The object I kept for too long
It’s a poignant scene. The pet dog, a collie, interceding on behalf of a little girl standing in the corner. He begs for his mistress to be released from her punishment.
The piece of art is called A Special Pleader, and they sold reproductions in the 1980s. Granddad adored the picture, and he gifted me one to hang in my first home.
After I had children, he would point to the print on the wall and tell them stories about my childhood pet collie, Taurus. Then he would launch into a monologue about his interpretation of the artwork. He would lament the little girl’s plight.
“Look how sad she is, what could she have done wrong?” he would ask and answer, “Even the dog knows the little girl doesn’t deserve such a harsh sentence.”
This was priceless coming from the man who never hesitated to wield his belt on my body when I was a child.
I quit hanging the picture in my home in the 1990s, yet with every household move, it came along. Someone dropped it once, and the glass cracked, yet I kept it.
In 2016, I converted the spare bedroom, a storage area for junk, into a dedicated studio. During the haul out, I picked up the print and the frame released its broken glass. I still kept it, this lighter version, hidden in the back of a closet.
Once the room was empty, I painted walls and dubbed it Studio BE. After a few years of using the reclaimed space, of honoring my creativity, the dormant artist within wakened and the desire to purge the old to make way for the new resurfaced.
I retrieved the gift from the back of the closet and leaned it against the waste can by the curb. Back in my studio, I sat by the window and stared at the object relegated to the trash. The painting I had toted 35 years of my life—if I let it go, will I still be the same? I hoped not.
I turned from the window and picked up a paintbrush. I didn’t even notice when the truck took it away.
This is the 48th story in the Objects as Waypoints Writing Project series.