by Tom O’Brien

In the minutes between waking and the alarm going off, Frank rolled from his side and lay on his back. He laced his fingers across his chest in the darkness. Behind his closed eyes he built glowing statues on top of public buildings in the main square of his city.

He saw them at dusk. The outline of the buildings beneath them was stark and black against the fading light but they shone gently because the material he used was translucent, a flexible fine mesh, lit from the inside.

The statues spoke of potential energy, possibility, positivity, of hope. One was a horse about to leap from the roof of Civil Service House, another a bull set to charge from the Revenue Building, the third a swan ready to soar from City Hall,

Frank had worked out every detail of how to build them. He had calculated the weights and supports needed, what weather proofing and power supply, as well as the more artistic considerations of form and posture of the animals.

Previously, both as a dry run and for its own sake, he had worked in abstract forms. This helped him to perfect the mechanics of the materials and their placement. It was during this dry run that he had mastered the lighting inside the pieces. It appeared to be evenly spread when in fact it subtly highlighted one face of the piece over another. That had pleased him especially.

The alarm buzzed.

Frank will never build these statues, no more than he had built their abstract precursors. He is no sculptor or architect or whoever it is that does such things. Frank works as a doorman at a prestigious hotel on the same square as Civil Service House, the Revenue Building and City Hall.

The art he makes every morning, that he has worked on for years just before the alarm, stays in his head. Stays under his peaked cap, he likes to think.

Sometimes when he tips his hat to a guest, lifting the shiny black peak clear of his forehead just enough to let the air in, he is tempted to set one of the creations free so that it could leap to a roof and settle there. That is as close as Frank’s statues ever come to being seen by anyone else.

Which is a shame as they are beautiful. Wild and delicate, eerie and strangely comforting. They are quietly calm in the day, glow in evening light, then seem to come alive in the darkness of night, on top of those important buildings, opposite the prestigious hotel.

If Frank could give himself permission to build those glowing white statues, like soft stone or hard cloud above the grey city, he would make a lot of people happy. Not the kind of permission from City Hall but from society, from his status, his confidence, his fears. The kind of permission granted by his gift

As it is, these statues that only he can see, sometimes catch him by surprise. As he holds a door open for a guest or reflected in the windscreen of a cab he’s hailed for another to leave in. These moments bring him the greatest joy, and that at least is something.

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Tom O’Brien
Tom O’Brien is an Irishman living in London. He’s been published, longlisted, shortlisted and placed in numerous competitions and publications around the web. He has a short story appearing in a forthcoming print anthology published by Blood & Bourbon.  Twitter: @tomwrote

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