She was not a normal person that much was true, yet she wanted a normal life. That was probably too much to ask for because even normal people find it difficult to live normally and there, she was… What right did she have to be alive let alone to live in peace and harmony? Some people should never be born and she was one such soul. You might think that I was being harsh but if you knew what I did, you would be agreeing with me. You couldn’t deny the truth just to be kind.
“What are you reading?”
“Something called A Life We Are Afraid to Live.”
“Is it any good?”
“It is about a woman who sold her soul to the devil in order to fulfill her dreams,” I said as I closed the book and put it away.
“Really?” Stacey looked at me amused at my choice of reading material.
“Please, hand me that chisel,” she said, “it’s over there, right by the sink.”
I handed it over to her. She had been working on her new project and I was already feeling neglected.
“What are you doing here anyway?” She asked, bent over her work table.
“I wanted to see if you were still alive or not,” I tried to joke about it even though I wasn’t laughing at all.
“So, we are back to being cling,” she said without humor, “are we?”
“Come on,” I said in a way of complaining, “I haven’t seen you in days.”
“Yes, because I have been busy and there is no law that says we have to see each other every single day.”
“Not a law,” I said, “perhaps, but I want to see you more often.”
“You know what,” she was annoyed, I could see it in her eyes, “this is not going to work if you can’t accept that my work comes first.”
“That’s harsh.” Well, that was Stacey to you, always brutally honest.
“Whatever, it’s the truth. It is so rare for me to get inspired these days. I don’t want to constantly worry about your feelings.”
“Has anyone ever told you that you are really mean.”
“Yeah, at least a dozen people have told me this. Must we do this now?”
“No, not at all,” I was saddened by her easy disregard for me, “I am leaving. Call me whenever you are finally free or not.”
I left with a heavy heart because I knew I won’t be hearing from her. I wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted or not. One thing was clear, we weren’t compatible and it was better this way. Then, she surprised me.
“Where are you right now?” Stacey said as soon as I picked up my phone. It was the middle of the night and I was half asleep.
“I am at home, where else,” I wasn’t in the mood to be polite.
“Can you come over?”
“Yes, it is important.”
“Okay,” I hated that I said okay but there was no way I could refuse her anything. Damn, I was in deep trouble. This woman had a hold over my heart she didn’t even deserve, or so I thought.
When I reached her place, I saw that the lights were all off. I rang the bell and waited for her to open the door for me. She didn’t, I waited for about fifteen minutes and then called her. This time she didn’t pick up the phone. That worried me a little because she was expecting me. I tried knocking, still nothing. Then I decided to try her workshop at the back of her house. She could be working late.
“Hello,” I called out seeing that the lights were on. “So, she must have been working,” I thought to myself. I tried the door; it was open so I went in. I saw the sculpture she was working on the other day. It was now complete and it took my breath away. She was definitely talented there was no doubt in that at least. I wondered if this was how she saw us, two people deeply in love and her work portrayed that feeling so beautifully. I felt that she was telling me something through her art. Was she or was I reaching for something that wasn’t there? It could be a random work, who knew where she got her inspiration from.
“Hello? Stacey,” I called out again. There was no answer. I looked around and she was nowhere to be found. That was odd. I tried calling her again but still, no answer. I waited for about an hour and then went back home. It was so like her, she roused me from my slumber, asked me over and then went somewhere else. As if I didn’t matter. As if I wasn’t important. Everything was always about her, her work, her home, her family, her… her… her. Where was I in our relationship anyway? In her life, there was no place for anyone else. She was all she wanted and needed. That night I made the decision and left her for good. I was offered a job in the city but I was reluctant only because of her. It was foolish when she didn’t even want me in her life, at least, not in the way I wanted her.
The next day, I packed up my bags and left. Since then I had not looked back. I don’t know where she is now. I don’t know how her life turned out to be. To be honest, she didn’t try to reach me either but then, what else did I expect from her? I do sometimes visit art galleries in the hope of finding her work displayed somewhere, no such luck though. She remained an unknown artist from an unknown town, no one even knows about.
Five years later
As I was walking down the street, I heard someone calling my name. I looked and saw one of my old buddies walking towards me.
“Hey, Mark,” he said as he approached me, “is that really you? Long time and no see, huh.”
“How are you?” I said as I shook his hand and gave him a half hug while patting him on the back, “it’s good to see you, man.”
“I am fine. How have you been?” He asked smiling from ear to ear, “how is Stacey?”
“I am good. No idea about Stacey though. Why do you ask?”
“You mean that you two are not together anymore?” He said because I must have looked confused at the mention of her name.
“No, you know I left town and we just drifted apart.”
“Really? So, you didn’t leave town together?”
“She left too?”
“Yeah, the same day as you did or so everyone seemed to think. No one has seen her after you left. We just assumed that the two of you had run off to the city together.”
“Nah, I left on my own,” I said feeling surreal, “I have no idea where she is.”
“Anyway, how long are you going to stay?” He asked changing the subject.
We talked for a while and then I excused myself. My mind was a mess and I kept thinking about Stacey. Even though I hadn’t seen her in the last five years she still had the ability to render me senseless. That night, when she called me and then vanished what had happened that night? When I started digging, I found out that no one had seen her since that fateful night. Her house was sold and she was gone for good.
Stacey had always been flighty. I would believe anything about her except that she left her artwork behind. That was one aspect of this story I simply could not stomach. The Stacey I knew would never do that. Her work was her life. There was nothing in this world she loved more than that. So, what happened to her?
I had raised questions and now others were curious too. Soon, search to find her was underway. We talked to everyone we knew and everyone who knew us. We asked questions; who saw her last? Where did they see her? When did they talk to her for the last time? There was much to be considered.
In the end, it turned out that I was the last person to talk to her. As I had feared, the night she called me over was the last time anyone heard from her. Her house had been sold a few weeks before that. So, she had planned to move but why not pack properly and say her goodbyes? Why on earth did she leave at night, taking nothing with her and telling no one? Also, why did she call me that night? These questions now plagued my every waking moment. I was a man obsessed.
A few days later I went to her old house. The new owners were good people. They had no use for her workshop so they had left it as it was. All her artwork, some complete and some incomplete, sat there collecting dust. As I looked around, I became nostalgic. How many days and nights she had spent in this room and how many arguments we used to have about it, right here, in this very place.
Her last sculpture was exactly where I had seen it that night. It truly was a magnificent piece. I moved towards it, looking at it closely and realizing how much it truly resembled us. Two people embracing each other, clearly in love. The woman was exactly how I remembered Stacey and the man was definitely in my image.
Wait, what was that? As I moved closer, I saw that there were tears in the female’s eyes. Wasn’t she smiling just a moment ago? As I extended my hand to touch her face, I watch bewildered as she closed her eyes and gave me the saddest smile anyone could muster up. And then, I knew. I finally realized the truth, as inconceivable and as strange as it was, but it was also right in front of my eyes.
I looked, unable to move as she too extended her hand toward me. I hesitated only for a moment and then put my hand in hers. The next thing I knew, she was in my arms and we were both gazing into each other’s eyes. The eyes that were wood but as deep as they ever were. Two figures preserved for eternity. It was the best moment and the perfect end to our love story that never was.
“And here is the famous artwork by Stacey Miller. Her final piece that made her famous. Even after fifty years of it being found in her abandoned workshop, it is still the most talked about piece of art in modern history. They say that she drew it in her and her lover’s image. The stories around this piece are so magical that sometimes it becomes difficult to distinguish them from myths. It was found in her workshop long after she was gone. No one really knows why she never tried to sell any of her later work, but one thing is for sure, this work is timelessly beautiful and it has immortalized her.” The instructor was talking while the students looked at the sculpture showcased in all its glory in the Art Museum of this small town.
© 2019, Fizza Younis. All Rights Reserved.
This story was first published at Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/717555167-the-embrace-of-a-lover-together-forever
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P.S. What do you think of the cover that I created using Canva?