« When the Center Falls Away, Part 2 of 2 | Main | A Quiet Trail of Blood and Tears »

Truth and Beauty

by Edd Vick

Dahlia and Verbena Algonquin were sculptors. They were sisters. Joined at the shoulder, Verbena used her left hand to shape truth and Dahlia her right to create beauty. Angels and devils, heroes and monsters, the sacred and the profane all took shape from clay or marble or bronze.

On a Monday, Ziff Parkinship came to call. "I'd like a statue of my dead wife," he said, offering such a great sum that they agreed on the spot.

In the privacy of their studio, Verbena and Dahlia examined the photos he had provided. Verbena turned them this way and that, even upside down. "Strong jaw," she said. "Intense gaze. I can work with this." Dahlia took the photos and held them, now near, now far, even flipping them to search for inscriptions on the backs. "Flawless skin," she said. "Perfect features. She will be gorgeous."

They built an armature and brought out their clay, sprinkled it with water, and set to kneading it. Verbena used her left hand to work on the right side of the sculpture, Dahlia her right to shape the left. Slowly they walked around the low pedestal on which the sculpture stood, examining it from all angles. From rough mass to fine detail, the very image of Olivia Parkinson came to life under their gifted hands.

Their hands were precise in the steps that followed: the plaster negative, the wax positive, the addition of the sprues, the ceramic coating, the melting of the wax, the pour.

Ah, the pour. Bright molten bronze exhaled into the shape of a woman. When Dahlia and Verbena cut excess metal from Olivia Parkinson, the statue shivered so that a sharp edge cut one of the sisters' fingers. As she snatched it back, the other held up a calming hand. "Be still," they both said.

Ziff Parkinson arrived on another Monday to pick up his statue. He examined it from every angle, walking around and around the pedestal. "Well," he said, and "Yes," he said, and "Very lifelike," in a tone that meant anything but.

Dahlia pursed her lips. Verbena glared. Finally, one of them said, "She is exactly as she was in life," and the other said, "No more, no less."

Post a comment