I stood in the temple of commitment, alone, carving a statue of everything I had lost. Every strike of the hammer, every position of the chisel, a labour of grief and desperation. A form existed within the serine block of marble, it was my job to help it escape. Each curve lovingly recreated with shaking hands, each minute detail perfected with loving intent. My labour completed I slumped to the floor exhausted, emotionally and physically broken. I gazed upon my creation with raw eyes. The sun burned bright behind her, illuminating her illustrious form, too bright to look upon, too perfect to look away.
I sat there for an age contemplating what went wrong, begging, worshipping, and railing against the injustice that took her away from me. The same cycle would run through my mind as my eyes ran along her length. Why, how, when? I had no answers, only shifting conclusions. I tried to meet her dry eyes, but they would not meet mine, turned towards her want, away from my need. The rain fell perpetually as I wept in my solitude. Falling light and hard all at once, but never ceasing. As time passed the wind began to sweep in a long forgotten storm. I railed at her, screaming at my injustice, but she was made of stone, and I was merely a breeze.
As the storm passed my rage subsided. Head against my chest I tried to weep, but no more tears would come. I opened my eyes to see the reflection of a man I did not recognise in the pooled rain between the cobbles. I was a shadow of my former self, gaunt and world-weary, the weight of her betrayal bowing my back. I rallied myself from my despair, bringing one leg out from under me I stood for the first time in what seemed like millennia. On weak legs, I rose proud, and the weight of her expectations slid from my back.
I gazed upon my perfect work once more. The lines of her face, the curves of her outstretched torso, the slenderness of her reaching arms. And I saw for the first time an imperfection. Her face once the embodiment of beauty was not just a little asymmetrical. Her perfect polished surface was now pockmarked with ware. Her arms reaching for the heavens no longer the idealised embodiment of ambition, but of overreaching. She was floored, as I was, as we all are. She did not deserve the podium of which she stood, of which I placed her. Straining I embraced the statue, rocking it back and forth with tender care until we fell together.
She sits there now, in the corner of the temple, out of sight but never truly out of mind. Slowly I built myself up, piling stones around the podium I revelled in my labour. My arms grew strong, my head became clear, and my heart grew a little lighter. Task completed I skipped up the steps crafted with care, turned to receive the open world before me, and sat on the throne I had built. A throne for hope to sit.
Words by Mark Vawser
Illustration by Kyiandra Thanou