Reverse Pygmalion

I’m an architect. It’s what I do.

Design. That’s what you start with. I first started designing things when I got my first girlfriend. She had a sort of magnetic pull about her that drew me to start planning imaginary buildings dedicated to her – oh, that column is the bridge of her nose, the clear lacquer her smooth, pale skin.

I carved her in ivory, too, painstakingly, no small detail left out. I’d never felt more alive as when I worked on that sculpture – to push, prod, sculpt an unmoving block into something amazing, to capture the silver tint of her eyes, to capture the curve and dip of her neck.

Over the months leading up to our anniversary, I saved penny after penny to buy the materials I needed – then I carved what I felt when I thought of her, a tattoo of a swarm of butterflies inching their way down her neck like a black infection. It made my stomach giddy and swirl in loop-de-loops – a migration from the pit of my gut to the top of my throat – then back down again.

The sculpture of her complete, I had an urge to take her and put her in a tank in an aquarium to study – the way her hair swirled around her, the way her bare neck lay white and still, the way she sunk with an inhuman grace.

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