A Precious Stone
“It’s past midnight, Cindy. Can’t this wait until morning?” Dull granite dust shadowed Cynthia’s gray, haggard features. “Go to bed, Mother. You’re interfering.”
“But . . .”
“Go to bed, Mother.”
“How can I sleep with you down here? Every rap of that hammer grates on my nerves.”
“I have to finish. I have to finish it for me.”
“What then? What do you think will happen, Cindy? How much power does that chisel have?”
“This is something I have to do.” Cynthia explained. “It doesn’t concern you.”
“You are my concern,” her mother said. “You’re sick. Knowing you’re down here in this damp basement . . . seeing you obsessed with this project — I care about you . . . not this . . . this outrageous thing you’re creating.”
“This thing, Mother? This thing will be my last and greatest triumph, my epitaph.”
Cynthia’s mother sighed, shivered, and hugged her arms closer to her body. She watched a trickle of ground water seep down in the corner of the stone foundation. “You haven’t eaten today. Can I bring you some hot soup?”
Cynthia’s thin face never left her work. Bony fingers clutching hammer and chisel continued to move spasmodically across drab gray granite. “No, I’m not hungry.”
“A sweater then, let me get you a sweater, it’s too cold and damp for you down here in your condition.”
Cynthia ignored her.
“Cindy,” her mother said, reaching for a thin moving arm. “My God, you’re freezing. You’re as cold as . . .”
“As what, Mother?” Cynthia asked jerking her arm from her mother’s grasp and finally turning to face her.
Cynthia’s mother stepped back. Her daughter’s face, gray and hollow-eyed, appeared carved from the very same granite that she used for her work.
“I only . . .”
“You only want to keep me alive? Well you’re too late, Mother. I died. I died an hour ago.”
“But . . . but . . .”
“Why am I still moving? Still working? Determination, Mother.
Something you taught me long ago. I made gravestones for a living. For other people. I couldn’t bear to let go until I finished. Look at it. The detail. The beauty.
“Let me go, Mother. It’s time to let me go now.”
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