Striver Benjamin was a third generation wood sculptor. He learned his craft from his grandparents and father. His mother was a taxidermist of some renown. She preferred to work with skin and fur to bring her subjects some sense of dignity. But whatever medium the Benjamins worked in, they were trained to find the flow and feel the spirit within their work.
Spring was just breaking into summer as Striver walked into the courtyard outside the studio that morning. The sun was still rising warm and buttery. He stretched his arms outward and turned his face upwards with eyes closed, breathing in the sharp scent of freshly cut wood. Striver opened his eyes to view the stump before him. Although most of the other artists in the co-op preferred to work outside in the chill of fall, Striver liked working in the heat. He preferred to feel the movement of the air around his warm muscles. He revved the chain saw and began to work the large trunk.
As the chunks of wood began to fall away he could hear the calling of the muse, but there was something different this time. Was it a siren’s call or a witch’s spell? He worked with intensity, for so long that the sun had moved low and west when Striver finally stopped. He was sweaty, shaking, sawdust clung to his eyelashes, his mouth was thick and dry. The saw dropped from his hand and he thought it was dehydration playing a trick on him.
The form before him was a woman unfurling her arms above her head. It had to be an illusion that her flanks seemed to be expanding and contracting ~ so smooth and full in counter to his ragged pants. He reached out his hand, trembling slightly from exhaustion or exhilaration, he wasn’t sure. The wood still warm and so lustrous that all he could imagine was the feel of one caress.