Halloween Fiction: the sculptor: 5 of 11

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Christmas and New Years Eve came and went, with Thomas alone in their apartment and Moira sedated and hospitalized.  He spent Valentine’s day staring at their wedding pictures, and his birthday with his family listening powerlessly to his mother recite all the reasons why he should not have married Moira in the first place.  As the time had passed, his guilt and grief lessened to some degree, although he could not think about her without the sadness washing over him.

anger

After five months he stopped seeing her every day, after six months he was lucky to get there once a week.  Thomas still loved Moira, but he knew that she had become something totally different than the woman he had married.  He did not know what to do, how to cope with this loss.

The lease on their apartment ran out in spring, and Thomas spent a week of vacation days in their home, windows open so the sunlight poured into their rooms, packing up the life they had together.  He poured over pictures and momentos, still sorrowful, but finally feeling nearly blameless.  As he folded her clothes, he held them close, trying to smell her.  She had been gone so long, even her scent had faded away.  When he found her journals at the bottom of her closet, he began to read them.  Several books were from the early years of his marriage.  They made him nostalgic for the Moira he used to know, the woman he committed his life to.  In her beautiful script she recited tales about their love.  It reminded him of the good times, of how dynamic she was. Then, the entries changed as her madness took hold.  The anger he felt toward his wife flashed, as he found endless descriptions of her hallucinations, of encounters with her sculptures that she had not shared with him.  Even he had not realized how bad her delusions had been.  Her words were confessionals, admissions.  She had lied to everyone but these journals, letting Thomas, Ward, their friends, everyone believe her fear, her neuroses were minor.  Furious, he realized she had kept them from helping her because she was afraid of them, too: afraid of her own husband, of doctors, of hospitals, and especially of medications that would keep her normal.

For the first time, Thomas completely understood that Moira had wanted help only on one level.  She saw her hallucinations as nothing more inherently dangerous than having acute vision.  ‘If two men are hiking together and one man sees an angry bear charging toward them, but the other doesn’t, who should you believe?  Who should you question?  What should you do?  Would you trust the man who sees the bear and shoot it, or would you assume that he was hallucinating and investigate after you are dead?’  However real she believed her delusions were, though, she was as frightened of them as she could be.  Their tangibility made them more dangerous for her.  In her mind, there was no question that they were trying to destroy her.  Her fear coarsed through the pages of her journals.  She did not want to expunge her specialness, but she needed help stopping her creations.  She wanted the other hiker to shoot the bear before it gored them both to death.

Throwing the papers across the room, he cursed at her picture.  ‘How could you believe it!  Why didn’t you get better!’  Livid, he went to the journals and threw them in the trash can.  After banging some of Moira’s books into a box, his rage diminished a little with the noise and the effort.  More rational, he decided that he should pack up her writings for Ward and Kendle, an additional psychiatrist asked to consult on Moira’s case.  Resurrecting them from the bin, he glanced through them again.  His anger softened as he went over her even handwriting. Even at her most insane, she managed to keep her letters artfully formed and even. Rage turned to pity as he packed the memories into a box and labeled it ‘Moira’s journals.’  All of his tears had been shed, his rage had been spent.  He just felt terribly alone.  Before he resumed his packing, he turned on the television so it would seem like he had company.  Then he began boxing his books, things that would not remind him of Moira so much, things that would distract him.

It was past one in the morning before Thomas finally got to Moira’s sculptures.  Everything else had been packed, the movers were coming in the morning.  There was no more avoiding the task.  It bothered him, he did not want to look at them.  Since that conversation with Ward, they had remained locked away in the cupboard, hidden from view.  Her artwork proved to be too painful for Thomas to have around.  They gave evidence about how Moira failed him.

Slow with fatigue, he unlocked the doors and saw the sculptures there:  vivid, beautiful, but inert – still as death.  The truth was, he’d never repay liked them.  He always felt like he didn’t understand art, as though it was a bit of folly on its face.  Starting on the top row, he methodically picked them up, wrapped them in newspaper, and stuffed them into the boxes.  After the second piece, he did not even bother looking at them.  He could do the task through touch alone.  Ten pieces into the job, he let out a sigh of relief, it would not be as painful as he thought it would be.

Then, he cut himself on a piece.  It surprised him enough that he glanced at it.  In horror he realized that he was holding viciousness, a small, disheveled man covered in knives and guns.  Moira had insisted that he embodied all the violent urges in a person.   Certainly he looked vicious now, dripping with blood.  Thomas’ blood.  He threw the sculpture down onto the pile of newspaper on her work table and went to the bathroom to clean and bandage the cut.

When he got out of the bathroom, the sculpture was in the entrance to the hallway.  Fear washed through Thomas, before he reasoned out that it must’ve fallen down from the table and rolled out of the studio.  How it stopped rolling to land on its feet, Thomas could not quite explain, but he assured himself that there was a logical reason for it.  Gingerly, he picked the sculpture up and went back to the table.  He cut himself again, but this time he bound the piece up tightly in newspaper, roped he paper down with twine and put it in the open box on the table before he went to take care of the wound.

When he came back, it was outside the box, on the table, standing up again.  Thomas’ lost his breath for a moment, before he reasoned out that he must have thought he put it away but actually had not.  He was dreadfully tired after all.  He grabbed a cloth from the kitchen and came back.  The sculpture was on the floor, a few feet away from the desk.  ‘It must have rolled off the table again,’ Thomas said aloud, but his heart started beating faster.  Carefully, he caught the sculpture in the rag and wrapped it up.  This time he suffered no injuries.  Then he wrapped the covered statuette in newspaper, and then bound it again in duct tape.  By the time he finished, viciousness had six inches of padding around it.  Thomas laughed to himself, it would be the safest of her sculptures.

Silently he wrapped piece after piece in newspaper, putting them in their boxes.  His movements were mechanical, although after his experience with viciousness he picked them up more carefully.  Gratefully, he discovered he still did not have to look at them.  An hour into the chore, Thomas took a break to get something to drink.  While he knelt down to study the beverages lurking in their refrigerator, he heard a rattling.  Standing, he reached out with his hearing to determine what the sound was.  It grew louder, it seemed to come from the studio.  He felt his pulse in his neck, as he stood frozen for a moment.  The rustling continued.  Finally, he mustered enough courage to close the fridge and turn toward the studio.  It must be a mouse, he thought to himself, or a squirrel that sneaked in through the window.  It must be playing in the newspaper.

Yet, when he got to the threshold of the studio, he could see nothing but boxes, newspapers, and sculptures.  The sound was clearer, though, definitely something crinkling the paper.  Thomas forced himself to go toward the boxes.  ‘The mouse must be caught inside the box,’ he lectured himself, ‘it can’t be anything more than that.’

With his last shreds of courage, he peered into the box.  Something was squirming under the packing.  Tentative, his blood pulsing in his ears, he ripped away the newspaper.  It revealed a naked woman, lying on her back, writhing, so sensually.  The beauty of her froze him.

‘It’s good to see you again lover,’ a sensual, familiar voice cooed at him.  It was Moira’s voice.  Moira’s body.  Moira’s sexuality. ‘How I have missed you.

Thomas stepped back, horrified.  He looked at the cupboard.  All of the sculptures were moving.  All the newspaper was squirming with life.  Tiny knives stabbed through the duct tape covering viciousness.  Sorrow cried, madness wailed, anger threw up her fists in rage.  Fear paralyzed Thomas, the thumping of his heart paused for a terrifying moment.  When it remembered to beat, it surged in his chest with painful intensity.  He started to move toward the door, trying to escape,  when he heard a plaintive voice call out to him over the din.

‘Thomas.  Oh, Thomas.  How could you have done this to me?’

Numb with dread he looked back.  Disappointment had crept to the front of the cupboard, holding her hands out toward him.  Moira never told him what inspired her to sculpt it, but Thomas had always worried that it had been something that he had done.  After he had seen it for the first time, it effected him so deeply that it was days before he could sleep through the night.  Lists of all the ways he had disappointed Moira kept swimming through his mind.  Endless gifts and dinner dates sought to relieve him of this nameless blame.  Despite his panic, he had to know.   ‘Wha…’ he stammered, ‘What did I do?’

‘You didn’t believe me.’  Disappointment cried bitter tears, her face wrenched with the betrayal she felt, ‘You could have helped me, you could have found a way to save me, if you had just believed me!’

‘You fucking bastard!’  Anger spat venomously at him, pushing disappointment aside, ‘I’ll fucking kill you for what you’ve done to me!’  She jumped nimbly out of the cupboard and charged at him, ready to strike.

Finally, Thomas regained control of himself enough to run away.  He left the house, slamming the door behind him, and got halfway down the street before the cool breeze of the night soothed him.  Abruptly he stopped running.  His body screamed out in its exhaustion.  ‘I was just tired.’  Thomas comforted himself halfheartedly, ‘When Moira first started hallucinating, all the doctors said that it could be caused by fatigue.  I’ve been packing for days.  I am drowning in her madness.’  Slowly he began making his way back to the house, bolstering his courage with each step and each rationalization.  ‘I haven’t been eating well,’ his thoughts picked up speed, ‘hunger can make you see things.  And, I’ve been under a lot of stress.’  By the time he reached the threshold of their apartment, he had become fully convinced that he was seeing things.  ‘It was all in my head, I was asleep or something, when I get to the studio, they will all be in the boxes and cupboard, just as I left them.’

When he opened the door, viciousness stood directly in front of him, blades poised to attack.  A wicked smile had crept across his face as he began to leap at Thomas.  Right behind him, anger shouted, ‘There he his!  Get him!’

Thomas screamed, slammed and locked the door and slept in the car.

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