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SWC15 - Bildungsroman

Arisia'15 Student Writing Contest - 3rd Place Winner


By Philip Grayson

The grass was soft beneath my feet. There was no one else outside this early. The sun had barely risen, and I was the only thing awake in the vicinity, besides the birds. The dew was cold as I padded through the green over to the fountain.

It was a rough kind of grey stone, and there was moss growing in the pools and down the sides. The fountain had come as part of the package when my parents bought the cottage. It was the owner's one wish. The old man wanted the fountain to stay. My parents surprisingly agreed, which wasn't surprising because of the statue itself, but rather because my parents barely agreed on anything. That's the trouble with the whole "opposites attract" thing. My dad was big on antique, old-fashioned, stuff that had a history to it. My mom was about modernism and minimalist elegance. Everything for her was sparse, black and white, beautiful, but Spartan. I learned to sleep through storms because thunder couldn't compare to the yelling matches my parents would have over things like the fabric of the ottoman in our living room or the color of our dining room chandelier.

Oddly, they both fell in love with the statue. It was old enough that the owner didn't even know how long ago it had been made, so my dad adored it, but it also had this quality of unadorned nobility, which my mother praised above all else. They agreed whole-heartedly on the purchase. That should have been the first sign. The Augur, it was called. Augurs were the prophets in ancient Rome who read the signs of the birds, so it was only fitting that the fountain would be a birdbath. The birds would rest in two bowls of water, held in the curved arms of the boy, overflowing into a pool below. From the books of sculpture in our enormous library, I learned that the statue was carved in the style of contrapposto, which made it look as if the boy's weight was resting in one leg; he was sitting in his hip with the other leg bent. His face was serene, almost mischievous. At his feet, there were two swans, with their necks curled around one another.

I don't really know what drew me to the fountain originally. Maybe it was that the water was just so clear. You could see into the depths. I didn't care that there were leaves and moss and dirt at the bottom. I could see into the water. It was honest. Maybe it was that, subconsciously, I felt a twinge of allegory, like the boy represented me, my soul in concrete, joy and mischief imprisoned in stone.

Maybe it was just the boy himself.

Every morning before everyone else got up, I would sit at the fountain's base, absorbing the early morning quiet, and I would draw. I would draw leaves, and grass, and bluebirds, but mostly I drew the boy. The sculpture was just so well crafted, down to the smallest details. I spent a couple hours just drawing one of his toes, trying to capture the utmost joy that lay in that one, charcoal-colored digit. It was impossible, as I soon learned. I could not do justice to the masterpiece that was the Augur.

One cool May night, I awoke. I could taste a change in the air, a difference in the oxygen levels. I was a little tired, but as that scent crept under my door and permeated my nose, I became sharply awake. It was like the smell before a great thunderstorm. I slipped out the door of the cottage, and into the yard. The moonlight was reflecting off the pool in the Augur's hands, and it illuminated his face. As I walked toward the statue, I fixed my gaze on his countenance. I was met with two bright, azure eyes. I should have been startled, but I wasn't. There was too much truth curling in the grass around us for me to be surprised.

So, in understanding I stood, as the now flesh-and-blood-and-moonlight child leapt from his place into the air, and danced. He spun, and jumped, and twirled, and then he laughed. It was a bright, yet deep laugh, deep as the core of the Earth, deep as space. He swept down, and held out his hand for me. I vacillated for a second, but I wasn't refused to stay frozen anymore. I took his hand, and we flew.

I could feel a little breaking in me as my feet left the ground, but it was a good breaking. It was a breaking of something rusty, and tired. We flew, freely. We danced on the stars, toes tapping on twinkling constellations. We spun so fast that we could do nothing but hold onto but each other. The Augur looked into my eyes with those brilliant, shocking-blue irises of his, and kissed me. Our lips met. At that moment, apotheosis occurred. Past, present, and future crashed together and wove themselves into a circle of light. For a second, I felt what it was like to be a god, to be the balance between order and chaos, to be nature in its finest. I was elevated beyond existence. I transcended myself through his lips.

Then those lips, dove-soft, were gone. Slowly, he lowered me back down onto the rustling grass, and returned to his pedestal. The Augur smiled a lonely smile, eyes watery like the sea, and then froze, stone once again.

Everything was different, though. I was different. I was myself, and yet a stranger. I had never felt more like, well, me. I took a peek in the Augur's pools, and saw two bright blue eyes peeking back.