Everyone has secrets.
But none of them are as creative as mine.
The room is cold, my breath pluming. Clear, hard ice glazes the windowpanes, distorting the early morning light. The painted walls are chipping, leaving flakes of light blue on the hardwood floor. I pick them up whenever I see them – I need my workspace clean.
As I sit on the wooden chair, I look at the metal tree in the center of the room. It shines brilliantly in the sunlight. I’ve put more than two hundred hours into this. I think it’s the best piece I’ve ever created – the tree that represents life with death at its center.
The shining roots are spread across the floor. One is wrapped around the leg of my chair as if it is trying to reach for the life within me.
I wonder what they would say if they saw me now.
My eyes are drawn to the clock embedded in her chest. The gold face of it contrasts with the pallor of her dead skin. I stand and walk over, fixing a leaf that is encroaching on her angelic face.
“There. Better,” I say.
Her long, blonde hair is braided, falling over her shoulder through the bent wires, and a chaplet of pink, dried flowers sits atop her head, crowning her heavenliness. One arm hangs at her side, palm turned upwards as if she were receiving a gift, wires thrusting from her fingertips to twine into sturdy branches.
She stands there, a nymph, looking curiously out from the safety of her habitat, though her blue eyes are frosty now with death. The vines that I had clothed her in are brown and shrunken, and I adjust them so they are less revealing. Her skin is cold... so cold, but exquisitely smooth, like polished oak.
“You are so beautiful,” I whisper.
My eyes move from hers, and I study the fresh flowers that protrude from her abdomen: blue iris to purify her soul; green bog myrtle to help her to the other side; pink foxglove to exhibit the toxicity of life.
I go back to my chair and sit quietly. I imagine she is a beautiful messenger of God – come back from the heavens to guide me.
I glance at the clock. Five seconds till eight.
I scan my masterpiece, knowing that no one could ever do better than I have done – knowing that someday, someone will look at my work and appreciate it as I do.
Then I see it. One of the bell-shaped petals of the foxglove is creased, an ugly blistering scar. A paralytic fear grips me, and I am angry.
“No,” I whisper.
I scream – the sudden harshness of it startles me but I can’t stop. I storm to the tree and tear the blossoms from her stomach.
Why? Why hadn’t I seen it before? All this time wasted.
My legacy is burning now… burning.
By Kaydin Lechowicz