Aaron Smith CC
A professor once, in the middle of some classic course that she no longer remembers the specifics of, off-handedly alluded that the first humans to ever walk the earth were shaped from the dirt covering its surface. She thinks of this now as she forms cylinders from the silken earth, pulling and stretching and shaping and creating. She does not know where the clay stops and she begins as it starts to take shape beneath the press of her hands against the turning wheel.
The girl wonders what it would feel like to cut into the clay, to have the edges neatly part beneath a blade as rivers of blood spring forth. Would this stop the overwhelming, uncontrollable turning of the world? Would this free her from her emotions, raging like a stormy sea as it crashes against the jagged edges of a cliff over and over again?
She thinks it would. It would be clean, it would be neat, she would be in control. She could create and shape and alter and pull and stretch the confines of her own existence higher and higher and higher. She could push her clay downwards further and further, destroying its shape should she not meet the expectations of the world and all who dwell on its surface.
The wheel spins faster and faster but she is lost in the hazy allure of control, of peace, of nonexistence. She feels the pull to press the sharp, slanted edge of the knife down, cleanly slicing through the clay. Control. Peace. Nonexistence.
The wheel spins faster and faster, bits of wet clay splattering the nearby walls as her grip on the edges of the basic cylinder falters. The wheel stops. The illusion shatters. Dried pieces of clay have hardened on top of a nearby workstation and a fine layer of silty dust covers the room. Her hands are slick with a clay now like mud. It is not clean, it is not neat, she is not in control. Working with clay is messy.
Claire sighs heavily, staring down at the now shapeless vase due in the kiln early Monday morning. She wipes her hands on the front of her apron before checking the time on her phone — 2:00 AM. It is late and she is tired. Claire packs up her supplies and wipes down her workstation before leaving the darkened studio behind as she walks back to her dorm. The sky is a dark purple, lit from only God knows where and something inside of her stirs, just once and with great feeling, that is hopeful. After all, it is only just now Saturday; she can always try to create something from the clay tomorrow.
Megan Shea is an emerging writer of short stories, novels, screenplays, and articles on film and media. She's a freelance film critic and editor for sites such as Flip Screen and Film Cred and finds work about the wild, weird, wretched, and wondrous to be the most compelling (along with any and all science fiction/fantasy).
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