A Different Blue Page 35

Wilson had taken ‘The Arc.’ I felt a thrill that he had recognized it for what it was. I had found a piece of mesquite that hid a curve in its line. Slowly, I had cut away the wood, forming the suggestion of a woman on her knees, back curved like a cat, deeply bowed in worship or subservience. Her body formed an arc, her arms stretching beyond a head which nearly kissed the ground into hands that curled into fists clenched in supplication. As with all my pieces, it was completely abstract, the suggestion of the woman merely that, a hint, a possibility. Some might simply see the highly-glossed wood, shaped into long lines and provocative hollows. But as I had carved, all I could see was Joan. All I could hear were her words. “To live without belief is a fate worse than death.” My Joan of Arc. And that was the one Wilson had purchased.

About a week later I walked into Wilson's classroom and stopped so suddenly the people walking behind me collided like human dominos, creating a little traffic jam in the doorway. I was jostled and complained about as my disgruntled classmates made their way around my inert form. My sculpture was sitting on a table in the center of the room. Wilson stood by his desk, talking with a student. I stared, willing him to look up, to explain what his game was. But he didn't.

I made my way slowly to my desk, front and center, putting me directly in front of the sculpture I had created with my own hands. I didn't have to look at the long lines or gleaming wood to know where I had patched a worm hole or cut more deeply than I had planned. I could close my eyes and remember how it had felt to form the suggestion of womanly curves bowed like Atlas with France on her back.

“Blue?” Wilson called from where he still stood by his desk. I turned my head slowly and looked at him. I didn't think the expression on my face was especially friendly. He didn't react to my glare but calmly asked me to “come here, please.”

I approached carefully and stopped in front of his desk, my arms folded.

“I want you to tell the class about your sculpture.”


“Because it's brilliant.”

“So?” I ignored the pleasure that flooded my chest at his pronouncement.

“You named it ‘The Arc.’ Why?”

“I was hungry . . . thinking about McDonalds, you know?”

“Hmm. I see. As in the golden arches.” A small smile twitched at the corners of Wilson's mouth. “You haven't written more than a paragraph in your personal history. Maybe there are other ways to share who you are. I thought maybe this piece was about Joan of Arc, which would make it especially relevant. Consider it extra credit . . . which frankly, you need.”

I considered retorting with the famous line, 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.' But that wasn't true. I did. In a very small corner of my heart, the thought of talking about my sculpture filled me with elation. But the rest of my heart was terrified.

“What do you want me to say?” I whispered, the panic oozing out and ruining my tough girl posture.

Wilson's eyes softened, and he leaned toward me across the desk. “How about I just ask you some questions and you answer them. I'll interview you. Then you won't have to think of things to say.”

“You won't ask me anything personal . . . about my name or my dad . . . or anything like that, will you?”

“No, Blue. I won't. The questions will be about the sculpture. About your uncanny gift. Because, Blue, your work is brilliant. Tiffa and I were blown away. She can't stop talking about you. In fact,” Wilson reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a card. “Tiffa asked that I give you this.”

It was a shiny black card with gold lettering. Tiffany W. Snook – The Sheffield was all it said. A phone number and an email account graced the right hand corner. I ran my fingers over the engraved letters and then peered up at him suspiciously.

“The Sheffield is the big hotel on the south end of the strip that looks like an English Estate, right? The one where your girlfriend works?”

“Tiffa is a curator for both the art museum and the gallery. She bought nine of your pieces Friday night. Did you know that? She would have purchased ten, but I begged her to let me have just one.”

“I knew she bought them. I didn't know why, though. I'm still not sure I do.”

“She wants to place a couple of your pieces in the gallery and see how they do. The Sheffield will take a cut if they sell. But she'll give you what's left, minus what she already paid.”

“But she bought them. She can do what she wants with them.”

Wilson shook his head. “Call her, Blue. If you don't, she'll hunt you down. She's very persistent. Now, the class is waiting.”

The kids behind me weren't waiting. They were noisily enjoying the fact that class hadn't started, but I didn't argue with him. I returned to my seat, wondering how long it would be until Wilson embarrassed me. It wasn't long.

“Many of you are most likely wondering about this stunning sculpture.” I wished he would lay off the over-the-top descriptions and cringed a little. He turned toward a boy who sat to my right named Owen Morgan.

“Owen, can you read the word carved down here by the base of the sculpture?”

Owen stood and crouched down so he could see the word Wilson was pointing to.

“Echohawk,” Owen read. “Echohawk?” he repeated with a surprised inflection. Owen whipped his head toward me, his eyebrows raised doubtfully. I really, really didn't like Wilson very much at that moment.

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