by Lauren Risberg
She stood before him draped in an elegant marble dress, unmoving folds suspended from the child's frame mid-flutter, each pearly crease meticulously carved and polished. He tightened his sweaty grip on the artist's chisel, paralyzed in the gaze of her unshapely head. Maybe it was the skulls he heard rolling like glass marbles in his sculptor's toolbox, maybe it was the silent putrid corpse that lurked between unpainted canvases in his storage closet, maybe it was the scattered pallid gravel crunching like chalky bones beneath his shoes, but his hand felt like lead at the thought of disturbing her intricate marble coffin. The unfinished statue had no mouth, no face, no eyes, and she breathed so easily the same grit-dusted air that stung his lungs when he inhaled. He feared if he carved her face, she might bleed. He dropped his chisel and fled the studio, his hands immaculately clean.
Lauren Risberg is left-handed and wishes her handwriting were better.