Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)
TITLE: Mister's Masterpiece
By Joan Campbell
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
His throw thrusts me against the cold, hard surface. Ow! That really hurt!
Okay Mister, let’s talk this out. I don’t think this is necessary, do you?
Just when I think my situation can’t deteriorate, I feel water pouring over me.
Oh no! I hate water. Cut it out, please?
Now I start to spin.
Mmm, this is more like it. This feels good. Wheeeeeeeee!
No, wait a sec. That’s a bit too fast. I’m getting dizzy. Just slow it down a bit. Hey, I said slower, not faster!
I see large wrinkled hands, darkened by years of sun, come towards me. They enfold me completely and push me down with such force that I find it hard to breathe.
Ow! No! What...are you…doing?
It’s difficult to concentrate through the pain, but I think I hear a boy’s laughter.
Yeah, laugh away! You’re not the one rotating at this mind-blowing pace.
Now I hear a man’s voice, deep and resonant: “You try it Timmy, the clay feels lovely in your hands.”
The large hands ease away from me and smaller ones approach, grasping me ever so gently.
That’s better, much better. Let the kid do it. I can handle this.
The man laughs: “We need to put a bit more strength into it Timmy, otherwise we’ll never create anything from this lump of clay. Like this.”
His hands cover the boy’s small ones and I feel the intense pressure again. Yet now something interesting is happening. I realise that I am stretching and carefully changing shape.
Wait, did you say ‘create’? Is it possible for you to change me from clay into something, well, better?
“See Timmy, it’s starting to dry out. It needs more water.”
More cold water soaks into every part of me.
Like I said before guys, go easy on the water, won’t you?
“Grandpa, why do you have to keep it wet?”
“If the clay dries out, it becomes hard and unyielding. Then it’s impossible to work with and has to be thrown away.”
Oops, thrown away? Keep that water coming there, Mister.
I’m starting to feel safe in the old man’s hands. His work still hurts, but it’s easier now that I know he’s shaping me into something better.
“It’s turning out lovely, Gramps.”
Is he talking about me? I hope he’s talking about me.
“We’re almost done, Timmy. Now we just have to shave off the rough edges. Pass me that knife.”
Knife? You’ve got to be kidding!
The steel presses against me, more painful than anything the man has done so far. Yet, as I watch pieces of myself curl away, I feel lighter.
So this is how I’m meant to be.
The wheel stops spinning and I see the old man’s eyes studying me intently. He is smiling. Timmy, too, presses in closer for a look.
“It’s one of my best,” the man says softly.
Me? One of his best! Did you hear that? I went from a lump of clay to one of his best. Hah!
“Now it’s time for the furnace.”
Furnace? Isn’t that like…fire? Hang on, why mess with something so beautiful now?
“What does that do, Gramps?”
“It makes the clay strong so it keeps its lovely shape forever. Now it’s still soft and fragile.”
Somehow I knew he would have a good reason.
It’s worse in the furnace than I could ever have imagined. I’m surrounded by fire, heat and smoke. I feel parched, lifeless and so alone. I long to hear the old man’s voice speak over the hissing flames.
I’m just not strong enough. How could you possibly leave me in here and think I’d survive?
Just when I’m convinced that I will shatter into a million pieces, the door opens and I’m drawn into cool air again. I stand alone for a while, savouring the fact that I’m still whole.
Suddenly a woman is bending over me.
“It’s lovely, Josh, a real masterpiece.”
“Yes, but look here, Louise,” I feel his finger stroke my side, “it’s a small crack.”
No! I was meant to be one of his best, but I’m not. I’m worthless, no better than a lump of clay.
The old man’s eyes still smile at me: “Which just means I won’t give this one away. I’ll keep it with all my other favourites.”
Joy fills me as I finally understand what I am - a masterpiece with a crack, yet still one of my Master’s favourites.
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