The Field Trip
Kate clutched her sketchbook in her arms and stared. The way the sculptor brought life to stone always amazed her. The girl with roses in her hair seemed so real. She reached out with one hand to touch the cold lips but pulled back reflexively when the Professor called her.
“Kay!” he shouted across the room. “Anytime now, hon. The rest of the class has moved on, but if you like we can all wait on you.”
Jerk, Why does he have to embarrass me in front of everyone?, Kate thought. She only answered, “Sorry! I’m coming!” Crossing the room, she ignored the eyes of her peers to glance back at the marble maiden. Did she just move?
No, she answered herself. I must be stressed. I’m seeing things.
The empty eyes of the ivory girl followed her.
Kate looked at the postcard, remembering the field trip. She’d always loved the Museum. She went as often as possible, especially since college students didn’t need to pay. Roaming the granite halls, she spent hours lost in paintings, plaster, and marble. But something about this particular statue peaked her interest. Since it’s arrival only the month previous, she’d been somewhat obsessed with it. She fantasized that the stone girl wanted to tell her something, if only Kate could reach her. She imagined the right strokes on pale paper breaking a spell and bringing her to life.
She wasn’t a great artist, which she admitted to anyone that asked. Nevertheless, she signed up for every drawing, painting, or other creative class she could. She wasn’t bad. She just wasn’t very good. The idea of bringing to life an idea or story had always attracted her. Maybe her current fixation was just her mind’s way of telling herself to try her hand at sculpture. Maybe that would reveal her hidden talent, buried inside, waiting to be unleashed by chisel and hammer.
She took another quick look before pinning the photo to the wall. She compared her sketch with the photo. Her graphite roses seemed off, and the girl’s chin wasn’t quite right. There was something missing in her expression, something sad and nameless in the eyes. Well, maybe she’d get it right later or go back tomorrow. Yes, that was the answer. How accurate could she be from just a photo? It was silly, but she felt the girl deserved better.
The next day, Kate stepped off the bus, adjusted her pack, and walked through the museum. She’d meant to come earlier in the day, when the lighting would be better, but she’d missed the bus. A friend offered her a ride, then backed out, and after heated words she found herself at the bus stop again. The museum would close soon. There was hardly any point in coming at all.
She walked straight to the statue, looked in its eyes, then pulled a stool from out of the corner. She pulled out her sketchbook and pencil and began to draw.
Kate looked up from the pad in her hand. The girl in the statue said nothing. She looked around at the nearly empty room. Patrons were slowly filing out. It must be someone else, Kate thought, bending to her task once more.
She looked up quickly. Did she just see those eyes blink? I must be going mad, she scolded herself. She pulled her shawl around her more closely and swore off soda for a week. Too much caffeine played tricks with your mind. She stared at the girl for a full minute before turning her gaze downward.
When the light began to dim, she looked up suddenly, shocked out of her reverie. Moving the number 2 in her hand, dusting off the rubber trail of her eraser, smudging the lines on creamy paper had taken her out of time. She had felt nothing and seen no one except the ivory faced girl and the results of her own labor.
She sat alone in the darkened room, empty of all save herself, the stone girl, and a dozen other statues.
A figure came around the corner, stopping to look at Kate.
“What are you still doing here, little girl?” he asked. She winced at the voice behind her. She hated jabs about her age.
“Sorry, sir. I lost track of time. I didn’t mean to stay past closing,” Kate called back, hurriedly packing away her things and slinging her bag over her shoulder. She turned to face the man stepping out of the shadows.
“Professor Alpha? I didn’t know…” her voice trailed off. What was he doing here? Moonlighting?
“You know, I knew the moment I saw you that you were just what I needed,” he said, advancing slowly. Kate retreated involuntarily, her back pressed against the flowing frozen folds of the maiden’s gown. The stone lent her strength. No stalker was going to push her around!
“Wow,” she said, reaching down into her half-closed bag, “I knew you were a rotten teacher. I didn’t know you were a pervert.” She gripped the pencil tightly in her hand, hidden from his view.
“Is that what you think?” he smirked.
Suddenly, Kate felt cold hands on her shoulders. Her spine turned to ice water as she heard the thoughts whispered in her ear.
“Hate to tell you this, girly, but I’m not the one you should be afraid of.”
Kate shook, paralyzed with fear.
“You thought you chose her? You wanted to bring her to life!” His smile sliced her in two. “Well, then today’s your lucky day.”
Dread welled up in her as she felt, more than heard, his next words.
“Because SHE chose YOU.”
The man and the young girl held hands as they left the statue behind in the darkened room. The empty eyes seemed to follow them, along with a silent sob.
*Written for #fridayflash at Twitter. Please let me know what you think. Any suggestions you have would be welcome. Thanks!