My Short Stories

She too was Smiling

Another day… he refused to open his eyes. He knew that he was back in the real world, but he wanted to fantasize a bit longer. Why not? She was the most beautiful thing that happened to this workshop in a long time. She came with her mother and four brothers from the northern kingdom city of Xian. Her father had died while working for the emperor. He was the master sculptor responsible for the construction of emperor Qin’s, clay soldiers that would be used to guard his tomb, when he went to the next life.

The four brothers had worked at preparing the clay for their father and his team of sculptors. The emperor valued the work of the sculptor and thus had given the family leave to live in Jingdezhen, after the father’s funeral. The brothers were all older than the girl, and they all worked to keep her safe for the day she would take a husband. She was beautiful. He knew she was because he caught a glimpse of her smile when her family passed by. Just a little more time, he thought, and then I will get up.
“Where have you been Tiyong? he queried, You were supposed to be here before first light.” Tiyong didn’t answer. He knew that the master was getting soft in his old age and that he tried to sound like a lion, but he no longer had the teeth of his youth. “I have lots of work to do” Tiyong quipped. He moved quickly to his wheel. He was an indefatigable worker who liked what he did to earn his bowl of rice. He didn’t want to be distracted, but he was
He moved easily between the ware boards, climbed down into his wheel pit and grabbed his stick and spun the wheel for the first time of the day. Here, we go, he thought. He grabbed a large, heavy pug of clay. It was cold and clammy to the touch. He placed it on the wheel and centred it without effort. His hands danced from the water bowl then over the wobbling blob of clay, A few easy movements, and he was removing the first bowl. He knew it was the beginning of a long day, but he was soon working with a steady rhythm and his skill allowed his thoughts to drift to the object of his
He visualied her long, glossy black hair. He caught a glimpse of it when she crossed the courtyard. It almost touched her waist. He imagined her combing her long black silky strands, over her soft skin, as she sat on his bed. He envisioned the small flashes of skin that showed at her ankle when she stepped over the stoop. He re-entered reality to set up another ware board and added another pug of clay to the spinning wheel. His morning continued, as did his imagination.
The call to the noon meal came. This used to be the time of the day he liked the best, but now it took second place to her image. Tiyong retrieved his bowl. It fit neatly into his hand, and it had such a beautiful blue pattern on it. It wasn’t the white jade that the royal family always demanded, but it radiated a translucent glow just the same and it still sounded like music when he tapped it. He entered the kitchen, took his place in line and was just about to talk to his friend Lee, when he spotted the girl. It’s her, he thought, she is working in the kitchen, and she is serving the rice. Her eyes are twinkling; They seem to smile at me. Her mouth is so rich and full. Imagine placing those lips against mine. His mind drifted, he could hardly contain his excitement.
He was distracted for a moment when someone jostled him from behind. When he returned his gaze towards the girl he saw that her mother was pushing her towards the door. She was leaving. He wanted to scream, “Don’t leave”, but it was too late. He could only watch as the graceful woman walked away. Her mother was serving the rice. “Do you or do you not want rice?” the older woman asked. His response was a sad yes. His eyes were focused on the empty door. His bowl was filled, and he moved to the courtyard and sat in the shade of the ware boards. At least there is hot rice, he thought. Someone asked him why he did not get the chicken and vegetables. He didn’t hear them.
Back at his wheel, it turned and turned. He placed another clay pug on the revolving disk and once again and went through the actions of making his bowl shape. The heat of the day began to make the air heavy. The humidity from the clay vats, overflowing with water, began to increase with the heat of the day, filling the studio with perspiration mist. His rhythm continued “Tiyong”, the master was at his side.” He continued his hand ballet without looking up. He could see his master’s feet. He had seen those feet for many years. “Here is your new assistant.” The master quipped. This made Tiyong look up. It was the girl and was she beautiful. He smiled as he centered another pug of clay. His hands danced over the turning mass with excitement and joy, and the vessel that was formed was full of life
and beauty. He removed it to the ware board and returned his gaze to her to see that she too was smiling.