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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Other · #1359809
An artist and his obsession...

                                                           Words: 1,100

The light falling through the window fractured as it hit the floor, carrying particles of dust and fluff and magnifying them, making them look like fairies so tiny as to be almost invisible, floating on the single beam of light.

Jonathan barely saw the light, barely saw the day dawn, barely saw anything but the clay under his hands and the shape hidden in the clay. He had to unearth that shape. He had to make it live.

This shape was the same as all the others had been of late. Since Elsa had gone, Jon found himself seeing her again and again in the leaves scattered on the ground, fallen from trees gripped by autumn. He saw her in the clouds drifting across a pale blue sky, in the contours of the wood of his door, in the sun's reflection on the river. He couldn't escape her face. Every lump of clay, every canvas he looked at had her hidden beneath the surface like a diamond in a rock.

Against the walls, across the floor, stacked in some places to the roof, there were copies of Elsa in various states of emotion. Some showed her smiling, others pensive, still others showed her crying. But she was there in all of them, making his studio look like a house of mirrors, all reflecting that one beloved face.

Jon had eyes only for the reddish-brown clay under his fingers, wondering at the way that even this long after she had left him, he could still see her as clearly as if they had parted only yesterday. Elsa's features and the curves of her body were forming under his hand, the body he had known better than he knew his own.

Jon worked, sweat dripping off his brow and into his eyes, living and reliving in his memory all those crazy, upside down and inside out days he had had with her. He was again seeing her hair catch fire as the setting sun caught it, seeing again her hazel eyes fill with tears when all the laughter, all the fear, all the passion that had been such an integral part of her character, became too overwhelming.

It may have been that very passion which had caused things to turn out as they had. Jon didn't know, and he couldn't dare to speculate too much. Elsa never knew that he knew, never suspected that he started regarding her frequent excuses of late nights at the gallery with growing suspicion, until finally one night after draining himself on canvas, he had taken the steps that eventually led to the end of their dance. He went to the gallery, and there wasn't even a rumble in the ground as his entire world shifted on its axis.

The memory of her body, intertwined with that of another man, had been seared into his memory. Every time he closed his eyes, that was all he could see, all he could think of. He became obsessed with finding out who this person was, consumed by incoherent thoughts of revenge and violence, until one night he returned from his nightly investigation to find that Elsa had left him a note.

Dear Jon, it said.

Something has left us, and I don't think we can get it back. The fire has been gone for some time now, but I've stayed in the hope that it would return with the suddenness with which it left. However, I am tired of waiting. The time has come, as we knew it must, for me to fly my own way.

I want you to know that I always loved you, and a part of me always will be

Forever your

He had tried to talk to her, tried to reason with her, all to no avail, until that night. He had gone to the gallery that morning hoping to talk to her once more, hoping that this time he could make her see. They told him that she was on her way to Paris for an indefinite period of time. They gave him her new cell phone number, and he called her from a phone booth, somehow convincing her to stop by his studio before she left to say goodbye.

She had been shocked when she saw him, and uncomfortable, but he had been at his most charming, his most winning. Still, she was a rock, and he the ocean that kept breaking against her.

The sculpture under his fingers was starting to take on life now, the features of her face almost moving, the chest almost rising and falling with her breath. If only she had given in. If only she had been willing to give it just one more chance. Why couldn’t she understand that she was his world, his life, his soul?

She had been unnerved at all the copies of her, copies as life-like as photos yet as lifeless as the cold glass of a mirror. It was her he needed. He knew that only by regaining her could he be free of repeating her endlessly the way he had been, but she had only looked at the canvasses and sculptured repetitions of herself and tried to leave. He couldn't let her.

She had been scared, he remembered that, and he also remembered being hurt by her fear. After that, he could recall only frozen moments, snapshots. Her hands raised to protect her face. The purple bruise around her neck, vivid against her pale skin. Her eyes turning as lifeless as the sculptures he had made.

She had wanted to leave, and he couldn't allow that. He needed her. He couldn't let her leave.

She had made a faint splash as he rolled her into the river. He remembered that. He didn't remember going back home, couldn't remember the next few days at all.

There must have been an investigation, but evidently he had been convincing, for he never heard anything more about it. He had lounged in his bed, dreaming of her even while awake. At last, the sight of her face on his eyelids drove him back to the studio, back to his canvass and paint and clay.

Jon sat back, appraising his work. It was only a copy! Again, he was crushed to find it remained only a copy. The life he thought he spotted earlier had fled entirely, so that only one more repetition remained, cold and lifeless as glass. Still, he thought. Maybe the next one could be the last. Maybe the next one could finally set him free.

With a sigh, Jon mixed a palette and went back to work.
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