Thanks for visiting, as always! This week I’ve started a new project, and thought I’d post a short teaser from it here. The very short story below is going to be part of a larger collection, all dealing with the experiences and challenges artists face.
Quick explanatory note: Vera is an artist; her discipline is whatever you’d like to imagine, whatever resonates most with you. Twist is one of her three feline-shaped muses.
Hope you enjoy!
Vera sighs. For a while now, she’s been walking along her path, carrying her current project. She has carried it sometimes on her back, sometimes in her arms, with the same care and delight she would feel in carrying a child. For a while, her path has been straight and smooth. Sunlight has brightened it every day. The art she carries has seemed to have no weight at all. Having it with her has only filled her with more energy and strength, as if taking care of this precious burden means she can cover any distance and do anything.
Today, though, the path seems steeper. Loose rocks and gravel have turned up underfoot and Vera can feel them, sharp under her shoes. She’s tripped a couple of times on tree roots she didn’t see. The weight in her arms feels much heavier, dragging at her shoulders, but when she tries putting it on her back, it bows her down until she can barely put one foot in front of the other.
Finally she unships it and sets it down on the grass at the edge of the path. She sits down next to it, looking at it as if maybe it will get up and start walking on its own. Maybe it can lug itself along for a little while. Today she doesn’t have a whole lot more to give.
Twist saunters out of the grass. When they’re walking together, Vera is used to him coming and going however he wants. He is always around, but the sameness of the path can bore him when the air is full of scents and sounds.
He rubs his long body against Vera’s knee. “Why are we stopping?” he asks.
“I’m tired,” Vera says. She looks at the art, lying there mute in the grass. “I don’t know, Twist. What am I doing with this, anyway?”
The sun is out again today, but this time its rays come through a bank of cloud, creating a white glare. In the unfriendly light, Vera doesn’t think the art looks as beautiful or appealing as it used to. In fact, in this moment, she can’t really imagine picking it up again. Why should she, when it’s so heavy? What if it’s not worth dragging along anyway?
Twist sidles over to the art and sniffs it. He prods it lightly with a paw. Finally he rubs against it the same way he did with Vera. Mine, the gesture says.
He looks up at her. His eyes are green at the pupil, changing to gold at the edge of the iris, and they’re set wide apart on either side of his broad nose. Their heavy lids often make him look half-sleepy, but there’s no sleepiness in the look he gives her now.
“It’s yours,” he points out.
Vera sighs again. She runs her hand along his back. His fur is soft, but she can feel the texture of the individual hairs.
“I don’t know,” she says again. “It’s not very good, is it?”
Twist sniffs. “Good, not good. Who knows?”
“If I could tell for sure,” Vera says. The harsh sun-through-clouds glare really does make the art look ugly, she thinks. All the time she’s spent carrying it up to now, she never noticed how unattractive it really was. Or how heavy. She probably wasted a lot of effort just getting it this far.
Twist stretches out on the grass beside her. He can get comfortable anywhere, in no time at all. He turns his head to look up at her. From this perspective, his face is upside down.
“How can you tell if it’s good,” he asks, “when it’s not done yet? If I’m chasing a mouse, I don’t know if it’ll taste good until I catch it.”
“Twist!” Vera scolds. “That’s disgusting.” He’s never caught a mouse, and she never wants to see him do it, but he likes her to know he could be a great hunter if he wanted. She believes it. He’s fast and smart.
Twist rolls over onto his back and folds his front paws under his chin. “Sorry.”
Vera can’t help laughing. In one quick movement, Twist is back on his feet, sniffing at the art. “Mice smell good,” he tells her. “This does too.”
Vera laughs again. “Really?”
The green-and-gold eyes find hers. “Yes. I think you should chase your mouse a little more.” Twist stretches, pushing his big white front paws into the grass. “Besides, it’s awfully quiet around here, isn’t it? Let’s go find some excitement.”
Vera doesn’t really want to pick up the art again, but when Twist rubs against her leg, pushier now, she knows she doesn’t have a choice. She gets up and hoists the weight back into her arms.
Somehow it doesn’t seem quite as heavy as it did before. Twist sets off along the path, picking his way between loose stones, his long tail held cheerfully high. Cradling her work, Vera follows.