The Artist – August 2007 Part XI The Conclusion

As it turned out, Nathan and I returned to the studio the next evening and indeed the piece was finished. Mind you, we still had to spend most of the night allowing the kiln to cool down before we dared remove my precious art piece from within. I’m pleased to say, it came out perfectly. It was everything I wanted it to be.

“It’s beautiful,” Nathan told me inside our shared space.

“I wouldn’t have been able to finish it without your help,” I replied. “I wish I could thank you properly…”

“How do you mean?” he replied curiously. 

“You know, giving you a huge hug and all that,” I told him, shrugging our shoulders.

Next thing I knew we were face to face again, inside his mind once more. We were surrounded by fleeting images of his memories again, and this time I caught a few glimpses of our working on my sculpture.

Meanwhile, Nathan opened his arms and I quickly did the same.

“Thank you… thank you so much…” I blubbed, feeling tears of actual tears running down my cheeks. Then I pulled back and looked at him and asked, “Why? Why did you do all this, sharing your body with me and all?”

“Because, you asked for my help,” he said simply.

I shook my head eyeing him carefully, “No, there’s more to it than that. You’ve let me inside you, literally, in a way you yourself said you rarely do. So why me?”

All around us the images changed and I saw myself, much younger, eyes wide and frightful. That’s when I got it. “You felt guilty about me seeing what you did to those men, all those years ago,” I breathed.

He nodded. “The look in your eyes whenever we met, I never understood why you looked so troubled and standoffish. I just thought I was just reminding you of what you went through. I’d had no idea you saw…”

I reached up and stroked his face. “Don’t. Neither Brian nor I would be here today if you hadn’t shown up and did what you did.”

“I killed…”

“People who had tortured children and were going to do much worse. Plus, you were already injured and still outnumbered. They pushed you too far and you fought back the only way left to you. Not to save yourself, but to save me, Brian and all those other children. I know that now. I also know you’re a good person, which is why I trusted you enough to accept your offer to help me. And I’m never going to forget it,” I told him.

“Thank you,” he sighed and finally smiled. We hugged again and as we separated, I guess I had a funny expression on my face, because he asked, “What is it?”

“The door between us? You said you could close it when we were done, but… would please leave it open, just a crack? Please?” I asked hopefully.
“Is that what you want?”

I nodded.

He smiled. “Always.”

I hugged him again and soon after I found myself back in my body in my hospital room. No one was there, but I didn’t feel alone. I could still feel Nathan, and that made it easier for me to rest.

All of this happened about two months ago, and I can still feel his presence even when he’s not around. But, tonight I can see as well as feel him. Here at my exhibition, he’s been making the rounds, but was close by when it came time to unveil my piece. My jaw and hands are still healing, although I can actually talk again. As for the hands, they’ve responded well to the surgeries and I’m even using clay as part of my therapy to build up strength in them again. But now I know for sure I’ll be able to keep making works of art and beauty once more.

As you can expect, my mom burst into tears of joy when she saw it. She hugged me, carefully of course, since I’m still healing. Still it was so worth it. She could barely speak, she was so moved, but her eyes and smile spoke louder than the entire New York Philharmonic symphony blasting the 1812 overture. 

I briefly wondered if Nathan was feeling what I was experiencing, then saw the huge smile on his face across the room. Brian and his family were with them, as well as Jack’s. They’re part of what Nathan calls his “extended” family, and now I am too…

“And always will be…” I hear in my head. 

“Back at you,” I reply through our link, and he smiles.

  • THE END

The Artist- August 2007 Part X

“Okay,” I said aloud, “First I’m going to place the sculpture inside the kiln and set it to just under 200 degrees.” As I/we spoke, I did exactly that. Opening up the kiln and then ever so carefully placed my masterwork inside. Then I proceeded to set the kiln in motion.

“How long will this take?” Brian asked curiously.

“Possibly, until morning or noon,” I answered, and proceeded to settle down on the couch Brian had been sleeping on earlier. 

“And then it will be finished?” asked Nathan through our shared mouth.

“No, that’s when I HOPE it will be dry and safe enough to proceed with the actual firing schedule I mentioned before,” I answered.

I suddenly felt a sense of unease inside. “Nathan?” I asked mentally.

“Someone needs to be here the whole time, and I didn’t bring anything I might need,” he answered. 

“Like blood?’

“Yeah,” we shook our head, “I hadn’t anticipated such an eventuality.”

“Oh dear…” I murmured aloud, which caught Brian’s attention and told him the situation.

He smiled and assured us that a call to Jack would take care of that problem in no time.

Still Nathan seemed uneasy. After a bit of mental urging he told me what was bothering him. “I’ve never had someone inside my head when I’ve had to satisfy my ‘needs’. I was figuring on having you back in your own body before it became a necessity.”

Now, I understood. But if we were to dry my sculpture in the kiln, I needed to be here. Especially if I wanted it to be ready on time. 

Taking over the mouth again I said, “Brian please make the call so we can have everything Nathan needs while he and I finish my sculpt.”

Inside our head I heard Nathan saying, “Are you sure about this?”

“Yes,” I replied. “You’ve done so much already, the least I can do is not let you be deprived of what you need.”

“You do realize that when I ‘drink’…”

“Yeah, I get that. I’m just going to tell myself we’re drinking a Bloody Mary.” To my relief, he didn’t argue. Which is good because I then thought about the literal version of the drink I’d mentioned, I began to get uneasy myself.So together we settled in on the couch, while Brian called the hospital. About half an hour later, Dr. Jack showed up with what Nathan needed, as well as some regular food. 

The four of us sat and ate (well three actually ate), but still I got to enjoy experiencing how Nathan’s  sense of smell and taste worked. He’s got much more acute senses on both those fronts, than I had expected. Of course, when it came to what he really needed, I went to my ‘Happy Place’ inside our shared head. Although I have to admit, I did kind of take notice of what the blood tasted like and how his body reacted to it. I can sympathize with how taking in blood is not something that is ‘optional’ for him. But I won’t go into that, it’s not my place to go there. 

But afterwards, ‘we’ felt much better and after shooing Brian and Dr. Jack to their respective homes, Nathan and I began the long ‘firing’. We passed the time sharing thoughts and life experiences. Too numerous and private to share here. Then after morning came and I was convinced the clay was dry enough, we fired the kiln up to a proper level to finish what I had started. 

These next hours would be crucial and we’d have to watch the piece as carefully as possible. I had noticed that during the drying, I could actually hear some of the moisture escaping the clay inside the kiln through Nathan’s ears. I found this very reassuring. It meant that if any cracking began to take place during the final firing, we’d hear it and could take action.

After setting things in motion, we began the last stage of our vigil. To pass the time I convinced Nathan to pull out some of the clay here in the studio and we began working with it. It was kind of fun to experience with him the joy of going from doubtful about his ability to create with clay to enthusiastic. It took me back to my first time working with the creative process in three dimensions.

Of course we kept an eye on how the firing process was coming along as we passed the hours. I thought heard a pop at one point, which turned out to have come from outside. Damn his hearing could be a little too good. When evening came, we started to let the kiln and it’s precious content cool down. I knew at this point there was nothing else we could do and let Nathan know. 

“In that case, I think we should let you get back to your body for the night,” he replied.  

The next thing I knew I was staring up at the ceiling of my hospital room. A moment later, Dr. Jack’s smiling visage came into view. 

“Welcome back,” he smiled, “Blink once for yes and twice for no. Everything go okay?”

I responded as he instructed.

“So it’s all done?”

I blinked twice and spent the next ten minutes answering his questions. By the time we finished he had a pretty good understanding of where things stood. “I see,” he nodded, “So Nathan will be taking you back again tomorrow. I’ll make sure you’re still undisturbed, aside from the staff again. Hopefully, tomorrow will be it.”

So did I….

TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT TIME…

The Artist – August 2009 Part IX

 I/we made our way over to the plastic covered figure and carefully unwrapped it. Somewhere behind us Brian took in a deep breath, followed by the words, “Oh my God… it’s… it’s going to be one of your best pieces.”

I felt/heard Nathan share the same sentiments inside our shared head. “Agreed.”

“But there’s still so much to do,” I told them both, glancing over at the wall next to the sculpture. There was a bulletin board with several photos of my grandfather, at least one of them in uniform. The rest were a couple of him even younger, as well as several of him later in life. I had gathered them to try and help me capture the spark of determination in his eye, the set of his jaw, as well as the… the spirit of the man who would come out of not just one but two great wars. I wanted to capture the man he was and would become all in one shot.

But now I hesitated and looked down at my/our hands. I knew they could work the clay, but would they have ‘my’ touch?

“Of course they will,” Nathan assured me. “This is where I take a backseat. You’re in charge. Just think of your grandfather and go for it.”

As soon as I heard those words in my head, I saw my grandfather in my mind as clear as day. Clearer than I’d ever been able to remember him. Honestly, I could see every detail in his face that I wanted to capture and just knew what needed to be done. 

What happened over the next twelve hours will remain with me forever. Never had the clay felt so soothing and yielding to my touch. It and I were in harmony like never before. Had Brian not fallen asleep, letting out the occasional snore, I would never have realized how much time was passing. Nathan and I only paused briefly to allow him to take over and drink what our body needed, before going back to work. 

Every now and again, I’d start to wonder if he wasn’t helping guide my hands, but I knew better. I could sense his wonder at what his hands were helping create under my direction.  Finally, we took step back and into Brian who had been fast asleep on the couch nearby. I’d it in the studio from day one, knowing there’d be times when I would need to stay overnight from time to time. I admit it, when I get going I don’t like to let up some days.

“What the… huh?” Brian muttered then his eyes fell on the sculpt. “Oh my God! It’s… it’s perfect!” he breathed.

“You’re telling me,” Nathan murmured out of our shared mouth. I could actually feel his sense of awe which only added to my delight in this moment. I’d succeeded! But there was still more work to be done.

Walking over to the shelves I pulled out a long thin wire with wooden handles tied to each end. Then I headed back over to the piece and started stretching the wire from the head of the piece down to its base. 

“Um… what are we doing?” Nathan asked aloud. I realized this was for Brian’s sake, as he was looking as puzzled as Nathan was feeling.

“This,” I replied and pulled on the handles of the wire, which slowly sank into the clay, neatly severing the sculpture into two sections. 

“OH MY GOD! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” Nathan cried, making us take a step back. But I quickly took over and brought us back just in time to catch the back half of the piece before it fell onto the table. 

Before I could explain, Brian cut in saying, “Oh… that’s so you can remove the armature inside the statue.”

Inside our head, I heard Nathan spluttering, “The who… what… where? Wait, this was supposed to happen?”

Patiently, I explained, “You don’t get two feet of clay to stay upright all on it’s own. Take a closer look. See, there’s metal rod attached to the base that runs inside the entire sculpt.”

“Okay, yeah I see that,” Nathan responded, still sounding a bit shocked.

“Well, that has to come out before I put the piece in the kiln for one thing. For another, I have to start hollowing out the entire piece.”

“Hollowing it out?”Nathan repeated, this time aloud for Brian’s benefit.

“That’s right, like this,” I gently held the one half that had come off the main piece into one hand, while I grabbed a tool from nearby in the other. From there I proceeded to scrape out some of the interior of the piece I was holding. 

Remembering to speak out loud, I continued, “Now, I’m going to remove just enough clay so that the remaining shell is just under an inch thick all around. Then I’m going to do the same to the other half that’s still on the armature. This it to keep it from cracking when it goes into the kiln. I’m also going to poke a bunch of 1/2 in deep holes to also prevent cracking.”

Naturally, I did as I promised, allowing both Nathan and Brian to see what I meant. Then I did the same to the other half. When both were nicely hollowed out and pricked, I began scouring the edges of both halves where the wire had cut them, and then brushed the edges with a water. “Since this is a water-based clay, this will allow me to put them back together,” I explained.

“But what about the seams where the two halves meet?” came Nathan’s voice out of our mouth.

“I was wondering the same thing,” added Brian, who had been watching the entire process intently.


I’ll add more clay and smooth it all out, and then rework it into the rest of the design,” I told them. 

An hour later, the piece was whole again, without the slightest hint that it had been cleaved in two. 

“So now you put it in the kiln?” Nathan asked out loud.

“Yes, but we’re going to use a low heat to dry it out. The process is called ‘candling’. Then once the clay is really good and dry, we’ll start the firing schedule,” I replied.

“The what?” Nathan asked out loud again.

I winced inwardly. Obviously, neither of them had any clue how long this was going to take. Plus, I was starting to get worried about my physical form back at the hospital. The three of us really needed to talk things out before anything else could happen.

TO BE CONTINUED…

The Artist – August 2009 Part VI

When I woke up, it was evening again. Apparently, I’d slept through the entire day – aside from being woken up to be given medicines or have my temperature taken. Around seven Dr. Jack, Brian and Nathan came into my room and closed the door behind them. That was when I knew something big was up. Especially with the looks on both Brian and Jack’s faces. The two of them kept glancing uneasily at Nathan, which started making me nervous about him all over again.

Something in my eyes must’ve shown because Nathan paused as he started to sit down next to my bed again. Frowning, he looked from me to the other two and back. Finally he said, “Great, now I know how you two guys felt when I was in mental contact with her, this morning. Now is anyone going to let me in on the secret or are we going to play charades? Which would be really tough on her, considering her condition.”

I made a little noise to get his attention and then began inhaling deeply to get my point across.

“Oh, right,” Nathan nodded and once more one of his hands misted allowing me to breath it in and communicate more freely.

“Why are they staring at you so anxiously?” I asked mentally, trying to keep my own anxiety in check.

Nathan gave the other two a look and turned back to me. “Because, I told them what I have in mind to help you finish your art piece in time for the exhibition,” he said gently. “However, neither of them are all that sure you’re going to like my proposal, or at least what it involves.”

While I couldn’t move my jaw without severe pain, I had no problem raising a questioning eyebrow at him. Finally I thought, “Care to elaborate?”

He thought for a moment before saying, “Depends. Do you want the full-scale slideshow presentation or the bottom line version?”

“Bottom line, please,” was my reply.

“I’m going to give you access to my eyes and control of my hands,” Nathan answered.

“Come again?” I asked mentally.

Leaning forward he explained. “As you said yesterday, I don’t have the skills to manipulate the clay and do what’s needed to get your sculpture ready.  But you do. You know how the clay should feel and how to handle the tools and whatnot. However, you can’t leave this bed, at least not physically. But,  what if I took you with me to the studio ‘mentally’ so to speak?”

I admit I was both puzzled and intrigued. “Do you mean like how we’re communicating right now? Through this bond you made?”

“It will be something a bit stronger,” he replied and leaned forward. “You’d actually be able to see through my eyes and even feel whatever I touch or manipulate with my hands.”

For a moment I was tempted, then shook my head. “You still wouldn’t know how to manipulate the clay or the tools…” I began.

“But you would if I let you control my hands,” he cut in patiently. “Which is what I plan to do. Once we were in the studio I’d let you take over, up to a point. I’d get everything ready, under your guidance, but when it came time to actually work on the sculpture you’d be in charge. I’d be sort of in the background watching and experiencing what you do.”

It sounded insane, yet at the same time I was intrigued. Then a thought hit. “What about my body back here? What will be happening to it?” 

“You’d basically be asleep,” Nathan assured me. “You’d still be breathing and everything, It would just be your conscious self would be awake seeing and feeling through me.”

I had to admit it sounded like a very good idea. Yet I couldn’t stop glancing over at Brian and Jack, who were still looking uneasy, even worried.

They must’ve caught me staring at them because Brian finally spoke up. “Before anyone gets too excited, Nathan you might want to tell her what has to happen for this little experiment to take place.”

Immediately, my heart sank. For Brian to look this worried, it had to be something bad. Turning my gaze to Nathan I thought, “Is there something you haven’t brought up yet?”


Without blinking my would-be savior shifted uncomfortably and then glared at the other two. For a second he put me in mind of the cartoon mouse “The Brain” shooting a dirty look at his partner “Pinky”. A silent exchange of heated gestures passed between the three of them, before Nathan finally turned back to me and smiled sheepishly. “As a matter of fact, yes. Yes, there is…”

“And what is it?” Even without being able to move my mouth, I managed to put an pointed edge to the question.

“To make this happen, I’ll need to bite you,” he winced.

TO BE CONTINUED…

“The Artist” – August 2009 Part – V

*A quick note from one of the authors: Sorry for the delay in getting this part uploaded, but both WordPress and Blogger have been making changes to their systems lately and that threw me for a while. I’m still having trouble with Blogger, which hosts the sister-site to this blog, so this installment is only appearing here. Hope to keep things more regular in the future as this story has grown much larger life than I’d originally anticipated. But the payoff will be well worth it I think. I love exploring some of the new ways of using Nathan’s abilities. So without further ado, let us continue the story…”

 

After a few seconds, Nathan came back with Dr. Jack. If I could have, I would’ve been grinning from ear to ear. Yet somehow he sensed the change in my attitude towards him. For one thing he smiled, then came over and pulled up a chair next to my bed. My mind raced with questions, especially one… but then I remembered I couldn’t speak or use my hands.

He must’ve seen something in my eyes, because he frowned and asked softly, “Is my being so close a problem?”

Forgetting myself I started to shake my head a little too vigorously, which caused me to let out a groan of pain.

Nathan reached out a hand and touched my brow and said, “Easy. Listen, I can tell you want to say something important. And I think I know a way to help, but I’m going to need you to trust me. Can you do that?”

I managed a little “Uh-huh…” noise in my throat.

Green_Mist_by_Devvyn

“Good,” he replied gently and held up a hand. A moment later, a greenish mist began emanating from his sleeve. Before I knew it, I couldn’t see his hand anymore, only the mist, only now I could also detect little flashes of blue in the miasma. “If you breathe this in, it will allow us to make a mental connection between us. I won’t be able to read your mind, but I’ll be able to get impressions of what you want to say and I can act as your voice. Are you all right with that?”

This time I gave him several muffled but eager “Uh-huhs.”

“Okay,” he nodded and brought the sleeve with the mist closer to my face. “Now, just breathe normally, there’s no need to inhale deeply.”

For the record, I really tried to do as he instructed. But I was so eager to try to communicate with everyone I wound up doing an impression of a junkie with couple of rolled up twenties stuffed up my nose.

Nathan pulled his arm back and stared at the now empty cuff  muttering, “I’m going to need that hand back eventually.”

I started to mentally apologize when suddenly I heard my thoughts come out of his mouth. “Sorry about that. I hope I didn’t… Oh my God you’re talking in my voice!”

Nathan gave me an embarrassed grin.  “I hope you don’t mind, I just thought it would be easier to do things this way so these two would know who’s saying what.”

Glancing over at Brian and Dr. Jack I could see they were both staring at us in surprise.

After a moment Brian said, “I had no idea you could do that, Nathan.”

psychic-connection

“It’s a little something Otto figured out some years ago on one of our expeditions to another Para-Earth,” my hero explained shyly. “We already knew I could help pacify a being who inhaled my mist form, by making our intentions known that we weren’t a threat. But he thought I could take it a little farther if I put a little more of myself into the mist to establish a rapport so to speak. Mind you it only works with beings whose minds are similar enough to ours in thought for me to understand what they want to say. Believe me, it doesn’t always work, but I knew it would in this case.”

He turned back to me then and asked, “Are you okay? Or is this too weird?”

Taking a deep breath, I shook my head slightly and thought, “No. In fact it’s more than I hoped for.” Admittedly seeing and hearing my thoughts coming out of his mouth, was kind of weird, but not so much that I didn’t want him to break our connection. With this new method of communication available to me, I told them everything that had been troubling me. They listened patiently and gave me all the assurances they could. But when I told them about the unfinished sculpture of my grandfather back in my studio and how important it was to me, they fell silent.

I think a full minute passed before Nathan broke the silence. “Even if we brought the piece here, there’s no way you could work on it. Not with your hands in their current state.”

I shook my head sadly.

He took a deep breath and looked down at his own. He had two again which surprised the rest of us.

Glancing up he noticed the rest of us staring and grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, felt weird just having one, so I shaved a pound or two from other areas and grew a new one.” Then he turned to me and asked, “Here’s a thought. With our connection, would I be able to finish the piece under your guidance?”

Have you ever worked with clay before?”

“No, but I’m a fast learner,” he replied.

I sank into my pillow a little more and thought about it. After a few moments, I shook my head ever so slightly. Whenever I worked in clay there was a connection between me and my creation. I knew how the clay should feel as I smoothed and shaped it. There was no way I could convey these concepts and techniques by simply instructing him.

Nathan must’ve ‘heard’ my thoughts because he began nodding his head. “Yeah, I didn’t about that. You and the clay kind of become one when you’re working with it.” Then he stood up. “Let me give it some thought. I think there might be a way to help. Okay?”

I carefully nodded. And that’s where we left things. He came back the next evening with the most unbelievable suggestion I’d ever heard.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

 

 

 

The Artist – August 2009 Part III

Of course the accident happened shortly after that and I wound up in the hospital. And as you know I received dozens of visitors who constantly reassured me that everything would be all right. Such words and sentiments were always welcome and helped make the day pass more easily.

But night-time was another matter. Everything would be quiet, aside from the staff making their rounds. Occasionally one would wake me up to draw blood or give me my medications, but for the most part I was on my own with only my thoughts for company. That’s when dealing with my situation became much harder.

That’s when all those little fears we keep hidden away come out to plague us. And believe me I had a lot of them which kept me company for hour after hour. Most of them involved not being able to use my hands to sculpt. I won’t tell you how many times I wound up crying myself to sleep, but it happened a lot. I tried to keep quiet about it (which should have been easy with my mouth wired shut), but one person found out.

I woke one morning to someone gently dabbing the sides of my eyes with handkerchief. It was Brian. Dr. Jack Tyler, my physician and our mutual friend, had allowed him in before visiting hours had officially begun. Jack had noticed the tear soaked tissues before and had tried to draw me. I would’ve have loved to have told him what was wrong, but first and foremost he was my doctor. A doctor in frequent demand so we kept getting interrupted. After a while I just stopped trying.

Luckily, Jack is someone who doesn’t give up easily, especially when you’re his patient as well as his friend. So he’d gone out of his way to get Brian here to make sure they found out what was troubling me. By this time I was able to make some sounds, but understanding me was not easy. Yet somehow we managed.

 As it turned out, both of them suspected I was worried about my works in progress back at the studio. With this in mind, Brian had gone to check on things for me. He even took photos on his phone and shared them with me.

While I was relieved to see everything was still untouched, a part of me felt guilty at the same time. Seeing my kiln just sitting there waiting to be filled, or my tools just hanging on their hooks, they it all looked so lonely. Then I saw the piece of my grandfather, still wrapped in the plastic just as I’d left it. That’s when the tears began to flow.

It took Jack and Brian some time, but they managed to understand to get the full story out of me.

The date of the exhibition, which was still going to happen, was also my mother’s birthday that she shared with her father. It would have been his 108th. I had secretly been planning to have his sculpture to be the centerpiece of the show, as well as a gift to both my mom and his memory.

Once they understood, Brian exchanged a look with Jack who nodded. Then he turned back to me and said, “Don’t worry, it’s going to be all right. Just trust me.”

In spite of the fact that I had absolutely no idea what they had planned, something about Brian’s tone was extremely reassuring.  After that, they talked about their families and kept me amused for another half an hour. By then I was feeling tired again and managed to drift off without the help of medication for a change.

The rest of the day passed as all the others had, medications, smoothie meals, and television. There were a couple of more visitors, but it’s what the night brought that I really want to talk about. Or rather, who it brought.

I’d been listening to an audiobook with my eyes closed, so I never heard my visitors arrive. It wasn’t until Brian gently tapped my shoulder that I realized anyone had come. Looking up I saw him and Jack smiling down at me. Then from behind them Nathan popped his head out and waved at me.

Unable to help myself, I shuddered.

TO BE CONTINUED…