After publishing this in various blogs, it’s finally home on my very own blog.
I promised myself that I would write this story no matter how it ended. I regret that promise because I had no peace until I did. It’s done and this is certainly not the story I expected to write when I made the promise, but it helped me heal.
For Jenn because you didn’t judge me when I first mentioned the statue. You looked at me and your eyes twinkled with something that felt like understanding and empathy.
For Rachel, my Dakota, I’m forever in debt to you. Thank you.
It was one of those days when the sky looked like a grey canvass that hung low over the earth. The vibrant colors of autumn had passed but winter wasn’t here yet, so the tree branches were like bony fingers groping wildly in the bitter breeze. I walked down the sidewalk along the big gates of Sherman’s Park. I peeked through the wrought iron fence between the hefty pillars and savored the pang of feeling locked out. Loneliness bit at my heart. Then, I continued on. I stopped again for a long moment to stare at the marble statue atop the concrete pillar.
I remembered my conversation with my friend, Melanie, last spring. Melanie was a wild creature with dyed jet black hair. Her ivory face was covered with a thick coat of pasty foundation. Her eyes were swallowed in black holes of eye shadow and eyeliner. She even had a tattoo on her wrist that read: Dark Whisper. I didn’t even know why she hung around me because I didn’t really seem her type.
We were standing at the foot of this granite warrior. I remember because she had read the inscription on the pillar that named the massive work of art and the name stuck in my head: The Bright and Famous Warrior.
“I have a crush on him,” she had confided.
“That’s silly,” I had retorted with a practical air.
I stared at her vacillating between wanting to know the story and pretending not to care. She must have seen the struggle in my eyes, because she explained.
“Pygmalion was this sculptor guy from Greek mythology that had given up on women. One day, he carved a beautiful woman out of ivory. She was so pure and stunning that he fell in love with her. As he worshiped the gods, he secretly wished that his beloved statue would come to life, so he could marry her.
“Since he was such a loyal worshipper, the goddess Venus granted his wish. That evening when he kissed his statute, her lips were warm. He let his hands slide over her breast and to his surprise they were soft. She was alive!”
“You believe in God. Maybe he’ll revive a statue for you,” she muttered. “Isn’t he supposed be able to do all things?”
I glared at her.
Now, I stared up at the statue. Secretly, wishing it would come to life. I climbed up and reached through the gate and touched the statute’s leg. I jumped. It was as if a muscle rippled beneath that granite skin. I looked towards the face. I blinked. Were those rich hazel eyes staring forlornly back at me? I shook myself. I must be imagining things. Or perhaps, a person was trapped inside that granite hulk. I shuddered.
“It’s a pity, isn’t it,” a voice behind me said, “for him to be trapped in there like that.”
I jumped and looked around to see a small snowy haired gentleman standing on the sidewalk below. In that moment, I tumbled down off my perch into a crumpled heap at his feet. I opened one eye to briefly study his white linen suit brushing the tops of his sapphire suede shoes. He gently grasped my shoulders tenderly pulled me to my feet almost like I was a little child. His touch gave me warm fuzzy tingles all over. I noticed his gold belt with a queer buckle that have of an iridescent glow of rainbow like colors. He had a white linen jacket to match his linen pants. As his hands dropped effortlessly to his sides, I noticed a bulky golden ring set with seven little diamonds that sparkled like stars on his right hand.
Suddenly, I remembered the question! The question! I just had to ask.
He nodded. I stared at him in horror.
“We’ve got to get him out!” I cried.
He looked at me mournfully. I noticed that although his face glowed with a sort of celestial light, there was this underlying sadness deepening the wrinkles scrawled all over his cheeks and brow.
“That’s the easy part…” He drawled. I whirled around to look back at the statute trying to devise a plan of rescue. When I turned back, the old man was gone. I look around frantically. A lanky young man stepped out of a nearby cab.
“Someone is trapped in there!” I cried.
“In that statue! He just looked at me!”
The guy shook the brown hair out of his face and frowned at me.
“That statue has been there for years, girl. You crazy?”
I looked back at the statue its eyes had returned to a granite black. I shook myself and continued walking home. My thoughts were tumbling in confusion. I was a bit angry. Had the statue made a fool of me?
The next few days were busy, so I forgot all about the strange incident. I didn’t even get a chance to walk past Sherman’s park. Until, one day when my friend, Dakota, and I were at the library, I saw the gentleman who was at the park. He was checking out books.
“Look,” said Dakota. “There’s the president of the university.
“Uh,” I grunted. So, he is real.
“I’m hungry,” Dakota suddenly said.
“Let’s grab a bite to eat at the cafe,” I suggested jumping at an excuse to walk past Sherman’s park.
“Okay! You owe me one.”
“Yeah, right!” I muttered sarcastically.
The wind was bitter cold outside and the clouds brooding over the darkening sky. The sidewalk glistened from the recent rain.
“I think someone said it was going to snow soon,” Dakota commented hopefully. Then we walked in silence. Sure enough there was that statue. Butterflies danced in my stomach. I glanced at him; our eyes met. I gasped.
“What?” Dakota asked.
“Oh, um, ah, look at that statue,” I stammered.
“What about it?”
“I don’t know. Look at its eyes.”
“Does it have eyes?
“Just tell me.”
“Just do it.”
Dakota rolled her eyes.
“Climb up there and touch it?”
She scrambled up the fence and reached into touch the statue’s leg. Would she feel it ripple? I watched her face for a flicker of emotion. Nothing.
“I’m touching it,” she said.
She climbed back down and looked at me questioningly.
“You still haven’t told me ‘what,’” she complained.
“I guess it’s nothing,” I muttered.
“Well, you’re sure acting strange.”
We continued on in silence until we entered the little cafe. The warmth inside gently caressed our cheeks as we stepped in the door. The smells of freshly baked goods tantalized our noses. Soon we were sitting by the window stirring steaming mugs of tea with candy mint sticks and nibbling at toasty pastries silently enjoying each other’s company.
Another couple sat down at a table nearby. I tried not to eavesdrop, but what the woman said caught my ear.
“You know there’s this myth that a person is trapped inside one of the statues in Sherman’s park,” she said flippantly.
Dakota glanced at me and raised her eyebrows.
“Yeah, I heard that he got caught in sort of crooked deal and agreed to be a living statue for a billion bucks he’d probably never get,” responded the man.
“Really? He’d freeze to death in this weather!”
“And the chemical on him to protect him from the elements supposedly turns him slowly into stone.”
“That’s horrible! Poverty would do that to anyone.”
“But legend has it that he is actually an heir to a huge inheritance.”
“What a fool!”
“My thoughts exactly.”
The woman looked wistfully out the large glass windows towards Sherman’s park. It was already dark. The street lamps were emitting a soft yellow glow and the puddles on the street reflected it.
The woman laughed a little.
“I wonder if it’s true,” she said. The man shrugged. I stopped listening.
“That’s weird,” whispered Dakota.
“Think I saw him,” I whispered back.
Her eyes widened.
“Really?” She questioned.
“I think it’s that statue I told you to touch.”
“Let’s go back,” she whispered.
We quickly gathered our stuff. Suddenly, Dakota stopped. Her face turned pale.
“What if he is dead or something already?” she asked.
Suddenly I felt sick.
“Do you really want to go back?”
“Then, let’s not.”
By Christmas time, it started to snow. I hurried past Sherman’s park one afternoon after getting some freshly baked pastries from the cafe for the evening’s festivities.
I stopped in my tracks at the strange sound.
“Psst! Up here!”
There was the hoarse whisper again.
I looked up and to my astonishment the statue’s mouth was moving.
“Can you spare a bit of that tea?”
I looked down at the cup in my hand.
“Sure?” I said. But it sounded more like a question. I looked back up at the statue.
“Shall I climb up and give it to you?”
He stood ramrod straight with no sign of life. Puzzled I continued walking.
“Yes, Miss, please do!” The statue rasped desperately.
Unsure if I was dreaming, I climbed up the pillar and offered him the cup. He drank thirstily tea dribbling down his lips. I pulled the cup away.
“Don’t drink so fast! You’ll burn yourself!”
His rich hazel eyes met mine for a dizzying second before he rolled them.
“I’m a statute,” he said.
Reeling from the electricity in his eyes and stunned by the confusing words rolling off his lips I grasped the statue to steady myself. This time I felt a pulse. I jerked back, then, pressed my hands close again. Nothing. Nothing but cold granite. Even his eyes were cold granite. I grasped for breathe. My heart pounded. Dragonflies ricocheted off the walls of my stomach.
I scrambled down and ran.
I turned around and saw the white-haired gentleman.
“Are these yours?”
He held my pastries.
“Oh, yes!” I said quite flustered. I snatched the sack from his hand before I hurried away.
Those rich hazel eyes and the single thump of life haunted me for the rest of the week. I tried in vain to stop myself from toying with the idea of falling in love with a statue. I was on the brink of doing that same idiot thing I had scoffed at Melanie for doing.
I found myself wandering past that wall at Sherman’s park more than I cared to admit. Every time it was the same the shock treatment. A flash of rich hazel depth in those granite eyes; then, they returned to lifeless stone black. Every time I gasped as my heart jolted in my chest and then bit my lip as it fell.
To be honest, I didn’t like the statue. First of all, he was a statue. Who fell in love with a statue? Certainly, not I. Then, I hated the shock treatment. What kind of fool tortured a girl like that? It was simply murderous. But there was one thought that lingered like a wicked black cord. Maybe, he liked me. Maybe that flickering pulse was him responding to my love. Then the demonic thought, what if my love was the only thing keeping him alive. I had to let myself fall just to save him.
I struck up a friendship with the elderly gentleman since we always seemed to meet under the statue.
“I heard that there was like a person in there or something,” I confided one day.
“There was,” grunted the man who had introduced himself as Amadeus.
“What!?” I gasped.
“He is mostly stone now. There just enough of him left to make the decision to escape. I keep telling him to do so before it is too late. I have prepared everything to free him. I just need his consent. Sometimes, I wonder if he can even hear me… If he is still there…” His voice trailed off.
“Doesn’t he know he is dying?”
“No, he is completely deceived. He thinks he is immortal now.”
“Is there any hope?”
I wondered past Sherman’s park one cool autumn evening. I lingered in front of the statue for a long moment. There had been silence between us for a while. The breeze rustled the leaves in the trees and silver moonlight bathed the world in a magical glow. I climb up closer and lay my hand on the cold granite chest. All was lifeless. Then suddenly the huge granite head hurtled towards mine. I felt something like a tooth pierce my lip.
“Oww,” I cried. I licked the offend mandible and tasted the salty taste of blood. I looked up in confusion. He looked back. There was an unfamiliar depth as we gazed passionately into each other’s eyes for a long moment. I fell that night.
That’s when I started to pray –deep heart wrenching prayers punctuated with tears. I begged God to let me have a Pygmalion story. I cried at Amadeus.
“Do something!” I wailed tears streaming down my face. “Don’t you care?”
For the first time, I looked up into Amadeus’ eyes. I saw an exotic mixture of deep love and pain there.
“He is my son,” he said.
I looked down at my feet, but I was somehow comforted by the fact that Amadeus loved my statue more than I ever could. Even though I was losing touch with giant hunk of granite I had come to love.
“I don’t think I it’s healthy for you to be in love with a statue,” Dakota said as we sat at the corner coffee shop studying. I stared furiously into my peppermint tea. You just don’t understand, I thought. I wanted her to just let me get lost with my statue, but she refused. Dakota was a constant and determined friend. We both lapsed back into our studying.
I idly eavesdropped on the two women behind me. The blonde gasped.
“My necklace charm turned into a heart and a key!” she cried.
“What was it before?” The friend questioned.
“Five little stars.”
“Where did you get it?”
“Well, you know how you’re supposed kiss the warrior statue for luck?”
“Well, legend has it that if you’re lucky a necklace will appear around his neck and it’s yours to keep! If it turns into a heart and a key then the key might just fit the little door to his heart!”
“You should try it tonight!”
“I’m going to!”
I glanced up at Dakota. She rolled her eyes, this thing just spreads.
“Did you want to come and hang out with Amadeus in his garden for a little bit before we head back home?” I asked.
“Yes,” Dakota cried in delight.
Later, we found ourselves in Amadeus’s garden. It was twilight and he had lit all the little garden lanterns which cast a soft glow on the flowers. The jasmine on the arbor emitted a sweet tangy scent.
“Hello, ladies!” Amadeus greeted. “You’ve come just in time to plant sunflowers.”
We smiled and got to work. Amadeus gently taught us how. Suddenly, a woman appeared at the gate.
“Help, please, help,” she cried softly. She held a stone statue in her arms. Amadeus jumped to his feet.
“They caught him and turned him into stone,” the woman said. Amadeus opened the gate and let her in.
“How long has he been like this?”
The woman bowed her head. A tear trickled down her face.
“Two months. It’s all my fault,” she whispered. “I couldn’t pay my debt. Can you bring him back?”
Amadeus touched the little statue. Everywhere he touched cracked and the cracks spread like little vines all over the statute until the statue fell limp in the woman’s arms. Then what appeared to be a stony skin slow turned to human flesh. Something like scales fell from the boy’s eyes. His mouth popped open.
“Mama!” he cried a look of terror in his now shiny gray eyes. Then he glanced at Amadeus who smiled reassuringly at the child. The little boy relaxed and smiled back.
“Thank you! Thank you!” The mother wept. She offered a few little coins.
“No,” Amadeus said and he closed her hands back around the coins. “Go in peace.”
I glanced at Dakota in astonishment. She stared back wide-eyed. We were still in a state of shock as we walked home. However, we met with more strangeness.
“What is that girl doing up on the statue?” Dakota asked. I looked up and saw the girl from the café. She was standing beside my statue. She reached into her bosom and pulled out something probably the necklace. She pressed it against the statue. Suddenly, like magic the necklace glowed and fairy dust sparkled all around it. As we got closer, we noticed that she had opened a little door near the statue’s heart. The girl was so enraptured she didn’t even see us. Just under the statue, I glared up into his eyes. He stared back passionately over her shoulder until I looked away blushing.
I was angry. How could he? What a jerk. Despicable two-timer. The poor girl. I fumed all the way home resolving to give the statue the silent treatment from now on.
In the weeks and months that followed, I tried to pretend that I didn’t care anymore. I dared not even look at him, because if I did he would catch my heart like a fish and reeled me in with his eyes. When it did happen, I always tried to fight it, but I always lost to him. I went away blushing and guilty. He always went away relishing his conquest.
Soon enough, I got good at ignoring the statue. Sure, I cried about him now and then in the privacy of my room. I didn’t stop praying for him. Yet, I tried to avoid walking past that part of Sherman’s park. I tried new things. I met new people.
However, it seemed as if I was always running into his lover at the coffee shop her tiny gold necklace mocking me. It was always whispering, if he loved you he’d have given you one.
One day, I walked into the coffee shop, ordered a cup of ginger tea and sat down. The bell on the door tinkled and I looked up. There she was, but something was different. The way she smiled. Her eyes sparkled. Her step was lighter. The necklace was gone.
I felt relieved for her, and terrified for myself. Tonight I had to walk past Sherman’s park on the way to Amadeus’ house. Dragonflies ricochet off my stomach walls as I tried to tip-toe run past the statue. Just as I crept past, something clattered to the ground. It was a silver necklace with five tiny stars. I gasped and tore down the sidewalk as if fleeing for my life. The idea of a relationship terrified me. Why?
It was nothing, I tried to console myself. He must have dropped it by accident. Everything inside me refused to believe this logic. He will catch you… Remember, how he used to look into your eyes, my brain screamed. Remember, how he always won? Part of me didn’t care, but most of me was terrified. What if his touch was as rough as his eyes?
Amadeus looked at me questions in his eyes. I quickly looked away.
“I think I’m going to study dentistry in Mexico,” I said instead.
“That will be fun,” he responded. “You’ll learn a new language and immerse yourself in a new culture.”
The day before I left, I walked past the statue. I stopped and climbed up the massive wall to the statue. I touched his foot.
“No,” he cried. I heard all sorts of emotions struggling in his voice. I was surprised at his anger. I didn’t expect his frustration. It took him a moment for him to compose himself. However, my emotions surprised me most. I felt calm and relieved like a bird about to fly free.
“Please, write me,” he begged.
“Sure,” I shrugged.
“And keep this…”
He gave me a balloon.
Then I climbed down and walked away. For the first time, I felt like I won.
In a strange twist of events, I never made it to Mexico. Instead, found myself in a random Texas town. One sunny afternoon, I wondered into the park. There were no gates. Ducks swam in the little ponds. A variety of bird life sang from the mesquite forests. I found a bench and sat down to read. I hardly noticed the young man sitting at the other end.
“Hey,” he said, “are you new?”
He introduced himself. We chatted. Mostly, him asking generic questions I didn’t want to answer because I didn’t have generic answers. I was noticed that he treated me as a normal human being. He wasn’t checking me out –he was just being friendly. I liked that.
“Come meet my friends,” he said.
I grew to like wandering around the park with him and his friends. Now and then he called me over to see some special flower or bird. He had a smile that lit up his face. His eyes got all squinty and those brown pupils sparkled.
One day, a friend wrote to tell me that the statue no longer stood on his pedestal. “He finally did it. He finally decided to give up his life of stone,” she said.
My heart burst with joy. I sat down to write him a letter. I wanted to know all about it. It didn’t matter that our communication had recently faded into nothing. Now, we would start a friendship that was real.
There was a long period of silence.
Suddenly, I received a letter that appeared to be a response. As I opened it, a silver necklace with five gold stars fell out. It was from “the statue.” I was surprised by the emotions of anger that welled up within me. Yes, I cared. Yes, I had dreamed of this moment, but all of a sudden I didn’t want it. I wanted to throw the necklace back in his face. I asked you for friendship not for love.
I was even more upset to find that he hadn’t even responded to my letter. He never told his story. He didn’t ask how I was doing. There was just a note that said he loved me and was praying that it was God’s will for us to be together. That sounded so serious, so intense.
Frustrated, I went to my mother. “Send it back to him or not. In any case, close the door on that relationship,” she advised. She had never been a huge fan of “the statue.” Yet another adviser, my pastor’s wife, said the same thing.
I packaged up the necklace and set it on a shelf. Before, I got a chance to send it out. A letter came in the mail. It was a response to the letter I wrote and an apology. He said his brother sent the necklace. My mother said he was lying. Now, he was a shadow.
Out of curiosity, I opened the box with the necklace. The necklace was gone. I had one response in my heart for him: goodbye. I wrote it down and mailed it off.
I went to the park to walk and clear my mind. I looked around at the people who had become my family. Apparently, the park was sort of community center in this little town and everyone knew each other.
I watched the couple who had been missionary doctors in Africa teasing each other. I watched the tall German gentle pat the seat next to him his face eagerly beckoning his wife to sit next to him. I watched the short feisty Filipino tenderly wrap his arms around his wife until she blushed, squirmed and giggled. If I got married, I wanted something like that.
I watched the gentle compassion of the theology student; the way he knew how to calm me down when I was distressed. I watched the way the missionary passionately stated his views. I read the words of the writer intentionally leading to God. I watched the university student always being a friend to the friendless. If I got married, I wanted someone like that.
If I got married, I wanted something deep and calm. If I got married, I wanted someone I could be friends with. If I got married, I wanted to feel safe and secure.
I thought about the statue. I loved him, but not like that. He was unliked by my parents, and untrusted by my heart. I wanted to demand back the pieces of my heart I had given him, but I couldn’t. I had given them. One day, he’d clean his house and throw them out like bits of refuse. I shuddered.
I sat down on a park bench. I let go of the balloon I had been carrying around in my right hand all this time. It drifted up, up, up and away. I watched it go. Now, I could use my hand. I flexed it. I felt free.
As I watched the balloon go, I thought about the good. How Amadeus must have felt when he finally got permission to touch the statue with his life-giving hands. How he must have watch the granite crack. How he must have rejoiced when the scales fell off the warrior’s eyes. Yes, the statue would have no longer been a statue, but a real live warrior. I imagined Amadeus’ delight as he watched that massive chest heave for his first breathe. I imagined their first hug. I knew tears would be shining in Amadeus’ eyes. Perhaps, the the warrior would shed a few too. I imagined them walk arm in arm away from the pedestal never to return.
Maybe one day I would see for myself, perhaps in heaven, but for now I would refuse to wallow in the regret of mistakes made. Instead, I would rejoice in the tiny part God let me play in making the statue a real live warrior. Oh, the goodness of God. Oh, the sweetness of answered prayer. Oh, my
You will find that is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. — Unknown