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Ice Sculptures

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“Hello? Marty are you still there?” I hear my dad say through the phone. I slam the phone back onto the receiver and head over to my work area where I continue to grind down a marble slab into the shape of a person. I think the reason I sculpt is because it is so permanent even when other things aren’t. Through the noise I can’t even hear my own sobs, and I think maybe that is why I am doing it. Marty, I think, that’s what my mom used to call me. He has no right to call me that. With his plan to sell the house I grew up in, the house full of memories, the house where I had laughed with my mother, we have become even further apart then the thousands of miles we were before. I can remember a time we weren’t so distant, before everything changed.

It was a bright autumn day in Maine, just as the leaves were beginning to fall, and a young boy, six or seven at the oldest, skipped along a gravel road in a park, never thinking that about the tragedies that life could hold. He had no reason to, for at the moment he was extremely excited because he had his parent’s full attention for a whole day. As they came to a clearing he ran ahead to find the perfect picnic spot. “Mom,” the boy said,” Can we play hide and seek?”


“As soon as we get the picnic blanket layed out,” his mom replied.


“You can go, I’ll finish this,” the father said.
The boy ran off, his footsteps racing his mother’s voice as she counted. Just in time he ducked behind a gnarled oak tree. “Ready or not, here I come! Marty, where are you?” shouted the boy’s mother,” I know you’re here somewhere!” The boy giggled behind the tree, as his mother approached. The boy snuck out from the tree and slowly began to follow her. “BOO!” he shouted. His mother jumped in mock surprise.
And not to long after the boy was surprised himself, not even surprised I would say, but shocked. That was a very different day. That day was a gloomy dark winter day. There was no snow on the ground, but the breeze was enough to chill you to the bone. That was the day that the boy felt the tragedy that comes with every life. When he got home, his father met him at the door, face blotchy and cheeks covered in tears. From the moment the door opened the boy knew something was wrong.


“It’s your mother,” his dad choked through tears,” She’s gone.” That was all he needed to say. The boy froze in shock and sank to the ground, clutching his father’s pant leg. He sobbed and sobbed until the tears could come no more. Then he lay on the couch where his mom had always read to him when he was younger staring of into the distance unmoving for hours. He could remember reading his favorite book, The Phantom Tollbooth , and how he would laugh at “I’m not the weatherman, I’m the whetherman!” every time they read it. And when relatives began to gather he still would just sit there staring. Eventually he had to adjust back to normal life, but every day he would sit in the corner of that couch and just wish, just wish that the car crash had never happened, wish that he had at least been able to say goodbye.

I sink into the corner of my couch the same couch on which my mother used to read to me and cry. Cry because my mother is gone. Cry because my father isn’t strong enough, cry because of change. I remember how my father used to arrive home from work and just sink into his bed shielding himself from the sorrow. How he took down all of the pictures of mom around the house and put them in the attic so as not to be constantly reminded of the pain we had gone through. How he never would talk about her around me, but I could hear him cry late at night through the door of his room. Suddenly I feel a mounting anger at my father for not being strong when I needed him to be there , to comfort me. I hated him for wading in his sorrow, when I was already six feet under water. I walk across the room to my half finished sculpture and smash it to pieces with my mallet. I don’t stop until it is a pile of dust and as the tears steam down my face and I choke on the sediment in the air, I feel I have finally done something, I have stood up for myself against the misery that is my life. But it doesn’t last long. I begin to think back to how my mother would always encourage me to take out my anger through art. And truly after her death I did. I drew and I painted and I sculpted my anger away. I felt that art was so much more permanent than life could ever be. A sculpture could last hundreds of years, but a life could end at any time. How can I truly represent my feelings of my mother with something so permanent as marble I think? I need something that is as sudden and unpredictable as life itself.

I stay up all through the night with my air conditioning as low as it goes, and carve. I slowly shape the ice, not letting any drop of water go to waste. Then as the morning sun dawns on a bright autumn day I sit on my couch, and watch as it slowly melts away, each drop a memory glistening in the sunlight.





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