Had to do a little wikipedia hopping to find this week’s inspiration, but I eventually settled on something that felt fitting for the first FridayFlash of October. Hope you all enjoy, and thanks (as always) for reading!
THE BRONZE HEAD
Sylvia had become an expert at spotting diamonds in the rough on the shelves of the town’s thrift store. She had an eye for what things could be rather than what they were. Her friends all eyed her impeccably and uniquely decorated home with envy, and she reveled in it.
The bronze bust had caught her eye immediately. She ran through her mental packet of swatches and immediately settled on a cool blue to cover the ghastly gold. Yes, it would be the perfect finishing touch for her parlor when she was done with it. She rescued it from the shelf and carried it to the register, cradling it as if it were an actual head. She even refused to hand it over to the cashier, instead choosing to show him the price tag. He’d seen weirder behavior, though, and thus he didn’t bat an eye.
A couple of days later, she set to work in her garage, wielding the can of spray paint like a graffiti pro. In mere seconds, the head had a lovely new sheen. “Well, what do you think?” she asked.
“I was partial to the bronze, to be honest, but I suppose I could get used to this.”
She screamed and dropped the can of spray paint. She pressed her hand over her mouth, staring at the head in horror. It stared back, unfazed. She shook her head and walked out into the fresh air. “Paint fumes,” she muttered to herself. “That’s all. Just paint fumes.”
Sylvia returned to the garage, avoiding eye contact with the bust as she picked up the paint can from the floor. She took a deep breath, squared off against the bust, and then looked it in the eye. “You did not just speak,” she told it in no uncertain terms.
It raised an eyebrow at her, but said nothing. The paint can clattered to the floor again as she ran into the house. The bust grimaced, its expression suggesting this reaction was not uncommon.
Greg came home several hours later to find his wife sitting on the sofa, staring devotedly at nothing in particular. “Honey?” She looked up at him, as if confused to see him there. “Are you OK?”
She jumped up and grabbed onto him, almost as if she were afraid of falling. “Take it back,” she whispered.
“Take it back,” she repeated, with more intensity.
“You’re kind of freaking me out, Sylvie.” She pulled him back to the garage door, opened it, and pointed to the bust. “Didn’t you just buy that?”
“Take it back!” The meekness was gone, but the horror was not.
“Can’t we just throw it away? It wasn’t that expensive, was it?”
She shook her head fervently and backed away, closing the door on him. Greg sighed. He walked over to the bust and picked it up. “You’re awfully sad-looking,” he said, examining the face of the sculpture. “Let’s get you back to Goodwill, I guess.” He stuck the head under his arm and got back in his car.
Ten minutes later, he pulled into a parking spot. He looked over to the bust in the passenger’s seat. “Sorry it didn’t work out,” he said, grabbing it and stepping out of the car. “What’d you do to her anyway?”
“I think I scared her,” the bust answered.
Greg dropped the head onto the pavement, where it landed with a thud, punctuated by the ringing of the hidden metal. Greg bent down and peered at it. He nudged it with his toe. Finally, he shook his head, even chuckling at himself a little. He picked up the bust and dusted off the gravel. The paint was marred where the bust had landed, and the bronze was showing through once again.
No emotion registered on the face of the cashier when Greg walked in with the bust. “We don’t take refunds,” was all he said.
“Um, that’s OK,” Greg said, setting the bust on the counter. “Donation.”
“Did you want a receipt for taxes?”
“No, thanks.” And with that Greg was out the door.
The cashier walked up to the bust. “Back again?”
“So it seems,” it answered.
The cashier picked it up and carried it back to its dust-lined shelf. “You’re not giving up hope, are you?”
The bust seemed to mull over the question for a moment. “No. I suppose not. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right?”
“That’s the spirit,” the cashier said, giving it a friendly punch on the chin.
The cashier walked back to the register, and the bust, as it always did, fixed its gaze on the painting on the far wall, waiting once again to catch someone’s eye.
© 2009 Elizabeth Ditty