The Statue


There was a glass statue, its hands cupped, outstretched as if to recieve something, on the edge of a cliff. The rising sun was like a fire heart in its chest.

It was looking across the beach; looking at another cliff, miles in the distance.

Someone had carved steps into this cliff. They were slippery and treacherous; wet by the sea every day at high tide, covered with slimey moss and seaweed. There were no handholds. My boots were walking boots; I picked my way carefully down the steps, over the rocks below, onto the sand.

I looked back at the statue on the cliff above me. The sunlight on the glass dazzled me and I looked away. Then it caught something shiny on the sand, beyond the rocks.

Glass. Yellow glass.

The fragment was too large, too solid to have been a bottle. I felt around in the sand, like a child digging for seashells. I found three large pieces of yellow glass; pieces of a sphere, a globe of thick glass, broken, but not shattered. I held the pieces together in my cupped, outstretched hands.

Up the steps again, clutching the glass fragments to my belly. Was it a missing piece; a fragment of some long dead artist's gift to the sea?

I placed the pieces in the statue's hands. I kept my own hands on top of the sphere, holding the pieces together.

The statue smiled.

It grasped the pieces; one hand on top one underneath it, holding the pieces together. It stretched its glass limbs, looked out to sea, and then across the beach.

It stopped smiling, and walked towards the stone steps.

It scared me to watch this brittle body making that treacherous descent, but the statue was more sure-footed than I. Over the rocks, and with slow, long paces, across the long stretch of coast to the cliff at the other end; carrying the sphere before it, clutching it to its chest. Several times its glass lips started to move - but it had no voice.

It was noon when we had walked to the end of the beach.

We did not dig for very long. There, in the sand, half buried, was a yellow sphere, shiny and whole.

It gestured to me to pick it up; it would not relinquish the fragments that it held.

The sand here was dry, we were above the high water mark. There were steps here too, which we climbed without difficulty, it with its broken sphere, I with my whole one. We carried them ceremoniously up the steps.

There was nothing at the top of the cliff.

I looked, I scrabbled, I searched and dug with my hands.

I dared not tell it what I found, but it saw it. The red droplet on my finger, where I had cut myself on a piece of glass.

It looked at me. I do not know what its expression tried to say.

It let one of the framents fall from its hands, and the other two, one in each hand, it threw, without anger, over the edge of the cliff.

I put the whole yellow sphere on the ground, at its feet, and resumed my journey.