Numbly, Dorrica set down the palette on the desk beside her easel. She noticed the others staring at her now, whispering to each other. She knew what they were saying, but it wasn’t true. She wasn’t being taken out of school because her uncle couldn’t afford to pay the tuition. It wasn’t that. It couldn’t be.
She slowly took off her painter’s smock, that belonged to the school, and gathered her brushes, those were hers. Her sketchbooks, her pencils, she kept her chin up and tried to hold back angry tears as she marched from the room and down the hall to the office.
“I received a telephone call from your uncle,” the secretary said, cold as ice. “You’re needed at home. Your uncle will be here to pick you up in a few minutes.”
Dorrica watched the palm trees and white houses roll by out her uncle’s car window. She kept her self turned away from him so he wouldn’t see the silent tears streaming down her face.
“It won’t be long, Dorrica,” Uncle Istvan said. “Only until things get better. Then you can go back to school.”
Dorrica had heard something like that before. Mother won’t be in the sanatorium long, only until she gets better. Mother was better, she had been better for over a year now, but she still hadn’t come home, and Dorrica was still living with Uncle Istvan and Aunt Rosa, who had taken her out of art school.
That thought nearly brought fresh tears as Dorrica followed uncle Istvan up the front steps. When the door opened she heard her aunt’s voice call.
“Is that you, Istvan? About time! Send Dorrica back here!”
Boxes and stacks of colored tissue paper lined the spare room that had been turned into a shop. Aunt Rosa was in the back, surrounded by red paper poppies with wire stems.
“Quickly, we have to get these arranged in vases and to the studio by one o’clock,” Aunt Rosa ordered. “Well, why are you just standing there?”