Sorry this is late. Life happens.
Oh, and it's official: I will be writing the stories I mentioned in the first part of this. Why is it official? I made them file folders on my computer. Yep. All titled and everything.
And I feel like I'm much better suited to these short stories than to 10+ chapter stories. So, yay! I'll have to be sure to keep the ideas coming.
Standard disclaimer applies.
It was like he knew.
It seemed he knew that I lived, that I was not simply a chunk of carved ivory. He looked at me as if he felt it, he was gentle when he wiped the dust from my limbs. He spoke to me, sometimes; how I longed to respond to his words, to let him know that I was listening and please, please don't lose hope!
But I couldn't. For I was made of ivory. I was not a real woman.
And it killed me that I couldn't be what I saw he wanted me to be.
I almost felt bad for him. He was a cynic, seeing the worst of the world. He told me of his scorn for those without honor or dignity. He told me that he refused women because he had never met a woman that respected herself enough not to throw her body at him or others. I felt bad that he knew such horrid people, that he could not see the beauty of the world.
Though I found that I felt worse for myself. I knew that I could never be the wonderful woman he described, could never make him happy as no other woman could.
I don't think anyone knew him like I did. He rarely had company aside from those that came in regards to business. He spent so much time in his workshop that I very much doubted the possibility that he was seeing anyone outside of his home.
Coming to know his mind was the greatest experience. To many, he seemed cold and detached. He acted like he couldn't give a flying rat's hindquarters about anyone but himself. In a way, this was true – he did nothing without a good reason, ungoverned by his emotions. Cool and calculating, he knew what he wanted and found a way to achieve his goals at all costs.
All this I saw from my corner of his workroom, heard in his moments of spoken thought.
From this, many would assume he was a bad person. He wasn't of bad character by any means. Any man that holds honor in such high regard cannot be truly bad, can he?
I also learned of his more endearing qualities. For instance, he hated a mess and was very organized. I thought it sweet that he needed a clean area to think, as if purity were his goal.
I saw the pride he took in his work; such great pride it was. He loved what he did and would never let anyone take it from him. I came to cherish that adorable furrow that adorned his regal brow when adding small details to his art. In truth, he had a right to be proud. He created such beautiful works. I only hoped I was as beautiful as the other creations I saw take shape under his strong, masculine hands, covered in the calluses of hard work.
From my place in the corner of the room I even learned that he had a soft spot for animals and couldn't stand to see one injured. It must have been due to his high regard for purity that he couldn't watch an innocent be punished.
A good example of this was the dog. Yes, he took in a stray dog. It was a scraggly thing, all bones and skin with no fat to speak of.
I suppose he found it one day on the street, or perhaps it found him. Either way, it came home with him, but the little white beast wasn't allowed in the workroom. Or at least that's what he said, anyway. The scruffy mutt would always find his way in, sneaking through the door at the carver's back and coming to rest quietly at his feet. He knew better than to interrupt, and when the artist was absorbed by his work, there was no way he would notice the small dog. Every day when the sculptor finished and stepped back to admire his handiwork with his cool expression and distant eyes, he would catch sight of the dog, tail wagging and ears pricked forward. Then a half-hearted but passably convincing reprimand would be issued – though evidently not a very effective reprimand – and the cycle would begin again.
I treasured the morning and night times when he would clean the grit of the day's work from my motionless body with his gentle caresses. I knew it was nothing more than maintenance to him, that I was an ornament in his house, but I came to live solely for that moment of his skin against my body.
There even came a day when he placed the most beautiful strand of pearls about my neck.
I saw something flicker in his eyes in that moment, though I've no idea what it was. It made me feel a warmth where usually there was nothing but cold stillness.
His brow creased for a split second, though not in the way that I liked. It was more of a frustrated furrow, but it disappeared in an instant, and then he was gone as well.
After that day things became strange. Yes, our routine stayed the same and the artist continued in his work. However, his eyes would flicker with that unnamed emotion when he looked at me at times. I still had no idea of quite what it meant and I didn't have a chance to study it, for the emotion fled from his eyes as quickly as it was summoned.
There came one night that perplexed me more than any other. The artist left mid-afternoon, not finishing his work for the day. He prepared to go out and I listened as the sound of his retreating footsteps grew faint.
It seemed that he was gone for such a long time, and I suppose that should have been a clue to me. I should have realized then just how attached I had become to his constant presence, with only brief intervals of absence. I wished he would hurry home from wherever it was he had gone off to.
Hours later, long after the sun had dipped in the west to take its slumber and the crescent moon rose to govern the night sky, the sculptor returned. I felt giddy with joy at the mere knowledge of his presence in the house.
Upon his return, however, he did a strange thing. The night was pitch black and warm light radiated from the flickering wick of the lamp he held in his gracefully tapered fingers. He approached me, a frustrated look of questioning in his eyes as he stared at my immobile face.
He stayed that way for a long moment. Then, the furrow he had worn more often lately came to mar his noble brow.
"Ridiculous," he whispered to the darkness.
With that, he turned and vacated the room, leaving me infinitely puzzled.
The next day, things had returned to the norm, though his vehement whisper never left my mind. I watched him from my corner of the room as I always had, though today my eyes were truly sightless – I was too deeply consumed in thought.
But then, when the sculptor left to gather more materials and a lamp to light the darkening room, a peculiar sensation came over me. It tingled over the surface of my ivory skin and heat seemed to radiate from my center.
That was when I saw him; the god known as Eros, son of Aphrodite, stood before me, a boyish grin adorning his cherubic features. He said nothing, only coming closer to bend over my hand and place a kiss upon the cold ivory. As he did so, he slipped a small band of gold around my finger, the symbol of Aphrodite's granted wish.
Instantly, the heat from within grew and grew, leaving me burning in the sinful beauty of it all. Flames licked against my skin from the inside and suddenly the air around me felt cooler than myself. It was then that the most wonderful thing occurred – I felt a steady thumping stem from my chest, sending jolts of energy through me with every beat.
Absently I noted the return of the Cypriot carver, believing he would have no idea of the strange goings-on I felt within my body.
It became apparent that my assumption was incorrect when he gave me a wide-eyed glance, placing down his materials and the lamp that cast a gentle glow over the room, sending dancing shadows into obscure corners, defying the oppressive darkness of full night.
He stepped slowly toward me, his mask of indifference once more firmly set in place. It was when he reached the space in front of me and reached out a hand to touch me that my exterior broke. Bits of ivory came to crumble around my feet as my arm whipped out to grasp his wrist.
It wasn't until I had completed this motion that I realized just how out-of-place it was.
This was nice, feeling my flesh against his. At the thought of having flesh instead of heatless ivory, I moved my right hand to a place not far from my face. Now that I recall, I suppose my mouth had taken the shape of a small 'O' and my eyes darted nervously from the tips of my fingers, down the length of my arm, and coming to scan the whole rest of my body.
It was amazing. My skin held the color of the ivory that had contained my spirit, though now with a healthy, warm, alive glow. As I tilted my head down, long black hair entered my line of vision. In awe, I lifted my now-living fingers to run them through the dark tresses. It felt so good to have my hands upon my scalp and sliding easily through the waves of my hair. It ended at the curve of my slender waist and I was entranced by its shine.
I moved my arms and legs as the sculptor watched, reveling in the feel of muscles tensing beneath smooth flesh.
I lifted my eyes to see him staring down at me – for I was much shorter, my eyes level with the middle of his masculine chest – with his sparkling, gold-tinged eyes. I wondered if all humans were so calm when they saw inanimate objects come to life.
His hand rose in front of my face and, before I could really predict what was coming, a single slim digit stroked the silk of my bottom lip.
I lost it then. My knees gave out, for I was unused to having to control muscles and his action was so unexpected. I landed against his stiff form, both of us not moving at all.
Slowly, I turned my head and pressed my ear against his chest. I came to the conclusion that our hearts sang the same steady song, beating in time with one another.
She was real. She lived and breathed, and now her beautiful face was so close to mine.
It was then that she stumbled and came to rest against my chest. My back became rigid at first, for I was unsure of how to proceed. Listening to the desires of my inner conscience, I did the most simple thing, though it spoke the loudest in that moment.
I lifted my arms and wrapped them around her, burying my face in her soft black hair.
Something started that night between us. She was, for the most part, the woman I had always imagined her to be. Her innocent curiosity about the things of the world was one of her greatest charms and it warmed my heart, though I would never admit it.
I wasn't disappointed by the differences she had from the woman I imagined her to be, though. They made her who she was. One of the biggest differences I noticed, rather soon I might add, was that I had always imagined her as being quiet. I soon found that I was horribly mistaken. She was respectful of my time spent working and would often come and sit next to me as I worked, silently marveling as my medium took the desired shape beneath my hands. But that didn't mean she refrained from indulging in rambling fairly often. I can't say it was not endearing, for she seemed to take on an excited, ethereal glow when she spoke of the things she saw and smelled and felt. She would go on and on in detail about the people she met when she ventured into the square for provisions. She would bounce up and down in her joy, that vivacious love for life of hers shining through.
We spoke of the time when she was still a statue, the way she would watch every day and I would long to know her as a real woman. I came to realize that she knew my mind and heart, was able to see through my icy exterior. In an attempt to silence her I would send her the glare that never failed to stop anyone in their tracks. But her? No. She would just laugh and continue with her babbling, secure in the knowledge that I would not truly be angry. At first it bothered me, but I came to realize that anything that made her laugh could be nothing but good.
As cold as I was, it seemed we truly were blessed by Aphrodite. I had never been one to have radical emotions – never mind expressing such emotions – and I found myself caring for this woman, not entirely sure of how it happened or what exactly made my heart race and my breath hitch when I saw her.
To be with her was to be wrapped up in the whirlwind of her feelings. She had so many and she even came to expect similar emotions of me.
There came a day when, our relationship having progressed, that she looked up into my eyes and whispered, "I love you."
How could I respond to such a confession? She could never be happy with one who did not love her and tell her such things, this I did know. What I didn't know was the true meaning of love. Did I love this woman?
Before I could come to a conclusion, she pulled away from the circle of my arms. She gave a sad smile – oh, how her sadness broke my heart – and shook her head.
"You don't have to say it, if you don't want to. I know this sort of thing makes you uncomfortable, but… but I just wanted you to know that." She turned away from me and in that instant I knew.
If I let her go now, we could never be the way we had been. She would be walking away from me and I would have lost her.
Grabbing her upper arm, the limb fitting easily in the circle of my fingers, I pulled her back to me, wanting nothing more than to keep her with me forever.
"No," I said. Confusion and self-doubt flickered across her features. "No," I began to clarify, "it's not alright. It would be wrong for me to accept your declaration and not tell you that I reciprocate your feelings."
Leaning down, to her amazement, I whispered, "I love you as well."
With that statement I realized that I told no lie. I loved her and only her. She stared up at me with wide eyes and a single tear carved a wet trail way down her smooth cheek. She flung her arms around my neck and that was that.
I could finally be happy with her. I loved her in spite of – or perhaps, because of – her beautiful flaws.
I would spend eternity with this woman, once of ivory and now of flesh. I would hold her until the stars all flickered out, safe in the knowledge that things would always be as they were now.
I didn't want to get into this, but Pygmalion and Galathea were married and had a son named Paphos, after whom the city Paphos was named.
And I'm assuming that this story has something to do with the custom of wedding bands? Y/n/manatee?
Please review! I know, this is sooooo late. But only by, like, 6 days. Not even a week. ;)
Oh! And please note that Eros is the Greek equivalent of Cupid.