The Eye of the Beholder

What do you see 8

‘They look so realistic! It’s bronze isn’t it?’ she steps forward reaching out to touch the arm of the nearest figure.

‘You shouldn’t touch…’

She pulls her hand back.

‘…remember in the Tate with the Henry Moore?’

‘But this is outdoors, exposed to the elements.’ She paces around the sculpture of the warrior bearing his fallen comrade in his arms. ‘The detail’s so fine!’ Unable to stop herself, she brushes her fingers across the shoulder of the upright warrior. The metal is cold and hard. She knocks against it gently with a knuckle. ‘I wonder who they are?’

‘Who they were, you mean.’

She rolls her eyes. ‘There must be a plaque or something.’ She crouches down, running her hand over the calf muscle of the warrior’s left leg. ‘What about the leaflet they gave us?’

He fishes in his pocket and hands her the crumpled guide to the castle, before strolling off towards the battlements. Sculpture’s never really been his thing and he finds the pair, posed together as they are, strangely unsettling.

The print on the leaflet is small. She walks over to a nearby bench, fumbling in her bag for her reading glasses and dropping the leaflet as she does so. As she bends to pick it up, she hears a loud yawn. She glances around, but no one’s there.

It hits her like a mallet.

The statues have moved.

She retreats, catching herself as the back of her knees make contact with the bench. She sits abruptly, never taking her eyes off the two statues.

The warrior has unburdened himself of his comrade and is stretching magnificently. His back is turned towards her and she can see every muscle and sinew rippling across his back. In one fluid movement his companion rises from the ground and stands facing her.

Living statues, like the ones they’d seen in Barcelona? But she’d just touched one and it was cold and hard.

The eyes of the statue facing her widen; his mouth drops open.

She freezes.

He puts a hand on his companion’s arm; he turns. Eyes lock on hers.

A long moment is frozen in time.

A loud whistle distracts her; she hears him calling her name. She looks up and sees him waving to her from the castle walls. When she returns her gaze to the statues; they have resumed their original pose.

She rises and approaches, raising a hesitant hand. Cold, hard and immovable; but she didn’t imagine it.

Did she?

She starts to walk away, then turns, staring at the two figures. Then she realises what’s changed.

‘You switched places!’ she accuses, raising a finger. ‘I know it!’

The statues remain impassive.

Footsteps approach from behind her. ‘You’re not talking to them are you?’ he says. He puts his arm around her. ‘You’ll be telling me you’ve had a conversation with them next,’ he laughs.

She smiles up at him and turns to leave, casting one last glance at the sculpture.

The upright warrior winks.

 


Written in response to Sadjes ‘What Do You See #8 photo prompt.

27 thoughts on “The Eye of the Beholder

  1. I’ve seen living statuary in shows… maybe semi up close… not close enough to touch!
    Not fair to slip in a ‘real’ statue in the wax museum!
    I’ve also heard of living manikins…
    I enjoyed your take!

    Liked by 1 person

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