it was just typed from a dirty notebook, bound to have some errors
Trudge. Drag. Heave. Grunt. Down the slope to where the good stuff was. The fact that this spot was a secret made it all the more difficult, as there was not the usual parade of feet to keep the path worn and accessible. "Better kept like this," muttered Bron to himself. He knew the best clay in the county could be found down in this small valley. With it he planned to carve the most perfect statue ever seen by mortal eyes. The valley was so small, barely noticeable. At the crest a creek emerged from beneath a tree. Feeding it. It was quite large comparatively to its brethren in the forest. Bron had found this spot as a small boy, thought the tree to be magical due to its great girth, figured the creek to be the source of its power. Each day he would wander into the woods in search of his tree. Oddly enough, the harder he looked, the more elusive the valley became. Often he would simply give up search, only to haphazardly wander into the valley. It was liquid. It moved with the wind and the seasons, a place not of geography, but of mindset.
It took him nearly 30 years to realize this. Now, in his ripe age of 47, he could get to the valley quite quickly. In his teens he was force to apprentice for a local potter. No time for the refreshing water of the valley, no time for naps beneath the great tree. Fire now. Days he would spend manning the kilns and the billows. Always sweating, always thirst. Once in a while, tired to the point of delusion, he would wander into the woods and search again for his own piece of forest. In these fatigued stupors he found that he would find the valley almost instantly, though the walk home always begged to differ. His aching boned would never question distance or time, they only sought refuge beneath the tree. And he would drink from the spring, endlessly refreshed by its waters. And he would sleep beneath the tree, for what seemed liked lifetimes. And always to awake and return back to the fires.
That changed many years ago, when the master had died and Bron became the potter of the village. he had three boys that ran most of the business for him, leaving him time to pursue less rigorous activities. Being so acquainted with clay mean the movement into full blow sculpture was easy and seamless. He began carving and molding works of delicate and ornate beauty. He retired from the shop early on, not having been very involved for some years now. His works adorned the homes of all the rich and important of the village. Several times he had been celebrated; numerous awards laid scattered in in his home. Never did he pay them much attention. His only interest was his work. Fueled by the spring's water and his own discontent he went on for years producing work at an inhumanly prolific pace.
None of them brought him any solace. None of them he really cared for. There was one instance where he destroyed a piece he had been working on for weeks upon over an argument with his neighbor over the definition of beauty and whether or not it was worthwhile. "What peace have these pots and stones brought me?" bellowed Bron. "The whole village has recognized your artistry," his old neighbor replied timidly. "Your works are in every home and every store throughout the village!" "Look at how much happiness you've brought through your art." Bron crumpled his face to a scowl, "Never brought me any." "Thats because you're jaded to the core, having spent your life amongst smoke and fire." The old woman had found her voice, "You're not happy because those charred calloused hands cannot feel!" Bron ripped the statue up from its pedestal, only half-polished, and hurled it at a tree. It was of an old woman, lamenting and beckoning to god. Bron imagined that she had lost something, a child or a lover perhaps. In fact, most of Bron's art displayed some sort of anguish; defeated warriors, crying children, women praying, and so forth. The village's center featured a solemn soldier with a broken sword. "The Futility of War" it was hailed. "My inability to defeat my demons," though Bron.
He thought of the argument as he tromped through the forest. The woman's words began to burn, his heart felt heavy. He wondered if he truely was unable to feel any sort of happiness. Thats what this piece was going to change...
He had decreed himself to craft an image of man so lifelike and so beautiful, that it would bring grown men to tears, women to silent hysteria, make people think that there was no more reason to search. All the wonderful things, of the world would be seen in the eyes of this statue. Rarely did he take the clay of his beloved valley. He thought of it as ripping back the skin of a loved one, tearing out sinew and muscle. It pained him each time he did, so much so that he would often weep as he dug up the creek bed - scattering the water and stranding it in strange puddles. To see this water muddied bothered him so profusely that he would feel physically ill. The lamenting women had been of the valley clay.
The first plunge of the shovel was always the hardest. He closed his eyes and let gravity do the deed. Down beneath green grass, below moisten mud, rested clay so fine that it seemed unworldy. Straight from the earth it was poreless and smooth. Bron knew that once fired it would take on the sheen and surface more similar to glass. Kaleidoscope dreams rested in the reflection, hues only seen in dreams. This was more than he had ever taken before. Anger dug deeper, until a trench sat before him, slowly filling from runoff and wayward drops. His wheelbarrow winced and whined as it was filled much beyond its limits. The wheelbarrow didn't so much roll now, as the wooden axels barely turned from such great tension bearing downward. Bron may have been very well dragging a tree - would have been just as effective. Didn't stop him though. Sounded like a stampede. Felt like one too. Bron breathed and shoved. Foot by Foot. The walk was taking longer than usual. He felt as if the valley had run deep into the woods. Punished him for taking so much. He had to make camp for the night; he simply couldn't drag any further.
No sleep came, but rather a parade of nightmares, each announcing a louder follower. He dreamed of bright lights blinding him and of being burned alive. He lost his mind once or twice, the latter being an issue of property rather than sanity. He watched the world melt away and return as puddles of rain. Always though, thirsty and unable to breathe. He tossed and turned, longed for his valley, but couldn't fathom returning - not after coming all this way. He awoke all the forest with a scream like a child in need of it's mother. A cold sweat drenched his clothes, and he felt more exhausted than the night before. He rose, a moving groan, reverberating a low hum as he moved. Between the moans of the cart and the harmonic breathing lurked a monster of grief slowly sulking through the forest.
In the village this low slothy hum was heard and mothers began to call children in. Doors shut and windows locked. What a surprise when just Bron emerged from the woods, ragged in his stature and resembling defeat. He collapsed at the sight of civilization and began to weep. The weeps turned to sobs, and the sobs to screams. His neighbors simply circled and asked "Are you okay?". More timid voices muttered around him and he struggled to hear them but his ears were full of worry. He couldn't hear over crying feet, his mind spun faster and faster and faster then stopped. Too abrupt... he had fallen off...
He awoke some undecided amount of days later in his own bed, confused as could be. The old lady neighbor was singing in the other room. The first though he recalled sent him into near frenzy. He ran to the kitchen, his voice fell like sleet: small, wet, and cold. "Where is my clay?!" panic screamed from his chest. "I must tend to it before it drys!" The woman, now unphased by his outbursts replied with disinterest. Apparently it was the village's idea for her to tend to the new village crazy. " Your boys have it at the shop." " Now get out of here, you need fresh air." Bron was gone before she turned to acknowledge him, running now through the streets in his pajamas. There was a rumor circulating that Bron had lost it, after crowds witnessed him fall into hysteria dragging a cart containing a mudball the size of a small house. This little village marathon he was running didn't help dispel that rumor.
Bron did not in fact remember where his old workshop was, he was simply running like he was going to the valley - he expected to just stumble upon it. Midmorning rolled around and the town priest finally stopped him, "Bron, what is it that you are looking for?" The priest was genuinely concerned for Bron had turned the local chapel into the envy of all holy houses in the land. "A Man of Stone!" he cried, "or at least soon he will be stoned if I do not find him." About this point one of Bron's old assistants, Arthur, walked by. "It's okay father, I'll take him." As they walked away the priest was muttering a fine mesh of holy words and utterances of fear. Back at the workshop Bron had calmed slightly at the sight of his clay. It was only for a breathe though before a newer and more intense hysteria had seized him once more.
Chisel in hand, Bron began to map the surface of his soon-to-be creation like a skilled cartographer would a gentle river bed. His eyes were glazed and his mouth muted. Lost somewhere in a dream he began to mold, cut, and carve. The clay was an odd consistency, too soft to cut but too tough for touch. "WATER!" he bellowed, uncaring of what ears would catch his demands. his assistants fumbled into the room each with a bucket under both arms. Like a fevered relative Bron sponged the forehead with intense care. The water beaded off as if the statue was glass. Bron began to panic. His statue was more a deformed beast than any sort of man, and no tools could seem to scar the surface without permanently destroying it. Bron could not understand why. He stood in dismay and watched as his great work turned to dust. His eyes glazed again, and he suddenly bolted from the room.
"Back to the valley" he thought. The valley's water is the key. It was night now, and Bron, still in his pajamas, was dashing furiously through the forest. He would trip, fall, bleed, but back again to his feet. Delerium was nipping just at his heels. His eyes, blinded by the sweat and the night, did not see the sudden drop advancing quickly upon him. He didn't so much fall, but rather flew into the valley - the landing, not so gracious. He awoke again to a blinding sun, drenched to the bone. It was as if his skin did not exist. His organs were flooded and his mind dampened slightly. He knew in this moment of amphibious clarity what needed to be done. Back to town he flew on feet fueled by psychotic determination.
It was gone; he was gone. Not having eaten in several days had taken its toll. Sunday morning and the town was on its way to mass. Then there was Bron, running frantically in his soiled nightgown, cap still flailing in the breeze. In an oddly respectful fashion, the rest of the town simply ignored him, some out of pity, but mostly from fear. He kicked the door open to the workshop, practically knocking it off the hinge, then scooped up the half-ton statue and slung it over his shoulder. (There are multiple witnesses to this scene, what would later be regarded as mass confusion caused by food poisoning. This is the official report as to why a 195lb man was able to sprint with a 1000lb statue. Bron is never actually mentioned in said Report, but seeing as how he nor the statue were ever found, it is somewhat difficult to prove otherwise.)
Bron, however, unconcerned with official reports, and gravity for that matter, was now crashing through the woods as if some sort of elephant. Crash on and on. Crashed right over that same ledge and crashed right into the valley. With a great splash both Bron and the statue plummeted into the creek bed. Unaware of being in the creek, Bron felt a cool breeze of relief wash over him. He apologized to the valley for ever taking away a piece of it, realizing this is where the mud belonged. His statue would have to stand here, and that fact brought him solace.
For three days he molded. The tips of his fingers became as wands, altering the surface with an almost magical ability. On the third day it seemed that he was no longer even touching his creation, it carved simply by his whim; he the magician - or perhaps the lunatic. one thing was for sure: the statue was the more lifelike and strikingly beautiful thing he had ever seen. On the fourth day he simply stared into the eyes for hours on end, waiting for it to blink.
Something inside Bron's brain went click. He found himself no longer gazing upon the statue, but rather staring himself in the eyes. They blinked.
He fell to the ground, striking a rock with soft skull parts. Lights turned off as blood flowed out.