Hello you. Here is a short story sketch I wrote about a Pygmalion-like character with some twists on the original myth. I hope you enjoy it.
Giroff spread the crinkling blinds and peered down on a group of friends passing under his window. His eyes were bloodshot and the flesh around them was swollen and an ugly shade of purple. He stared at the young friends—not so young, maybe not even younger than himself—laughing as they strolled, this one putting a gentle hand on that one’s shoulder, all of them slowing their pace for one who lagged behind, then all welcoming him with playful jeers as he caught up.
A tall girl with sandy blonde hair, apparently feeling Giroff’s gaze on her, looked up to the window mid-laugh and, for a moment, both she and Giroff met eyes. The next moment she dropped her eyes and continued, somewhat distracted, past the window and out of sight with her friends.
Giroff scoffed and let the blinds pop shut.
It was nearly midday and the heat inside the little condo made Giroff sweat. He wiped his forehead impatiently. He made his way down a dark staircase then pushed open the door to his garage at the bottom. He slapped the light switch; yellow fluorescents flickered on, revealing a life-size sculpture of a woman standing on a circular base.
The woman was tall with a confident countenance, a wreath of myrtle in her hair. She stood with one foot on a skull, the other beside a small sleeping dog. With her right hand, she pointed to an exposed breast. The figure was classically draped, the words “Mors et Vita” carved into the bottom edge of her dress. The whole figure was rendered in a deep red wax, giving the skin a particularly life-like aspect. Giroff took up a handmade sculpting rake and slowly rounded his red woman, inspecting every curve and angle, and finding any imperfections, correcting them with a few flicks of his wrist. The face however, he did not touch, it was perfect, he perfected it weeks before.
When he had finished his inspection, Giroff took photos of his woman with his iPhone and sent them in an email to his contact at the city’s Public Works.
Giroff went up to his kitchen for some ramen. He scoured one of the crusty bowls balanced on a pile in his sink. He ate the noodles in silence on a faded, Palmette patterned couch, thinking about his red woman. He imagined what she might say to him if she could speak. How powerfully he might love her if only he were given the chance… Soon, Giroff dropped into sleep, the bowl of ramen tilting on his lap, his chin tucked into his shoulder, snoring loudly.
A sudden crashing noise woke Giroff hours later in the late evening. He started, spilling cold broth from onto his lap. The sound had come from the garage… He rushed down the stairs, threw open the garage door, flicked on the lights and found the red woman—missing from her base.
Giroff shivered as he looked around the room. “Hello?” he whispered.
There was a clatter beside the door. Giroff jumped back. He whirled toward the sound. There, in the corner, was a crouching woman, a terrified look on her face, covering her naked body as best she could with red cloth. It was his red woman.
When she saw it was Giroff, the woman’s face changed, she smiled, and held an open hand out for him to take.
Giroff struggled to breathe. His face drained of blood. He saw the woman frown at him with a pitiful, confused look. He stumbled back out of the garage, slammed the door, then ran upstairs and collapsed onto the couch.
Moments later, there were soft footsteps on the carpeted stairs and the red woman was standing before Giroff, trembling and holding the drapery tight around her body.
“Are you… Giroff?” the woman asked, feeling her way through the words like they were foreign to her. Her voice was husky and balmy.
“I—yes, I am.”
“I don’t notice it.”
“I see. How did I get here?”
“I—well, I made you. I sculpted you that is, as a commission for the city. They wanted a piece for the new town hall. They paid me a year’s wages for you.”
“I don’t understand. How could you sell me?”
“It’s my job. But I won’t let them have you. Not now. Not if you don’t want to go.”
“No!” Giroff nearly shouted, “You’re mine after all.”
“Yours?” The woman shifted her eyes and pulled the waxy cloth tighter around herself.
“Yes. You are exactly as I imagined, only—I never thought I would meet you. I’m very happy.”
“Is there something for me to wear?”
Giroff looked around anxiously. “Of course. Here let me get you something.” He hurried to the bedroom closet and began moving boxes off of each other. He paused over a box labeled “MOM’S CLOTHES” in permanent marker.
Minutes later, Giroff returned to the woman with an armful of clothes. The woman dressed in the bathroom and came out wearing a colorful flower blouse and a denim skirt.
“You look… very nice,” said Giroff, trying to keep his voice from cracking. “Do you have a name?”
“I am Sari.”
“I’m Giroff… But you know that.”
Giroff was anxious to please Sari. She was hungry, so Giroff made them both a bowl of ramen and a grilled cheese sandwich which she gobbled up.
“You sure can put it away can’t you?” asked Giroff.
Sari lowered her eyes and left the kitchen. “You have a nice home,” she said.
“Yes. Of course I’m sure it’s better than anything you’ve seen, right?” Giroff chuckled.
Sari did not laugh. “So, what do you have planned for me?” asked Sari flatly. “Am I to stay here with you… forever?”
Giroff crossed his arms. “Why not? You don’t like me? You know, you wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for me. I’m the best sculptor since Michelangelo, and you’re the proof. I bet none of his works ever stepped down from their pedestals and started eating up all his food.”
“You misunderstand me…”
“I’m an artist, the kind of person you should like, someone different from the masses.”
“Someone I should like?”
“That’s right. You are a curious girl, who craves fun and excitement, but also intellectual stimulation.”
“I don’t understand.”
“That’s—that’s who you are. That’s how I made you.”
“I only just woke up today. I don’t know who I am.”
Giroff laughed. “Of course not. For someone who just came to life, you seem… well, less than interested and gratified by her maker.”
Sari frowned and shook her head almost imperceptibly. “I understand,” she said. “I’m sorry I am so disappointing to you.”
Giroff scoffed and clenched his fists. He explained that she was mishearing him, that things were supposed to be different between them, that he… but he couldn’t say it all. Sari sat silently as he spoke, not looking at her creator.
When Giroff had finished his harangue, she asked if she had a place to sleep, and Giroff offered her his own bed, explaining quickly that he would sleep on the couch until they knew each other better.
“And then what?” asked Sari under a knitted brow.
“I—we will talk about that when it comes.”
Sari just nodded, then, slowly, looking back once or twice, retired to the back bedroom.
The next morning, Giroff woke to the slamming of his front door. He had slept badly, thinking only of how wrong things had gone, and trying to work out what was wrong with his creation. He rushed into the bedroom and, not finding her there, flew down the steps and pushed open the front door.
The sun was high; Giroff must have slept late. Its rays beat down on his forehead. He squinted against the oppressive heat. He did not see Sari. On the concrete steps before him, he noticed footprints, like red mud, leading away from the door and out to the street. He shut the door on the sun and let himself slide down to the floor. She had left him.
Giroff spent an hour in complete inaction, hating Sari for leaving him, cursing her for being too much like a real person, judgmental, hateful, and for no reason… Humanity was fickle and shallow. Why should Sari be any different?
Despite his anger, Giroff resolved to go after Sari. He worried about the effect of the midday sun on her waxy skin and he had spent too much time creating her to let her go so easily. He got into his champagne colored Geo Metro and sped through the condo complex in search of his red woman, tracking her red footprints down the main street.
At two o’clock, Giroff found Sari, what was left of her, at the Front Street bus stop, waiting for bus 23, the one that headed out of town.
Giroff ran to her side. Her perfect face had deformed and sagged, her skin was shining and drawn down, and all signs of life had left her. He cried for her then, for her and himself. Then he gathered her into his trunk and drove home.
That night, Giroff stood at his window, peering through the slatted blinds, watching as the sandy haired girl and her friends passed below. He thought of his dead mother, of the accident, how no one would ever love him the way she had. The girl did not look up at him this time. Then, suddenly, Giroff had a disturbing thought, a thought that broke into his head without warning: what if, for some reason, he had driven Sari away? He felt a hot tingle in his cheeks, and an uncomfortable ache in his chest. He heard a noise, like the snapping of wood from a distance. Then he put the idea out of his head for good.