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Pursuit of Perfection
There once was an artist who lived in a castle. The artist had a problem, and the problem was that he had achieved perfection. There was nothing left for him to do, and the artist grew bored and restless. He walked the halls, pacing, racking his brain for an original idea, but in his perfection he had used them all up already. Then, one day, a bird landed on his windowsill.
“Little bird!” The artist cried. “What can I do? For surely someone as pretty as you can help a poor artist.”
The little bird bobbed its head and flashed its colors. “Your sculptures cannot breathe, can they? They cannot move, can they? You claimed perfection too hastily.” The bird chirped and flew off, leaving a red and orange feather of the window sill.
The artist was astonished, and inspired. He set off to town to buy plaster for a mold, and bronze to melt and marble to carve. He bought fresh chisels and brushes, and paid the most beautiful girl in town to sit in front of him as a model.
He worked for uncountable days and nights. The first week he spent sketching. He took the drawing of the girl and revised it, making the girl into a women, making every inch of her perfect. He agonized over what sort of dress she should wear, debated the color of her eyes, and spent an hour finding the perfect skin tone. Finally, he had a painting of a gorgeous woman, and the first stage was done.
Next, he took a block of marble, six feet tall and three feet wide, and, with his painting mounted on an easel beside him, took a chisel and began to make an outline. Within a week, his block of marble had become 5 foot five inches, and only one foot wide. It had all the curves of his woman, but none of the details. The details came next.
It took him a year to finally finish making the roughhewn outline into an exact likeness of the painting. It was perfect, but it wasn’t alive yet. He would need to paint it. The artist took his brush and went to work, making sure that no glob of paint dripped and ruined his masterpiece, made sure every color was perfect before adding it. And then, after a month of hard, tedious work, he had painted his statue. But it still wasn’t alive yet.
So the artist took the red-orange bird feather and brushed it across her eyes and nose and mouth. And then, his statue breathed. He had built her sitting down, like his original model, and she stood up suddenly, gasping for air, staring around wildly. The artist yelped in amazement and happiness. He had achieved perfection in truth.
The woman spoke, in a beautiful lilting tone, high but not squeaky. “Who the hell are you?”
The artist frowned. He had not imagined is creation to be quit that rude. He had built a lady, but apparently some of the girl was still inside of her. “I am your creator,” the artist said.
“So you built me? Why?” The woman walked closer, suspicious. “You’re not some sort of perverted rapist, are you?”
The artist blushed angrily. “I made you to be perfection. I wanted to make the most beautiful thing in the world.”
“You’re a perverted rapist, don’t try to deny it. Well, I don’t hold with perverted rapists.” And with that the woman walked out the door, her perfect dress muddying itself on the doorframe. The artist stared, shocked, and then dashed out the door after his lady.
The woman looked at the artist running after her, and began to run herself, down the hill were the castle was and into the town. The artist had built her to be strong and quick, and the lady soon outdistanced her creator.
But the artist was stubborn, and chased his perfect creation around the town, through alleyways and busy streets, weaving between stalls and knocking over people. But the end was inevitable, and the artist returned to his castle defeated.
The bird was perched on his doorknob. It looked at him, its head cocked. The artist glared. “You told me to make it alive, and that would be perfect. But she wasn’t perfect, she was crass and rebellious.”
The bird chirped and said, “You tried to make a breathing statue, a statue that you could control, nothing more. You didn’t want to make life, and when you did, she saw you for what you were, and ran away. I go to give my feather to someone more worthy.”
And with that, the bird flew off, leaving behind only white bird poop dripping off the doorknob.
Bronx, New York
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