The Vessel


(Life is moving through a Story)

 

As a child I was restless, forever on the move, and always changing.  I say, as a child. At first, I was only a twinkling in the eye of an idea. I became a formulation in her mind; then a creation, and finally a manipulation forged by my mother’s aspiration and vision. As a sculptor and potter, she did her best to form me in her image and her imagination. From the mound of her swollen appetite, I first became the subject, and then the object, of her desire. 

My silhouette at first was small and inconspicuous. Then I might become tall, slim and willowy, even voluptuous sometimes, but this would depend on her mood, her thoughts and feelings of the day. She could lift me up, pulling me tighter, stretching me higher, only to then let me fall onto that fast-spinning turntable that was my life. And my life was either spinning wildly out of control, my features almost unrecognisable, or slowly but certainly grinding to a halt. On these days my development was hindered because her hands clutched me too tightly. Then my life would be switched off and I would be put aside until she felt creative enough to use me again.

Her hands were gentle though always wet and slippery, like freshly caught fish. They might hold me for a while; caress me, gently stroking, smoothing out all my blemishes and faults, but her arms never held me. Some days she would look upon me with eyes so soft, so loving, then in the blink of her eye and the flash of her fingers, demolish me for yet another of her brave ideas.

She gave me a handle sometimes, though I was often nameless, and she could handle me quite roughly, giving me a pouting, curling lip. Many times throughout my life, she would throw me and harshly shape me into the current object of her affection or brainwave, but it wouldn’t last. She would no sooner raise me up and look upon me with that smile in her eyes than, in a heartbeat, change her mood, her mind, her heart, and decide that she could improve on me and start all over again. She was the one who could take me to the highest heights and the lowest depths.

In the early years, my Mother was always pushing me; turning me this way, pointing me that way. I never knew in which direction my life was going. But some time later I started to notice that people began to look up at me; indeed, they would look up to me, and I was treated less as an exhibit and more as her achievement. Outwardly, I looked the part, but when you saw through the sheen, the varnish, the paint, there was an emptiness which always went unnoticed.

And although I always remained where I was placed, upon that pedestal, I found I could still be criticised, ridiculed and scoffed at, though occasionally, I could see empathy and even sorrow in people’s eyes. They would look first at her, then at me, and their expression would change. Perhaps they couldn’t see our likeness, but our alikeness was all I could see; there was nothing else, nothing more. There was no me. I was simply the vessel into which she poured herself.


 

Val J Chapman


2013

 

Another story by Val Chapman: Scarlett

Two poems by Val Chapman

 

 

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