To start something new and not finish is a painful thing, said Mrs. Winter, her pencil poised above thick, sand-creamy paper.
No such compunctions for Mr. Winter, though, who at that very moment had given up on sawing through the log for the artist’s stool for Mrs. Winter. A ready-made stool would do just as well, and not create half as much work or dust, said Mr. Winter, his gecko hands folded in front of him. He walked through the puddles of half-finished projects he had left in his den, and sought out the fireplace to smoke a pipe. He could wait a few more days (or weeks, or months or years) to meet Mrs. Winter with her new stool.
Mrs. Winter sketched out an hourglass, then added a leak— sand trickling, grain by grain, out of the bowl above into the bowl below, and from the bowl below on to the floor. That’s my life, said, Mrs. Winter, folding her gecko hands in turn, lonely blood flowing out on the cold, waiting snow. She kept sketching, and forgot about lunch.
Mr. Winter fell into a nap by the fireside.
When it was time for dinner, Mrs. Winter got up, tried to stretch out the cricks from her back and shoulders, felt them rise into her head, become an ache. Her sketch was done, the very first draft of her painting.
Getting fitted with a gecko’s limbs was a small price to pay to live longer, to climb out of any disaster, to finish everything that had seen a start.
But just then, the ground beneath her feet shook, the pens on her table rattled, the water in her glass sloshed out, the glass rolled over and smashed on the floor.
Downstairs, the large head of a stag Mr. Winter had hunted many decades ago dropped on his head and knocked him out. He never knew what got him.
Mrs. Winter felt every blow, heard each pot and pan in the kitchen crash, absorbed the thud of something heavy, a tree or a pole, as it flattened her garage, felt the table and then the roof plummet on her, beating her to slow but conscious pulp.
To finish is also a painful thing, said Mrs. Winter, blood dripping on her hourglass sketch with its penciled black-and-white blood. She closed her eyes, and presumably joined Mr. Winter for the first time in years.
If you’re intrigued by this piece, you can find more of my work in A to Z Stories of Life and Death.
———Fiction authors, take a look at the
a month-long shared-world fiction extravaganza starting 5th October— with some great prizes, and of course, a lot of exposure and constructive feedback for your writing. This is one Blogfest fiction authors ought not to miss. Go ahead and sign up!