Tuesday 29 May 2018

Sarah Little's Baked Boyfriend

Sarah Little's Baked Boyfriend: Object Post 21

Source? Sarah made him out of clay
Significance? Clay Newman was the perfect boyfriend, who wasn’t what Sarah needed
Fate? Sarah dismissed Clay by firing the statuette in the kiln
Author’s inspiration? This was my take on Pygmalion
First appearance? A Bird, a Bloke and a Boyfriend

I roughed out the general outline, using my thumbs to suggest the arms, and scooping clay out from where the jaw line would be. I could already see the tilt of the head, and how it would be slightly turned to one side. Kind of the way A.J. often stood… but of course the boyfriend wasn’t a bit like A.J.

Sarah Little, coming to spend a year with her grandmother in Australia, found everything changed, including her friend-next-door, A.J. Tobias, who’d got a lot taller and developed a girlfriend called Clemmie. Sarah, a budding sculptor, agreed to go to an activity camp called NEW and roughed out a sculpture. At the camp, she inexplicably met someone who looked a lot like her sculpture…
I relaxed, and looked up at Mr. Mocha-fudge.
“Have I seen you somewhere before?” I asked. “You do look kind of familiar.”
“I was there at NEW last night,” he reminded me.
“But I didn’t…” Then I laughed, because of course I had seen him last night. And kissed him, too! He’d been starring in my dreams.
His hand touched my arm and slid down, and his fingers closed gently around mine. “You don’t mind?” He glanced down at me, smiling. He knew I didn’t mind.
“How about your swim?” I asked as we came up to the first of the tents.
“Who wants to swim when he can keep company with a gorgeous girl, Sarah?” He gave me another sideways smile. He was big on smiling.
“Not you, obviously!” I said, and he squeezed my fingers. “What’s your name, by the way?” It didn’t seem quite real to be walking hand in hand with a guy I didn’t know. 
He hesitated. “Would Clay Newman do?”

Clay is the perfect boyfriend, but Sarah quickly tires of perfection. Also, he seems oddly vague about what he does when he isn’t with her.
“So, how did the modeling go today?” I said instead.
 He looked confused. “I don’t remember.”
“But it was only this afternoon…”          
“You weren’t there,” he said, as if that explained everything. And maybe it did.
“I’m here now,” I said. “And now I’m going to make you into a sculpture.”
Clay looked deeply into my eyes. “Princess, is this really what you want to do? You wouldn’t rather go for a walk? Or a picnic? Or back to the dance?”
“I really need to do this,” I said. “You’re a perfect subject for what I have in mind.” I smiled at him, and opened the cooler. “I’m going to call it The Boyfriend from where did you say you came from?”
“Daydreams,” said Clay.
I nodded, because that figured.
Creating The Daydream Boyfriend took me close to three hours. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard or so quickly on anything. I shaped and scraped and shaved and smoothed, and all the time I thought hard about that perfect boyfriend I’d wanted to create. It wasn’t difficult to do, since I had a perfect example in front of me.
Having finished the new sculpture, Sarah is a bit nonplussed. Clay is still there… Clearly, something more needs to be done.

“OK,” I said. “I’ll put it in the kiln.”
I reached for The Daydream Boyfriend, but Clay put his hand over mine. “Is this really the way you see me, Princess?” He sounded kind of wistful.
“Yes,” I said gently. “It really is.”
I opened the door of the kiln again and felt the heat beating on my face…
…I kissed The Boyfriend goodbye, then slipped it onto the rack. If this didn’t work, I’d…well, what could I do? …
I turned the latch on the kiln.
I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t what I got. The kiln clicked shut, there was a horrible squawk and A.J. fell through the Kiln Shop door and landed on his knees on the floor.
“Bloody hell!”
We stared at one another for a few seconds. A.J.’s eyes were popping.
“That figures,” I said, nudging him with my toe. “Get rid of one pesky guy and another one falls at my feet.”
“You—he—Little, what did you do to him?” A.J. sat up. “Where’d he go?”
I pointed to the kiln.
“Bloody hell,” said A.J. “You baked the beggar!”
“I did not,” I said. “The proper term is firing.
“You fired him?” A.J. choked.
“Yes. That’s what you do with statues.”
“Fine. Yes. Good.” A.J. staggered to his feet and leaned against the wall. He ripped off a piece of paper towel and mopped his forehead.  “Bloody hell!” he said again. “Remind me never to model for you, Little. You get sick of a bloke and then you fire him?”
I looked at him uneasily. “I didn’t hurt him… I just turned him back into what he really was.”
“I know that…” A.J. scrubbed at his forehead again. “But it gave me a bit of a turn. My bird the sorceress!”

Sarah isn’t really a sorceress, of course. She’s just a talented sculptor with a little extra in the talent department.

Sarah, A.J. and the baked boyfriend appear in A Bloke, a Bird and a Boyfriend.

About the Blog

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)

The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of May 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

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