by Starsky Hutch 76
More time passed, and Jamie finally reached a point where he didn’t see how he could possibly improve upon her, his sculpture. If he tried to do anything else, he would run the risk of creating flaws, and he would sooner bring harm to himself than to her. It was time for the firing.
Through the whole process, he was a nervous wreck. He paced back and forth during the whole of the duration she had to spend in the kiln. What if something happened to her during the firing? The concept was too horrifying to think of. Sometimes clay could crack and break apart during a firing. Sometimes, air trapped inside could bubble to the surface, where it would pop, leaving a crater. He prayed that nothing like that would happen here.
When he removed her from the kiln, he was overjoyed to see that she was unharmed. The firing had been a complete success. Her skin was completely unmarked, without the slightest imperfection to mar her flawless beauty.
Jamie began to add layers of paint to try to make her more realistic. Layer after layer of paint was added to her surface in an attempt to create the appearance of smooth skin. He needed to put on enough paint to rid her of the appearance of being made of clay. As the layers grew into the hundreds, it became impossible to tell the difference between her and a live woman.
His pride in her appearance was overwhelming. It filled his heart until he thought it would burst. She was so perfect. It was beyond belief. The fact that he had made her from his own two hands made it all the more perfect. She was a part of him, a product of his love.
Jamie finally collapsed from exhaustion. In his fervor of creativity, sleep had become a distant memory. He had finally reached the point where his body could no longer keep up with the pace he had sustained for the last several weeks.
The sleep he entered was so deep that he didn’t hear Laura sneaking into his studio. She wasn’t very adept at this sort of espionage, so she found herself tripping over art supplies and crunching fast food delivery cartons underneath her feet. His sleep was so deep, though, that he didn’t hear the racket she was making.
She walked over to the center of the large room toward the sculpture that was hidden underneath the drop cloth. The bat she was carrying in her left hand tapped lightly against the side of her leg as she moved toward it. When she yanked off the drop cloth, her jaw dropped in shock.
The statue underneath seemed real in every way. There was no visible difference between her and an actual live woman, aside from the fact that she possessed a radiance that made her seem to glow. Laura even saw tiny pores in the skin. Eerily, it seemed as if the statue were almost breathing.
This was beyond anything Jamie had ever been capable of. She knew Jamie was good, but this was too good. Not even Michelangelo was this good. It made his statue of David seem like a child’s play dough figure.
Laura almost regretted what she had to do. She looked over to the sofa where Jamie lay collapsed in a heap, and she felt a pang of sadness. He would never understand. He had always said she never took his art seriously, and this might prove it to him. This was his best work, and she was about to destroy it. Hell, it was the best work anyone had ever done. He might hate her for it. He had formed an unhealthy obsession for the statue, though, and this was the only way to break him of it. He had spent over five weeks locked in his studio loft. If she didn’t free him of his sickness, he might never leave. This was the only way to set him free. She had to do it because of her love for him, even if it meant he would end up hating her.
She reared back with the bat, ready to smash the statue. The eyelids of the sculpture suddenly popped open and stared angrily at her with piercing, pale blue eyes. The bat fell to the floor with a hollow aluminum thud.
Jamie was wrested out of his slumber by a quiet, soft voice that came to him breathlessly, whispering into his ear, “Jamie… please help me, Jamie. I need you.” He rose up groggily and saw Laura picking her bat up off the floor.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” Jamie exclaimed, rushing over to grab her.
“Its eyes! It opened its eyes! The thing’s alive!” Laura shrieked frantically.
“Now who’s lost their mind? You’re the one who’s obsessed with it. I can’t believe you broke in here and were going to smash her. My God! You were trying to convince me I was crazy, when you’re capable of something like this!”
“Please, Jamie. Don’t be mad at me. I had to do it,” Laura pleaded. “I had to get rid of her so that we could be together again.”
“There’s no way that’s going to happen now. This is the final straw. What you tried to do is unforgivable!” Jamie bellowed.
“I did it for you,” she sobbed. “She’s taking over your life.”
“There you go again, anthropomorphizing her. She’s a statue!“
“She’s alive. I saw her open her eyes! She looked right at me!”
“You’re insane! This is the most pitiful thing I’ve ever seen! You’re jealous of a statue! Since you couldn’t get rid of her, you think you can scare me into doing it! This is beyond belief. You’re demented. This is one of those fatal attraction things!” Jamie grabbed her arm and started to march her to the door. “I want your ass out of here right now!”
“I’m not crazy!” she sniffed. “It really happened. She’s not just a statue. There’s something unnatural about her.”
“Oh, please,” Jamie groaned, rubbing his head wearily. “Laura, would you please just stop?”
“You can’t stay here with her. There’s something wrong with her. I’m scared, Jamie. Please don’t stay here with her. Come home with me.”
“Come home with you? With you?!” he shouted, opening the front door. “I never want to see you again. When you try to destroy my work, you’re trying to destroy a part of me! I’m sure you wouldn’t understand that, though, since you’ve never taken my work seriously, anyway!” He pushed her through the doorway and snarled, “Don’t try to call me. I’m going to have my number changed, and I really don’t want to hear from you.”
Jamie slammed the door on her and then leaned against the door, emotionally exhausted, with his arm draped across his forehead. “God, why can’t I ever meet anyone stable?“
He walked over to the statue, checking to make sure she wasn’t damaged. He ran his hand lovingly along the side of her face and traced his finger along her lips. Overcome with passion, he dropped to his knees and embraced her. Tears welled up in his eyes and ran down his face. “Oh, God. She’s right. I am obsessed with you. If only she was right. If only you really were alive.”
The cold stone she was made of suddenly felt soft, warm, and alive. He felt arms embrace him and fingers run through his hair. He looked up and saw her looking up at him with love in her eyes.
“She was telling the truth,” he gasped, emotion choking his voice.
She put her hands on the sides of his face. “We can,” she said in a melodious voice. She then brought his face up to hers and kissed him with a feverish ardor.
The next day, Laura had Jamie’s landlord unlock his studio door, telling him that she thought he was in trouble. “I hope you’re right about this, miss. I know these artist types like their privacy. I don’t want you getting him pissed off at me. I mean, I don’t hope he’s in trouble. I mean… you know what I mean.”
“I’m sure I’m right. I can’t go into all the details, because you’d think I was crazy, but I have to make sure he’s OK.”
She looked toward the center of the room and saw the familiar drop cloth underneath. She moved toward it slowly, afraid to approach it after seeing it open its eyes the night before.
“Is that the statue he was working on?” the landlord asked.
“Yeah,” Laura replied meekly, touching the canvas drop cloth.
“Well, let’s see it! I heard him talking about it before he got started, but I haven’t seen or heard from him since then, and I’ve been real curious.” He walked over and ripped off the drop cloth.
Laura covered her mouth, stifling a scream. Her eyes grew wide with fear as she stared at the two figures caught in an embrace.
“Hey! That’s pretty good!” the landlord commented. “It looks just like him. I didn’t know he was going to do a self-portrait. Who’s the chick?”
Laura walked toward the statue and Jamie. She touched his shoulder and hoped he would turn around, but all she felt was cold stone.