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In the muted light of his workshop, Piero stuck out his tongue and considered the figure in front of him. He tasted dust on his lips, drew it into his mouth, felt the sandiness of it scuffing against his teeth. With the most loving of touches, he smoothed a rough patch here, reshaped a bit there, added a little more detail with a small metal tool. At last, the final curl had taken shape. He sat back on his heels, sweating, filthy, starving almost to the point of emaciation, to marvel at his newest creation.
In the early days, it had seemed like this project would go on forever. Given his advanced age, Piero had often wondered if he would live to see its end. But now it was done, and he couldn’t stop staring. Though he’d always been a humble man, he couldn’t help but declare to his indifferent cat that this which he had made with his own gnarled hands was a masterpiece.
Each curve was shaped to perfection. Every crease, dip, fold and dimple, every hair, nail, and pore meticulously rendered. Why, if it hadn’t been for the colour, or rather the lack thereof, he could well have believed that she was real. After all, he’d seen her lying exactly like this many a time. So often, in fact, he’d been able to recreate her from memory. Everything that was her was there.
High cheekbones, wide nose, pointed jaw. Breasts that spread and flattened when she lounged on her back like this, the nipple on the left round and usually soft, the one on the left elliptical and forever pert. The streaks on her belly, the long scar above her pubic mound, the soft, fleshy lips that covered her most secret of places. A secret she’d only ever shared with Piero.
Yes, to his eye it was her, but one thing about her irked him, and he suspected it always would. The only thing he’d been unable to replicate was her eyes. Oh, the shape was correct, the depth of the creases and the height of the brows. But where there should be two mesmerising orbs of violet there was only white. Blankness, nothingness, emptiness.
A chisel scudded across the floor, sending the cat up the table leg, onto the window ledge and out into the frosty night. Piero pulled his hands down his face, yanked at his own hair, screamed at the inert body in the middle of the room. So much like her but not her at all.
Piero turned on his heel, kicking up clouds of dust. He needed to leave, to get away from that which wasn’t what it should have been. Two steps. All he managed was two steps in the direction of the door before his foot sank into a pile of stone.
Crying out in pain and anger, he twisted. Threw out his arms to save himself as he fell. But his body didn’t reach the floor. Instead, his knees hit one of the hips he’d painstakingly chipped into being. His hand clamped an unyielding breast, the hard nipple pressed into his palm.
Everything in the room was still and silent. But inside of Piero, an inferno raged. Blinking fast, he tried to batter away the images that assaulted his mind. He saw himself in this exact position. Remembered it. Remembered having her breast in his hand, remembered climbing onto her, lowering his head, taking that misshapen nipple between his teeth and biting until she writhed beneath him.
Piero’s cock had been awake then. It was awake now, pushing against his loose robe, twitching against a stone-cold thigh. Temper drew his arm back, brought it swinging towards that immoveable chest. His hand struck one breast, then the other, but neither moved or swayed. All he got was a stinging palm and a jarred shoulder.
She wasn’t real. It wasn’t real, and he hated it for that. Hated it so much he pulled off his robe, clambered on top of it and straddled its thighs. A trail of fluid streaked over her thigh. Piero’s fevered gaze followed it to its source, the beauty of the web-fine thread linking this lifeless body to the tip of his cock enough to make him weep.
But he didn’t weep. With no regard to the dirt on his hands, he palmed his cock. Drew it down to the immaculately shaped labia, stroked it back and forth, up and down. She had liked it when he did this, but she wouldn’t like it now. Even though he knew he couldn’t, he tried to jab his cock between those folds, sought a way into her, but the way didn’t exist.
Another cry, this time in anguish. His scuffed knees left bloody stains on her hips, her waist, her arms. More silvery trails crisscrossed her breasts, his ass cheeks pressed against them, he wriggled until he felt that single pointed nipple probing his hole. Taking her rigid jaw in his hand, he glared, swore, tugged on his cock with a fury that a part of him knew would leave him sore for days.
Then, with a bellow that could have woken the dead, Piero reared up. The tip of his cock rested against what should have been soft, plump lips, and he allowed his sorrow to pour from his body in delicious, desperate, dreadful spurts.
Piero’s heart turned to ice in his chest, each beat pumping chilled blood through his veins. What had he done? He had loved her, worshipped her, created this idol for her, and yet he had done the one thing she would never allow him to do in life. He had defiled her, covered her precious smile in the vile produce of his body. Always unworthy, unworthy still.
Shards of stone cut into his feet as he crossed the workshop. The mallet weighed heavier on his heart than it did in his hand. With one last look at the perfection he had ruined, he arced the metal head through the air and winced at the sound of impact. Again, he hit her. And again, and again, fissures crept over her flawless skin, her hand broke away, as did her foot.
Piero all but destroyed the thing it had taken him so long to create. The only thing he left intact was her face. Her semen stained, cherubic face. Dropping the mallet on the floor, he made for the pallet in the corner and wept until sleep claimed him.
Nightmares. He’d never suffered from them before, but now he was in the middle of one so intense it pulled him from sleep with a startled cry. The candles had long burnt out in the room, leaving it cold and altogether dark.
Despite the thundering pulse that filled his ears, Piero heard a sound. He worked hard to slow his heart, took even, measured breaths to calm his lungs. The cat must have spied a mouse. Rubble tinkled over the floor. Larger pieces of stone clattered together. Piero was glad that his sight had been blinded to the carnage he’d committed while in the grip of despair. He couldn’t have borne it if he could see.
Damned cat! It was making so much noise in the detritus on the floor it reminded Piero of an earth tremor. He thought of the way the ground beneath his feet had trembled when he first brought that exquisite piece of stone into the workshop.
Piero held his breath then laughed. It was a nervous laugh, and he picked at a fresh scab on his knee while he did it, but he let his throat rattle with it. The nightmare must have disturbed him more than he realised, he was still hearing her voice.
His laugh became abrupt silence. Piero scanned the darkness with wild eyes, searching for whoever it was that had decided to play a game. Affecting an air of nonchalance, he shuffled to the edge of the pallet. It took him three attempts to light the candle, and three minutes to find the courage to look out into the room.
“How…” he gasped.
Piss warmed the straw mattress beneath him. Colour drained from his face, he looked gaunt, decrepit, terrified. Pain blossomed behind his breastbone, his own nails broke the skin of his face as he tried to hide from her. But he couldn’t hide. She wouldn’t let him. One nod of her head and he found himself collapsing back onto the pallet. He was immobile, as she had been, naked and on display, as she had been.
Using the hand that hadn’t been smashed from her body, she brushed her fingers over her lips. Flakes of dried semen drifted to her breasts and Piero winced. She clicked her tongue, shook her head, and slowly moved closer.
“Never in life,” she said quietly. “Never in death. Never in memory of me. That was your promise the night I opened my past up to you, Piero. And yet…” She brushed her face once more, disgusted by the flakes on her fingertips.
“I’m sorry,” Piero sobbed. He knew he shouldn’t have done it, he knew she would have hated it, but his anger at her for leaving him had driven him on regardless.
Everything in the room had faded away until there was nothing but her and Piero. All he had to look at was her. At the pieces of stone crumbling away from her belly. At the broken labia, the missing kneecap. Fractures became cracks became breaks. As she approached him, she was coming apart. So was Piero, but not in places the eye could see.
“You always believed in an eye for an eye,” she said. “You defiled me, and I will have retribution. I’ve come for my pound of flesh.”
Piero watched in horror as her leg rose above the pallet. His ribs cracked under her weight. He pressed his lips into a thin line, tried to turn his head, but he couldn’t stop her pressing her cunt against his face. The jagged stone cut into his cheeks, tore at his mouth. She rubbed and swayed, reached back to rest her hands on his thighs. He screamed into the carved thatch of pubic hair as his bones shattered.
She panted, moaned, gave him more of her weight until his cheekbones and jaw started to crack. Piero couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see, couldn’t even cry for help. All he could do was gargle in the back of his throat as those broken labia parted and he felt her opening start to spasm.
On and on it went. Piero couldn’t feel anything anymore. Piero wasn’t anything anymore. Just as she had vowed all those years ago when she’d relayed her harrowing past to him on this very pallet, she had punished him for disrespecting her, for daring to put his cock near her mouth. Do it and I’ll kill you, she’d said. And she had.