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A Pair Of Hands

“I can see you hiding there.” The sculptor sighed putting away the hammer and chisel. It was humid inside the workshop, lit by muted studio lights. An earthy scent clung to everything. The girl sat poised between the two busts, coppery ringlets brushed sideways across her forehead.

Still in a cotton shift paired with the workshop’s mustard brown apron, she gazed straight at him. Cornflower blue eyes balanced the copper in her hair, flushed porcelain skin with rosy lips to match. A dark mole under her left eye enhanced her features. A living beauty between lifeless stone.

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Though the sculptor prided his work, he was rooted in reality. A statue was stone, shaped and polished after endless hours of labour. Every curl had to be perfect, every crease in the folds had to be intentional. People had no such qualms. They could be content, existing in imperfections. Yet this girl…

He watched her a moment more before saying, “Your work hours are over. Go home. A young girl like you ought to have social life.” It felt silly, like he was lecturing a daughter. A family, he had none. Married to his craft, hewing and shaping stone for wealthy clients, surrounded by marble his life went on no matter how exciting it got outside.

The girl dropped her gaze, saying nothing.

“Go on, you can’t really be here.” The old man shifted, walking towards his workstation. The latest bust stood with uneven chips jutting from the marble. Business flourished in a way that allowed him to hire others.

A modelling team that worked with clay. A team of students that had perfected the art under his tutelage for years. The girl worked with clay. Her dainty hands made exquisite pieces that drew admiration from other apprentices. The youngest and the most talented of his workers.

Yet he preferred working alone. Into the night in the silence of the gray walls, the sculptures seemed to speak to him as he focused on his craft.

“Do you know why I like this place?” The girl asked.

“I can’t imagine you like it because of me.” He replied dryly.

“Don’t you know the story of Pygmalion?” Her tone grew sharp. The sculptor glanced at her. There she sat. Still as one of those busts. Playing make believe. His instruments made music as he worked.

“Who doesn’t? A man that fell in love with a statue of his making.”

“Sometimes I think if I stay very still, I can become a sculpture, again.” Her gaze remained fixed onto his back.

The old man raised his eyebrows, feeling an uncomfortable rush of anxiety. Perhaps being too absorbed into an art, devoting your soul to it had such disastrous consequences.

“Clara,” He intoned using her name, “please go home.”

A pause. The sculptor waited with bated breath. A sigh. He heard the rustling of clothing and watched out of the corner of his eye as Clara left the workshop with an expressionless face. The door shut softly at her exit.

The sculptor sank down into his chair drawing a weary breath. A pair of hands was all he’d begged for during his struggling years. A pair of hands was what he got. A dainty pair of hands he’d crafted from the purest marble attached to a flawless comely maiden. The only life-size image he had ever made.

Like Pygmalion he’d fallen for the ruse.

Creating a girl that would not age nor revert to stone.

A blessing and a curse for both.

Written for Sadje’s WDYS#168/#YDPrompt#Ruse.


Published by Aboli Mane

Poet. Writer. Blogger. I post short reads, and poetry on A Writer In The Room. I published my debut poetry book "An Aster's Solitude" in 2019. Currently: Writing my first novel, an animal fantasy in a fictional world. Follow me to keep yourself updated.

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