Welcome to the Attic!

Card Challenge: Day 18

So, I wrote today’s piece, and it was 200 words too long. As it was my goal to keep everything 1000-1200 words long, I have edited it down to that length. However, I really like the slightly longer version. I think I can honestly say I met the challenge by going through and doing the editing (and still having a coherent, enjoyable story), but I think the craftsmanship of the longer version is better. So, ultimately, I have decided to post the longer version here. I will post the shorter version behind a cut (if I can make that work) in case anyone is really interested how I cut it down. And, if you want to read both, feel free to give me suggestions on what you thoughts of the editing choices. Would you remove something else? Do you think it is stronger with 200 more words? Hate em both? Feel free to share. Happy reading!


Long Version

Card Day 18: A statue slowly morphing into a living man (or perhaps, vice versa).

Tommy loved the park. He had spent more afternoons there than his young mind could fully comprehend, and yet his love for the place only grew. When he was still little, he had spent the time on the gleaming playground beneath the watchful eyes of his mother. His favorite had been the sandbox for years, graduating to the money bars and jungle gym as he grew in strength and steadiness. His mother, for her part, abandoned the constant vigilance in favor of a book, or coffee with one of the other mothers. She was still close by, alert to the slightest sound of a problem, but Tommy felt invincible and independent, taking the woodchip domain as his kingdom.

Of course, time continued to precede on, and eventually his mom would wait in the car. Tommy had strict order to remain in the open area of the playground, and he only wandered on occasion into the dense trees surrounding him. Now, however, Tommy was eleven years old. And, at eleven, he was allowed to stop by the park on his walk home from school, as long as he promised to be home before the sun set.

So, he wandered through the park, ducking along the wooded concrete paths as his stomach growled. The one downside to his new freedom was the lack of a waiting afternoon snack. It was, he supposed, the price of independence in this harsh world. Nevertheless, he was determined to enjoy his time playing in the expansive grounds.

Tommy loved the park, but he felt his skin begin to crawl as he neared the edge of the woods. Ahead waited another clearing, devoid of any brightly painted slides, bars, or equipment. It housed a few park benches, their paint chipping and wood sagging, and a single statue. On the surface, there was nothing wrong with the statue. It was a man standing proudly atop the base, his eyes cast towards the sky. Logically, it was a fine statue, even inspiring in some ways. Keep your chin up, it seemed to say. But there was something Tommy simply did not like about it.

Part of it was the way the man’s hands were gripped so tight against his sides, the skin puckering where he fingers met the soft palm. Or maybe it was the slight strain of his neck, as if trying to stretch himself up into the clouds. Most likely, Tommy thought, it was the eyes. While they were pointed towards the sky, he could see just enough to feel as if there were some terror frozen in them, some unspoken warning or fear that he simply could not interpret. Tommy hated the statue, but the path wound by it on the way to the corner he and his friends had erected a lean-to fort in the unkempt woods.

He walked out from under the trees, guarding his eyes against the sudden bright sunlight, and froze. The pedestal that had so long held the man was empty, leaving an awkward expanse of open air. The benches still sat, faded and tired, watching the pedestal, but the object of their attention had disappeared. Tommy hoped that others had felt the same discomfort from it and had petitioned it to be removed.

Ever curious, he approached the stone block, looking at it as if it were some alien archeology first discovered. He felt it was weird to leave the stand and remove the statue, but perhaps there were plans for it. He supposed the city would probably want to replace it, probably with the strange, twisted structures that had been popping up in the other town centers. Tommy knew enough from his parents to scoff at the “art” pieces, but in some ways he found their bright colors and unusual shapes fun. It was art he felt he could understand, not the drab paintings in the galleries his mother drug him to on rainy weekends.

The missing statue was a relief, lightening a burden that had weighed on him with every trek down the path. He smiled, enjoying the small clearing with its bright sunshine and overhanging trees. The wind whispered through the limbs, casting dappled shadows along his face. He looked up at the bright blue sky, and something caught his eye. As the tree limbs bobbed in the wind, he recognized the shape as an apple, hanging full and delicious on one of the limbs.

The skin was a bright, vibrant red, staring boldly from the thick, leafy green boughs. It looked perfect and plump sitting up there, swaying temptingly by its slender stem. Tommy’s stomach growled appreciatively, and he eyed the apple carefully. Now, he knew it could be dangerous to eat things found in the woods, but this was clearly an apple growing from a tree. Apples, of course, usually grew from trees. He did not remember seeing this particular apple tree before, but he supposed it was possible not the time of year apples were normally around. This was maybe just an early apple. It certainly looked fresh and ripe.

Besides, he resolved, if he were truly to be independent, he could not rely on his mom for an afternoon snack. He could fend for himself, and decided that this apple tree would become his personal snack bar after school. Tommy looked at the old benches, but felt certain they would fall through even under his slight weight. They were also too far back, tucked beneath the swaying branch. He would have to reach out a long way to get to it, if the bench would even get him high enough.

Tommy glanced around, trying to solve his conundrum. The tree might have once been a good climbing tree, but the city park department had taken care to remove all the low hanging branches. Fortunately, Tommy smiled, the statue was gone and had left a perfect ladder.

He clambered atop the structure, feeling the chill of the stone snake through his hand. It was unnaturally cold, he felt, unwarmed by the otherwise brilliant rays of the sun. This, however, was an unnoticed awareness, focused as he was on his gleaming red prize. He felt tall and imposing atop the pedestal, and stood up quickly. The apple was just a few inches above his head, hanging in the expanse between tree and stone base. He glanced down to judge the distance between his feet and the edge of the stone, and his smile wavered. He had, unknowingly it seemed, stepped into the fresh concrete. It had not felt damp to his hands, but now he could see the pale gray splotches along the edges and tops of his shoes. His mother would not be happy, and surely the parks would not like to see their statue ruined. If the apple had not been so near his grasp, he would have leapt down and fled the scene of his crime. Instead, he reached out as far as he could.

The apple dangled just beyond his reach, far enough that his fingers could barely brush the skin. It swayed and bobbed at his touch, twisting on its weakening stem. Tommy continued to reach, straining diligently, his tongue notched firmly across his upper lip. It was almost there.

He batted at it again with his hand, hoping to finally attain his prize. The apple swayed once more before the stem gave a soft snap. He watched the brilliant red orb plummet to the ground and land softly in the springy grass.

It was then that Tommy realized something was terribly wrong. He tried to leap down, but felt his legs were locked in place. He glanced down to see that the concrete splatters had moved up from his shoes, now encasing his legs up to the thigh. As he watched, his jeans continued to fade to stony gray, locking him atop the stone platform.

Tommy flailed his arms toward the trees, desperately reaching for one of the branches in order to pull himself free. The limbs danced just outside his grasp, waving and taunting at him as his panic grew. Before he knew it, the stone was up to his chest, his skin taking on the cold, pale texture of polished marble. He reached and strained, his arms reaching heavenward even as the stone inched up around his neck and arms.

Tommy had always loved the park, even if the statue had given him a distant feeling of unease. As his eyes roved slightly, trying to find some escape before the stone finally locked them in place, he could not help but regret the new statue that had taken its place.


Creative Commons License

This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Short Version

Card Day 18: A statue slowly morphing into a living man (or perhaps, vice versa).

Tommy loved the park. He had spent more afternoons there than his young mind could fully comprehend, and yet his love for the place only grew. When he was still little, he had spent the time on the gleaming playground beneath the watchful eyes of his mother. Now, however, Tommy was eleven years old. And, at eleven, he was allowed to stop by the park on his walk home from school, as long as he promised to be home before the sun set.

So, he wandered through the park, ducking along the paths as his stomach growled. The one downside to his new freedom was the lack of a waiting afternoon snack. It was, he supposed, the price of independence in this harsh world. Nevertheless, he was determined to enjoy his time playing in the expansive grounds.

Tommy loved the park, but he felt his skin begin to crawl as he neared the edge of the woods. Ahead waited another clearing, devoid of any brightly painted slides or equipment. It housed a few park benches, their paint chipping and wood sagging, and a single statue. On the surface, there was nothing wrong with the statue. It was a man standing proudly atop the base, his eyes cast towards the sky. It was even inspiring in some ways. Keep your chin up, it seemed to say. But there was something Tommy simply did not like about it.

Part of it was the way the man’s hands were gripped so tight against his sides, the skin puckering where he fingers met the soft palm. Or maybe it was the slight strain of his neck, as if trying to stretch himself up into the clouds. Most likely, Tommy thought, it was the eyes. While they were pointed towards the sky, he could see just enough to feel as if there were some terror frozen in them, some unspoken warning or fear that he simply could not interpret. Tommy hated the statue, but the path wound by it.

He walked out from under the trees, guarding his eyes against the sudden bright sunlight, and froze. The pedestal that had so long held the man was empty, leaving an awkward expanse of open air. The benches still sat, faded and tired, watching the pedestal, but the object of their attention had disappeared. Tommy hoped that others had felt the same discomfort from it and had petitioned it to be removed.

Ever curious, he approached the stone block, looking at it as if it were some alien archeology first discovered. He felt it was weird to leave the stand and remove the statue, but perhaps there were plans for it. He supposed the city would probably want to replace it, hopefully with something friendlier. The missing statue was a relief, lightening a burden that had weighed on him with every trek down the path. He smiled, enjoying the small clearing with its bright sunshine and overhanging trees. The wind whispered through the limbs, casting dappled shadows along his face. He looked up at the bright blue sky, and something caught his eye. As the tree limbs bobbed in the wind, he recognized the shape as an apple, hanging full and delicious on one of the limbs.

The skin was a bright, vibrant red, staring boldly from the thick, leafy green boughs. It looked perfect and plump sitting up there, swaying temptingly by its slender stem. Tommy’s stomach growled appreciatively, and he eyed the apple carefully. Now, he knew it could be dangerous to eat things found in the woods, but this was clearly an apple growing from a tree. Apples, of course, usually grew from trees. He did not remember seeing this particular apple tree before, but he supposed it was possible not the time of year apples were normally around. This was maybe just an early apple. It certainly looked fresh and ripe.

Besides, he resolved, if he were truly to be independent, he could not rely on his mom for an afternoon snack. He could fend for himself. Tommy looked at the old benches, but dounted their structural integrity. They were also too far back, tucked beneath the swaying branch. He would have to reach out a long way to get to it, if the bench would even get him high enough.

Tommy glanced around, trying to solve his conundrum. The tree might have once been a good climbing tree, but the city park department had taken care to remove all the low hanging branches. Fortunately, Tommy smiled, the statue was gone and had left a perfect ladder.

He clambered atop the structure, feeling the chill of the stone snake through his hand. It was unnaturally cold, he felt, unwarmed by the otherwise brilliant rays of the sun. This, however, was an unnoticed awareness, focused as he was on his gleaming red prize. He felt tall and imposing atop the pedestal, and stood up quickly. The apple was just a few inches above his head, hanging in the expanse between tree and stone base. He glanced down to judge the distance between his feet and the edge of the stone, and his smile wavered. He had, unknowingly it seemed, stepped into the fresh concrete. It had not felt damp to his hands, but now he could see the pale gray splotches along the edges and tops of his shoes. His mother would not be happy, and surely the parks would not like to see their statue ruined. If the apple had not been so near his grasp, he would have leapt down and fled the scene of his crime. Instead, he reached out as far as he could.

The apple dangled just beyond his reach, far enough that his fingers could barely brush the skin. It swayed and bobbed at his touch, twisting on its weakening stem. Tommy continued to reach, straining diligently. It was almost there.

He batted at it again with his hand, hoping to finally attain his prize. The apple swayed once more before the stem gave a soft snap.

It was then that Tommy realized something was terribly wrong. He tried to leap down, but felt his legs were locked in place. He glanced down to see that the concrete splatters had moved up from his shoes, now encasing his legs up to the thigh. As he watched, his jeans continued to fade to stony gray, locking him atop the stone platform.

Tommy flailed his arms toward the trees, desperately reaching for one of the branches in order to pull himself free. The limbs danced just outside his grasp, waving and taunting at him as his panic grew. Before he knew it, the stone was up to his chest, his skin taking on the cold, pale texture of polished marble. He reached and strained, his arms reaching heavenward even as the stone inched up around his neck and arms.

Tommy had always loved the park, even if the statue had given him a distant feeling of unease. As his eyes roved slightly, trying to find some escape before the stone finally locked them in place, he could not help but regret the new statue that had taken its place.

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