We met at work in Alaska, taking a break between rushes to suck down some nicotine. That she was an artist surprised me, that she said nothing more, didn't. This was Alaska, after all, and the last frontier made for fresh starts. But I digress, we did complain about work and the hours we had to pull. I said so it goes and she fell silent on that note.
Oh, I'm sounding like a fool, but the statement perfectly encapsulates that time, that beautiful belief we both had in our art. Of course, her skills were more marketable. I wrote. She created animation. That creation was something else and I dare say she wrote better than me in many ways.
We watched her creation that night, a five minute short where two men challenge each other, all slap with glove, then sit down to a game of chess. As they play, the chess pieces take a life of their own when pieces are traded, each color of pieces piercing the air with wails of lamentations-old and imploring their masters (players) to get revenge.
White's pawn stabs black's pawn, mutilates the body. All of white's pieces cheer. White's player grins, happy to see black go down. But soon a tit-for-tat melee breaks out on the board.
The two players cheer on the pieces, but as blood starts to blot their shirts, and onlookers gasp, they exchange glances—the players—of worry. When one reaches in to stop his side, a bloody finger is all he receives. His opponent does the same thing, suffers the same consequences.
Suddenly, silence breaks out. They look down and realize that all the pieces are staring at them, angry. The scene ends with the pieces tying up the players and walking off, hand in hand. Obvious work, this, but the imagery was gorgeous and we drank to her creation. Hours later, I was consumed with jealousy. The film was a derivative of something I'd shown her—and she had thanked me for that—but had somehow managed to be better than anything I had ever created.
That fact alone was too much for me and I left. Off to find a muse, I said, and though that was true, it was more a matter of that jealousy dousing my muse. We didn't talk at work after that. It was only when she was fired for trying to unionize that I was glad that I didn't. I needed that job more than she did.
I would meet her several years later in a full-suit-gear in the City, that spark still in her eyes. Her time with me was merely a fluke—the pity in her eyes told me that. Meanwhile, here I was still trying to write a story as good as the one I watched that night.
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