“The Making of a Muse: Part Six”
“The Making of a Muse: Part Six”
After Rasheem turned off the lights, Cheyenne contemplated what to do. He had taken a long time about it, staying with the stone even after Mr. Thomas left and promising to close the door behind him.
She heard him speaking to the marble for a moment.
“I’ll find you,” he said as he rested his hand on the block. Again, Cheyenne saw the glowing image of a woman inside and lingered long enough to get a closer look. The woman in the stone wore a loose robe and sat with her legs folded. Instead of a bust like Gloria, this was a full body image with the figure’s bare toes peeking out of the bottom of her robe. One knee was folded up and pointed to the side as if she floated on a chair. The other leg reached down with the long cloth of her skirt tucked around. Her face was a little difficult to make out but her expression was certainly soothing–like she was sitting at the center of calm. Her eyes were focused downward but for a brief instant, Cheyenne saw them look up at her.
Then Rasheem took his hand off the stone and the image faded. As he turned out the lights, Cheyenne started working through her options.
She could, she thought, try to tell the security guard when Leila came.
No good. She had never figured out how to get anyone to listen to her. Moving keys worked. But no one ever considered that she might be there in more than a passing comment about that one instructor who bit it ten years ago. They joked about the place being haunted. But that was as far as they ever thought about her.
No, she would have to find a way to take the stone far away. That was the only way to keep Leila from getting it. Rasheem would be devastated and Cheyenne hated that thought. But Leila was going to steal it anyway. What difference would it make?
Sitting in front of the marble with her own ghostly legs crossed in half lotus, she conjured up every possible way to move it. She’d always carved it before without problem. That was the one object she should could effect without trouble. But this time—this time—she wanted to take it out of the shop—something she’d never tried before. She would have to use the dolly. And soon. She did not know if Leila would stay away tonight or not.
The day Cheyenne had died was the day she first took out the concrete drill bits to cleave the marble block into a manageable size. She climbed into her tan denim coveralls to protect herself from the stone’s flying dust and shook her boots out. Looking at the bottom of the one, she saw a crack in the sole right near the tip of the steel toes. She’d have to get new ones soon, she thought. It wouldn’t do to have her students see her working in shoddy equipment.
Leaning over the work, she went to turn the drill on without noticing the frayed wire brushing her arm or the way her back leg butted up against the metal struts of the work table. In fact, she never would have known that’s what happened if she hadn’t been hovering when the OSHA investigator came to give his report to the dean of instruction. She could have sworn she checked the cords before turning it on like always. And why that table was so close to her, she really wasn’t sure.
She hadn’t felt pain. It was a little like the one night when she was walking down the street and, talking to the person next to her, not noticed the narrow pole for the bus stop sign. That time the jolt of it knocked her back onto the pavement and it wasn’t until she reached the ground that she felt the ache of the hit.
The electrical shock hit her so hard and fast that it was over before she had time to feel more than the stunning jolt that forced her essence out of her skin into the air above, leaving her severed from the form on the concrete floor. She never felt confused about what had happened even as quickly as it was over. She knew. She was dead. The sight of her body left no room for doubt.