Short story: Breathless

sculpture

It was cold in the studio, breath steaming, her fingers frozen rigid around the chisel. The mallet beat a rhythm and the chisel moved, but she was simply the conduit for the metal point and the stone; even if her eyes were shut, she felt sure that the fossilised lovers would be uncovered – hidden in the centre of the creamy white interior for 145 million years.

When enough of their secret had been revealed, when they could breathe once more, she put down her tools and went indoors. Time to get warm and carve some words.

***

This week Rochelle Wisoff-Fields chose a photograph of one of my sculptures for our Friday Fictioneers writing prompt. I’m really excited to see what stories come out of it. To join in or, or to read everyone else’s stories, click here.

This is a limestone sculpture I did some time ago and the picture was taken when I was about half-way through the carving. The black ‘heart’ on the side is simply me working out in charcoal the shape of the sculpture as I go along – you can also see black lines on the one of the face’s eyebrow and eye lid, which show me where to carve.

95 thoughts on “Short story: Breathless

  1. It’s a great work, but I personally don’t see lovers. I see an outgrowth of the person in the foreground, a projection of another aspect of his/her personality normally hidden away. And that hidden persona is meditating upon the person that all others see. Very fascinating…

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  2. That’s a beautiful story and a great sculpture too. Thank you for submitting the picture. I like that you had the idea of carving with their eyes closed too, although yours was a bit more romantic. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. i love your use of words…and that romance and secrets were unveiled… and then that last line…
    and great artwork, btw.. thank you for sharing it with us. i’m sure it inspired plenty of fantastic stories

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  4. Beautiful story, beautiful sculpture. We have an artist daughter and she brings life out of wood and prints it. My uncle reaches onto canvas with watercolors and tells a story. We may hear/see different stories, but they are still stories created by the art.

    janet

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    • Hmm, well, I have applied a bit of artistic licence. I have stopped sculpting recently to do the writing – I just can’t fit both in. So I’ve put down my chisels to go and write some words permanently at the moment.

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  5. Dear Claire,

    I can relate to your artist in your story. The chisel freeing the lovers was a great touch and the carving of words was oh, so fine.

    Thank you for the beautiful prompt this week.

    Aloha,

    Doug

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  6. This reveals something of the artist’s process — to discover and disclose what is already there, as opposed to creating something fictional or new. Also loved the line about carving words. A wonderfully personal story, brilliantly told. The sculpture is brilliant as well. You are an amazing talent!

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    • I guess that is what we’re doing. We write something, we chisel away at it, removing a bit here, changing a bit there until we’re happy. The only difference is that if you accidently chop off the nose when you’re writing, it’s a simple process to write it back in…

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  7. Wow at the sculpture really… I have no artistic bone in me, so when I see work like this, I am super impressed.

    Love the flow of the words too, very well done. Thanks for sharing the picture, and stopping by mine ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. You say you were half finished when this photo was taken–would like to see a pic of the completed work (although I must say, I like the emerging faces). Good artwork, good story, good prompt.

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  9. This seemed autobiographical.
    As beautiful as the sculptures you carved. Every sentence of your writing shows your passion for your art and your words.
    “the fossilised lovers would be uncovered โ€“ hidden in the centre of the creamy white interior for 145 million years”
    “When enough of their secret had been revealed, when they could breathe once more, ”
    Spoken like an honest and passionate artist. Thanks for the unique prompt this week. Respect!

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    • Thanks Parul. The story is autobiographical, at a stretch. I stopped carving some time ago so that I can write, rather than doing both at the same time. I’m pleased you enjoyed the sculpture and the story.

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  10. Trying to be both artist and writer myself I know how difficult it is to try to follow the dictates of more than one ‘muse’! But that the one informs the other. But in the end, one discipline informs the other. Multiple l muses just different facets of the same ‘goddess’ – perhaps as you show in your sculpture? And as you’ve shown here, the process is the same, it’s only the materials that differ. Thanks for the photo. Ann

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  11. Claire- The depth of your talent is amazing. Like writing the sculpture will be interpreted many ways by many people. You have pulled back the curtain to give us insight into the mid of the stone artist. Tanks for sharing your talent and you phot with us.

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  12. Hi Claire,
    Always interesting to see what the photographer will write about her own photo. You don’t disappoint. Great job of describing the creative process. I’ve had times when I felt like I was just the channel, and I was amazed at what flowed through me. Must be great to be so multi-talented. Ron

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  13. Beautiful work and great story. Loved the part about her being a conduit and also about the fossilized lovers. And thanks for indirectly teaching us a bit about sculpting! Btw, I incorporated the heart in my story.

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  14. First I want to thank you for the inspirational piece. It is truly an artistic work I would enjoy in my home. It is interesting how the art work in and of itself has waited these many years to be discovered. It is as if – it knows that it lies beneath. The wait was for the artist to see and noticed. Therefore the art is speaking to the artist. Nicely done!!!

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  15. “when they could breathe once more” – that’s a great line! I enjoyed your description of the artist at work, and I like it even better now that I’ve read the rest of your post and realize that you’re the sculptor. And thank you for explaining the heart! I did notice the other lines, and wondered if someone had vandalized the piece.

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  16. And the Main Character is… Claire! Thank you for describing the process, I loved the freeing from stone… and then going out to ‘carve words’.

    How about a photo of the finished statue?

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  17. Dear Claire,
    Thank you for the photo and your story. I love the idea of the artist revealing rather than creating. As a sometime silversmith, I can also relate to ‘fingers frozen rigid around…’. Lovely work.

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  18. Dear Claire,
    I’ve heard of multi-tasking, but this is ridiculous. You’ve excelled in two artistic fields while I struggle for mediocrity in one. Thank you for letting us use your photo. I had a blast with it.

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  19. A poetic descriptive piece, Claire. Nicely done. It’s an interesting sculpture too – I’d love to see a picture of the finished work. The only crit I can come up with is that the second sentence is very long. Maybe a break somewhere would make it read more easily. But that’s a tiny thing – I loved this story.

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  20. Thanks for the photo of your work, it proved to be a great prompt and provoked a wide range of wonderful responses. Your own tale has a haunting spiritual quality about it. It has an honesty too coming, as it does. from someone who works in this medium.

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  21. Love finding out about the work, I hadn’t noticed the black lines until now, of course I saw the heart, that drifts into the focal point for the sub-text of my story.
    Liked the writing and the idea of carving words!

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