Thursday, October 05, 2006

For this month’s Blogging for Books contest:
Any time in your life when you were frightened out of your skull.

(I keep doing the Blogging for Books thing, folks, because I love a challenge, and I love books, much to my husband's chagrin. One of these days, I'll get that Amazon gift cert. Till then...)

Once again, I am going back, back, back to my college glassblowing days. Back to when I had a glassworking partner who was also a night owl and had no qualms about taking over the late-night blow slots - the ones that could be stretched from nine PM until the school building's true closing at two AM. Five hours of nothing but hot glass, y'all. I was in heaven.

Because I was wedded to glass at this time, I didn't spend much time at my room in a school-owned apartment house, one I shared with my best college friend and her first-year roomie. My best friend was majoring in sculpture, whereas I had succumbed to the challenge and allure of the glass program. She had much more time to make our college digs her own, but I simply used it as a place to sleep when I wasn't with my boyfriend or in the glass studio, and as a place to change clothes. Had to get those burnt-newspaper smelling shirts and jeans off me so that I wouldn't be a total stinker in public. I'd gotten to like the smell of burnt, wet newspaper sheets, the closest I could get to shaping glass with my hand without burning the heck out of myself.

I was learning the ways of working with this new material, while my best friend was making her way through the sculpture classes she was taking. She was slowly realizing that the department was way more artsy than she'd thought, and it had little room for someone of her seamstress abilities, with her affinity for Claes Oldenburg's soft sculpture food, and with her love of fantasy, the SCA, and Jim Henson. Still and all, she was making the best of it and working as hard as I was. Because we were both so busy, we didn't check up with each other much on our latest assignments. After IT happened, I realized I should have checked up on what she was up to.

I had another marathon five-hour blow slot and staggered uphill all the way home to my apartment room. I was pooped, smelled like the aforementioned burnt newspaper, and was ready to collapse into my bed. I walked one flight of stairs up to my place, unlocked the door, took a left into my bedroom I shared with my best friend, and got the shock of my life.

I gasped so hard, and sucked in so much air that I nearly hyperventilated. There was a killer on the loose, I could tell, and whoever it was had killed my friend. This was a sick mind at work, too; I could tell from the streetlight glow through the window beyond that my friend had been posed in her director's chair against the left wall, holding her teacup like she usually did when sitting and reading, even bending her head in the same way. Oh, my God...

Wait a minute...

I recovered and looked again, in order to calmly tell the police what I saw once I dialed 911 and they came looking for clues. I realized then that I didn't need to tell them a thing.

Because my friend was asleep in her bed. The thing that was sitting in her chair was a life size doll in perfect proportions to my friend herself. That night, she had finished it and posed it in her chair, complete with her glasses sitting on the doll's nose. I recovered slowly from the shock, and, art fool that I was and am, marveled at my friend's craft and imagination. The light of day the next morning revealed the doll to be made of a purple and black burnout floral pattern fabric. Its limbs were tied together with black ribbons, and the same ribbons made up the hair on the doll's head. Not bad for a self-portrait project. I think she did well with it grade-wise, too, though she enjoyed the challenge of making a fully poseable life-size doll much more than the whole grading process.

I sure wish the sculpture class critique group could have seen that doll the way I saw it, though. The doll had transformed our student room into a macabre noir vignette for a few seconds. Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James Ellroy could well have been slouching in the shadows that night. It was shortly after my scare that friends of mine in the glass department took me out for a late-night snack and dragged me to an H.P. Lovecraft memorial that was close by. He must have been in my room too...

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