"Now this," she says. "This, Bradley, is something special."
We're standing in my studio. It's either really late, or really early, depending on how you look at it. I have wet clay streaked all the way up to my elbows. I don't like being called Bradley; only one other person has ever called me that.
"That one's not even done," I protest. I try to pull her away, refocus her attention on the wall of finished pieces. There are thirty of them, complete, all named, any of them ready to go home with her in her old white truck. But she is drawn to the misshapen beast in the corner. She ducks her head and steps inside. It makes her skin look neon. "Wow," she says, the word echoing out of the air holes. "What's that smell?"
"Like I said," I call out. "It's not finished."
She insists. She begs. She wins in the end, and I help her load it into her truck. She says they can probably get two grand for it, maybe three. "I have a client," she says, sitting in the driver's seat now, buckling her seatbelt, "who kills for this kind of stuff. You should see his house. Better than museums, you know?" When she pulls out of the unpaved driveway she sticks a hand out the window, waving goodbye. The cloud of dust she's kicked up settles, but slowly.
I sleep in the studio that night, in the corner that it was in. The floor there is still warm. In the morning, I know, I'll get a phone call. "Bradley," she'll say. "Something's not right."
"Maybe the lighting?" I'll suggest, knowing it's not. But you have to let some people figure it out on their own.
"No," she'll say. "That's not it. Listen, can you come down?"
I'll go. "Give me five days," I'll say when I arrive. It will be waiting there for me, in the middle of the gallery, the smell of it permeating the air. Not bad, exactly; just uncommon. I'll make them lock the gallery doors. Wave them away from the window. Then I'll place my hands on the clay, and push my thumbs in, and feel the shape of it move.
Fiction Friday is an outlet for experimentation while I slowly work on becoming a novelist. Read the rest of the stories here...