“Tell me your story.” Vic whispered to the lady, staring into the statue’s unmoving eyes. He had visited the museum every day for weeks now, solely to obsess over this statue.
Furtively checking he was alone, he leant forward and quickly kissed the lady on the lips. She felt cold, much colder than the marble should be, and Vic’s feet give way under him. He tumbled into darkness.
What? Was I struck?
Vision slowly returned to Vic. He was no longer in the museum, rather he stood in a low ceilinged workshop, surrounded by massive slabs of marble. Stinking lamps burned in wall sockets. Sounds echoed around the space, horse-hooves on cobblestones, foreign shouts of a nearby marketplace, a ring-ring-ring of hammer and chisel on stone. This last came from the next room, and Vic carefully approached, delighted to have his wish granted.
The room was large and mostly bare except for a partly carved slab of marble, two people, and thick velvet curtains around the edges. Vic hid behind these curtains, careful to not interrupt the two inhabitants; the sculptor and the lady.
The sculptor was singularly unimpressive. Exceptionally short, almost a dwarf, and filthy, a foetid odour assailing Vic’s nostrils. For all his unkemptness, the sculptor worked like a demon, hacking into the stone like it had offended him, beating the freshly quarried marble into submission. The sculptor danced around his marble, attacking it, glaring at the lady with every strike.
The lady… oh, the lady. Like her marble counterpart, she posed naked but for a sheet tied around the waist, one arm twirling her hair, the other clasping a clay urn. Vic drank her in; everything else faded. He studied every aspect of her; her half-smile, her perfect curves…
The discolouration on her arms and wrists.
Who would dare bruise my goddess?
This was soon answered; she had posed for hours, arms raised; her muscles burned. When she inevitably flagged, the sculptor would scream at her in Italian, and viciously jab with the hammer.
Vic’s mind reeled. The desire to launch himself at the seething gargoyle, to save his lady, was overwhelming… but what about the statue? When he returned, what would be left for him? Could he deny himself?
Holding back a sob, Vic bit his hand as the argument escalated. The lady was begging now, pleading, whilst the stunted artist screamed and rained blows on her defenceless body.
He’ll kill her! What should I do? God, I can’t decide what I should do!
But Vic’s decision had already been made. His decision was exposed by every unanswered strike against her, by her every cry while he stood, a statue, as she was murdered.
With a final blow, the lady slumped forward. Vic stared into her unmoving eyes…and fell into darkness. The story was told; he was returned.
Vic stood at the statue until closing, until he was asked to leave.
“I’m sorry.” he whispered, but he could no longer meet her eyes.
(Word Count 499)
Ah, this piece was troublesome. I actually wrote it twice – I think this is the better one. It was intended to do double duty:
- a Jacopo della Quercia #PopQuizHotShot challenge. But I think I took too long, and its not a funny piece, which is what I normally try to target for the #PopQuizHotShot challenges (Jacopo writes for Cracked). It is also a day late (I prefer to turn Jacopo’s challenges around within a few hours if I’m going to give them a shot – twitter has a short attention span).
- additionally P.S. Hoffman challenged his readers to write a 500 word piece that had an ‘internal conflict’ that is a character with two contrasting and conflicting motivations. Now this story has this conflict (Vic’s desire to save her vs Vic’s desire to ensure the statue is created), but… the conflict is late in the piece, it comes up in the last 150 words. I’m just not sure if it hits the target; it’s a glancing shot, not a clean kill.
So I have a story I have written twice, supposed to do two things and perhaps doing none, but hell, I’m still posting it. I like the idea, and I think its not terribly written. That said, 500 words is a cruel limit for fiction, and this feels truncated to me.
Of course, I could be wrong, it could be as ugly as a bucket of smashed crabs, so let me know what you think in the comments. All feedback is appreciated.