An Echo Through Time
by Nelson Vicens
It was in the eyes. Something had changed. Perhaps the curve of the pupil, the sterned overhang of the brow. I put the chisel down and stepped back a few feet.
I stood still as my statue, observing closely the cold eyes staring back at me. Neither of us blinked. His frozen glare wrapped itself round some distant plane behind me, but when I turned to the light of the window I saw only glowing drapes.
The white marble figure before me was half-formed, a man’s torso jutting from a chipped abyss like a crippled centaur. My incomplete masterpiece. The source of the gnawing agony within me which drew me to the slab each day and each night. It had been calling to me, this man, his posture and his stare and now it had taken a life of its own. As if with one blow, one misaligned chip, and the work of countless hours and passionate laboring betrayed who I thought it was.
I paced to the crooked wooden table by the window and grabbed hold of my cigarettes, constantly aware of the stranger in the room. I turned around suddenly, as if perhaps he’d moved, but he didn’t. It was just as alien as I left it. I needed fresh air.
The light outside blinded my eyes, stretching the corneas ‘till I shut them back in to the oblivion of darkness I call home. For weeks inside me roared some apparition, waiting to be birthed. I listened closely to its yearnings, its shape and its texture- the home of its glare, and I began to clobber away at the hunk of bare marble that had been consuming the center of my studio for months.
I knew, better yet- it knew, this would be the culmination of my life’s achievements. All roads had led to this moment, the realization of my most profound creation. Day and night I chiseled, carefully attuned to the consistency of the stone, a slave to the soul forming before me. Like lovers we spoke through sensation, silent but true- bare to the white bone of the slab I hit home the hammer and removed another bar of his cell. Like this we danced for time unimaginable, for there were no passing hours- the sun’s route like a shade to his hue. Together we owned each moment, each of us half-finished. Inseparable, I gave him my heart- and he lost it.
I took another drag from my cigarette. Perhaps my vision had grown weary. I realized I hadn’t eaten since I’d freed his arm. It was unlike me, to forgo the outline of the figure and dive right in to the details, but his eyes… I had to realize the eyes.
After a quick meal down the street I hurried back to my apartment, eager to be whole again. With recovering strength, I burst through the door, shut it behind me to echo in the empty space of my studio. Sun spreading itself through the room, feeling out all the corners, outlining the weightless dust that now solely occupied the caverns of my heart. No statue to be seen.
The locks were intact, the window unbroken, and so I scavenged the bones of my home. The bathroom, the basement, the bedroom clean swept- no sign of the hulking presence of my other half. Had it been stolen? Had I imagined the feverish pursuit of my being for so long? Impossible. I knew somewhere it had to exist like a memory unremembered, so retrievable yet distant it was.
That night, sleep was as impossible as its disappearance. I tossed and turned, bursting with an energy to create- to shape my vision at last. I carried the chisel with me like a lost soldier, disregarding the crumbs it shed on the sheets. Inside I was tearing, yearning, begging for an outlet of my effort but I could only cave in to myself, over and over again. Thoughts raced within me and my soul pounded at the boundary of my skin as I lay motionless. Each minute a millennium, each second eternity- I had to release when I heard it breathing at the end of my bed. I didn’t have to turn my head to know it loomed over me like a tombstone.
“Why have you abandoned me?” it whispered heavy with the weight of its first awakening.
I looked up and stared at the blank ceiling.
Shuffling out, dripping with sweat, I re-entered the studio. There he was, waiting for the chisel.
In a furious daze I chipped away, swinging the hammer left and right, seizing the unknown window of its appearance. Flakes of marble flung past my eyes, my hands growing numb by the grip on the tools. The air was still like stone, so thick it was with the debris of my toil. From the grasp of the granite his stance took shape, and like a monk in awe I was of its glory. Each centimeter exposed, like lightning, I struck its advancement until dawn breached the lip of the window and the sun bled life in to the pores of the stone.
I stepped back punch-drunk, lifting my head to the scrutiny of the statue. There he was, beautiful as foretold by the muses, mystified in its own splendor- staring beyond me in to the sun. His body was rough, hacked at passionate angles along the outline of his stature- quaking the room with its silent thunder. I stepped closer and aligned myself with the aura of the statue’s eyes, lost in the mysteries of his vision- pondering what secrets it contained, when legs grew stiff and before I could turn away, my face ached with the locked expression of my quisitive gaze. My muscles tightened and I exhaled my final breath- my lungs unable to expand with the encroaching moment captured. I stood before him, frozen on the precipice.
His head slowly turned to me, grinding the boulder along its way, and he met my gaze.