A Flash Fiction by Matthew Bala
Image Courtesy of Al Quino, unsplash.com
Bulging my fingers into the spinning clay, I look into the rotating bottom and let my tears glisten there—the figure moves faster than my hands can shape, and I’m left with only a few touches to produce the right form.
The pad of my thumb grazes the orbiting ovoid, trimming up and at its waist into some obscene shape; surrendering a chuckle, I retreat my hands, looking at this earthly bong I’ve now made. The long snout stretches for air, its bottom rounded to the sides of the hog pan.
My palms now fondle the roundness of my creation, feeling the argil beard my cupped hands and cuticles of bending fingers. Deliberately, I close my two arms in on each other, shooting my work into a slim tower ballooned at its peak, matching its lumpy base—an upright dumbbell, with ends the size of milk jugs. Forgetting its weight, the sculpture supports its lobbed ends with a panache unfit for an inanimate object; still, the two comically large butts ride in tandem with each other, too stubborn to fall.
Reaching out to graze my anomaly, I hold my fingernail close, and a thin line stencils into its thinly wrought sides—I drive my nail further. The neck swallows up the tip of my index finger, collapsing the top in on itself, drooping its body on a spherical foot. I return to my stool, to process my failure—I feel defeated.
In one ready motion, I jab a bony fist forward to launch the clay off the station, rattling the epoxy head and screws with it. Just as it had done my finger, the edges of my knuckle fold the creation over my flesh, slapping up my forearm.
It wraps around my limb, as though it had produced its own appendage, pleading with me to not abandon it. Looking at my crafted life, I observe how it clings to the wheel heads, desperate to maintain some form. With one more decisive motion, I pile down two quick swings of my closed fist and halt the machine’s hum; the wheel heads jump out of place, thinning the clay into separating pieces; my pedal keeps my foot there, adamant that I stay; the creation splays into a flower not meant to open, natural and tortured.
Matthew Bala loves writing about the unconventional and absurd. His work is soon to be published in Corporeal as he is still working on his Wild West fiction manuscript. In his free time, he enjoys listening to Paganini’s caprices as he pumps some iron.