“The Making of a Muse: Part Three”

Topics: Writing
Stone Carver and Chisel

Since she didn’t need to sleep, Cheyenne had all day to consider how to keep the stone away from Leila. Hours after Vladimir had scanned the shop with his giant black flashlight and paced the perimeter before moving his bulk back into his car, the instructor opened the shop door and the students began to filter into the area. Most were young men—often teenagers–who wanted to learn the stone carving trade.

She wondered, not for the first time, why they had never once tried to carve the stone themselves. Perhaps, she thought, they could not see it. Maybe it was some sort of ghost like she was and slid past their attention. Curious, then, that Leila had seen it.

Move it. She would move it, Cheyenne decided. Somewhere where Leila couldn’t find it. She sat thinking about how to do this while perched over a stool the instructor placed at the front of the worktable but never used. It was the perfect place to look across the work area with its high ceilings and the garage-type doors open to the outdoors where the students would use their grinders and Dremels, crafting statues from the practice soapstone material. Clouds of stone dust rose up around them as they shaped the stone with their power tools, filled the air with sound, and wisely kept their cords far from their work.

They were nowhere near as skilled as Cheyenne had been. But she was, before she died, the instructor. Instructors had to be better.

After the students finished for the day, put away their tools in the locked tool room, swept the floor, and turned the key in the main door, Cheyenne set to work. She had a few hours before dark and was counting on that time to move the marble block before Leila returned. It had been, what? About midnight when she had come before?

She’d moved a few things before. Small things. Like the keys the instructor had lost. Those keys showed her how to move objects even though she was dead.

***

When she had first found those keys where the instructor had dropped them at the back of the tool room, Cheyenne wanted so badly to give them to him. She couldn’t help but think of the instructor and how pained he looked at the idea of paying for replacement keys. How embarrassed he was to ask Vladimir to lock up. Once when she was alive, she had accidentally flushed her own keys down the toilet and could still feel the red-faced embarrassment even though her ghostly face would never get blotchy again.

She startled that night when, in the midst of her sympathetic thoughts, the keys began to wiggle ever so slightly. It was almost as if they were responding to her thoughts. But no matter how much pity she mustered, the keys would only shake where they lay on the floor. She tried to pick them up but, as always, her fingers fell through the solid object. Aside from the tools she needed for her project, she could not change the solid object–even the ones as small as the keys.

Almost in desperation, she thought of how wonderful it would be if the instructor could find them. How he would not need to admit the loss or pay the fee or fill out the forms involved.

When she envisioned the instructor’s relief at finding them like this, the keys did something amazing–almost like beaming up in a Star Trek episode or Wonkavision in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They shivered in space under the bin, broke into pixilated pieces and then reassembled themselves over by the drill press where she had imagined him finding them moments ago. It took every ounce of energy she had to do it and the effort meant she could not carve Gloria for the night. But the joy of being able to do something living people noticed made up for the loss of carving.

After that, Cheyenne had been able to relocate whatever she wanted as long as she felt a need and could summon the compassion to create the move. The trick for her now would be to find someone who benefited from hiding the stone from Leila. She pondered on this for a while and decided it would have to be Gloria. Surely Gloria would want her likeness made. Perhaps somehow she even needed it made.

About the author: Karrie Zylstra Myton is a blogger, essayist, and aspiring author who writes for the wild joy it brings on the best days and the hard lessons she learns about life on the worst. After crafting stories in the ridiculously early morning hours, she chases her two sons, cuddles with cats, and laughs with her husband about how crazy life can get in middle age.

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