Happy Sunday every one!  Apologies for being absent for a bit, I was on a rather messy and very sunny adventure to Spain with my gal pals last weekend and quite honestly, I think I am only just recovering lol.  For tonight’s blog post, I will be featuring another of my artist collaborations.  For those of you who are new to my blog, basically I write a story inspired by an artist and their body of work and the artist then in turn creates an image/piece based off that story, the idea being to be inspired and inspire in return.  On this occasion, I had the honour of collaborating with the fabulous Arianna Piazza, the creative force and one woman team behind the ceramics company Bottega Krua.  Arianna studied art and ceramics at high school and later got a masters degree with honours at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice.  She is a multi award winning artist, who has been selected in group and solo exhibitions around Italy and in 2013 she won an art residency for one year in Venice, at Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation…so basically, she’s amazing!  She is not only a truly talented artist but a very lovely person and I have really enjoyed getting to know her during this process.  To check out more of her work or make a purchase, you can head to her Instagram or website now!  For now, happy reading and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with my latest book reviews and pieces of original writing!

He Comes For Me

bottega1
He comes for me at 4 am every night. I have become so used to it now, just another part of my routine, a simple addition to my ‘to do’ list: Take medication upon waking, try to eat something, Hospital appointment at 1pm, visit from death at 4am. I wasn’t always this blasé about it. The first time it happened, I was filled with a terror I had not experienced since the day they gave me my diagnosis. I don’t know what had awoken me. There had been no noise, no words uttered or hand placed on my arm to bring me out of my slumber. I had simply opened my eyes expecting to see someone, knowing somehow, I was being watched. Perhaps it is some evolutionary throwback to the days when man was prey as much as predator, a way to stay alert even during rest. At first, I saw only my room, made unfamiliar by the hour, moonlight casting strange shadows across my furniture. But as my eyes scanned the darkness, slowly adjusting to their surroundings, they fell upon a figure in the doorway. I remember a sudden rush of fear and adrenaline, my body immediately tensing, preparing for fight or flight. “Who are you?” The figure just stood there, a mere shadow back lit by the large landing window, a man shaped void in its frame. “Who are you?” Again, nothing, just the silence permeated by my own staggered, panicked breathing. “What do you want?” Only then did he move, his arm slowly raised to point straight at me in answer to my question. I groped for my bedside lamp, never taking my eyes off him in case he came at me, but with one flick of the switch, he was gone, a shadow disappearing in the presence of light.

I struggled to get back to sleep that night despite the digital clock on my nightstand bottega4
glowing red in the night, reminding me that I should be unconscious. I checked the house of course, every room, inside every wardrobe, under every bed, but there was no one there. The doors were still locked, the windows still closed and latched and there was no indication that anyone had ever been in my home except for me. I chalked it up to my own morbid imagination, a combination of heavy medication and my new-found obsession with death. I had been told I was going to die, I was sick and there was nothing that could be done to prevent the inevitable. It was understandable that I would have bad dreams, that I would be afraid of what was to come. Two sleeping tablets and a large glass of wine later and I slept like a baby.

But, at 4am on the dot the following night, it happened again. Except this time when I awoke, I found he was inside my room. He was by the window, a gap in the curtains casting a strip of light across the floor, a dividing line between my side of the room and his. Once more, I felt that surge of adrenaline, the fear and anticipation of a threat, my body tensing and readying itself for an attack. My eyes darted to the empty wine glass on my nightstand, a makeshift weapon if required. But he just stood there as before, watching me, his features still obscured by the darkness. “Who are you?” This time, he answered me, not with words, but by moving slowly into the shaft of light until I could see his face, if that’s what you can call it. For where a face should have been, I saw a skull. Where there should have been flesh and skin, I saw only bone. Where eyes should have stared at me through the dark, I saw only an empty void, two black holes darker even than the night which surrounded us, never ending pits. I heard something smash, I hadn’t even realised I had grabbed the glass and I felt myself freeze, paralysed by fear. But as before he just stood there, watching me. “Please, what do you want?” Again, his arm raised slowly and a long, gloved finger pointed at me through the black. I reached for the lamp and as soon as light entered that terrible darkness, he was gone.

This happened night after night, always at the same time and always in the same way. bottega2The only thing that would change would be his location, sometimes he would be standing at the bottom of my bed, sometimes he would be sitting in the chair at my desk, but always he watched me without saying a word. I used these meetings to study his features, or lack thereof. The skull which formed his head was white and clean, like someone only recently decayed rather than the ancient, ivory coloured skulls I have seen in museums and books. When the nights were clear and cloudless and the moonlight could flood my room, I could see small patterns etched into the bone all over his face, like the Mexican day of the dead skulls I had seen on TV. There were thorny vines creeping around his features, reminding me of barbed wire, but amongst this there were also roses, some in bloom, some budded but all equally beautiful. I realised over time, he wore a black suit, like something one would wear to a funeral, but instead of a traditional neck tie, he had a bolo tie like the kind Americans wear, a single oval shaped black onyx in the centre, the plaited leather tipped at the ends with silver. I cannot tell if he is a skeleton, whether he is devoid of flesh entirely, or whether apart from his head, he simply has a body like any other man, like mine. His head is all I can see, the rest covered by the suit, black leather gloves on his hands and heavy black boots on his feet. I also cannot tell how he feels or what he is thinking. One does not realise how heavily we rely on the social cues presented by our faces until we are presented with the faceless, the body language shown from a raised eyebrow or a twitched mouth, the emotion expressed by the widening of the eyes or a furrowed brow. He could be smiling at me, I have no idea.

bottega3In the beginning, I was convinced I was hallucinating or dreaming. This being was simply a manifestation of my own fear of death. But eventually, I understood, that this being was death. I realised that he was not here to frighten me, quite the opposite, he was here to stop me from being afraid, to show me he is not my enemy, he is not the disease which eats at me, draining me of life, he is merely a guide, someone to help me find my way when the end comes. I almost look forward to his nightly visits now. I find comfort in his presence and in knowing I won’t have to do it alone. It’s almost 4am now…I wonder if tonight is the night.

*Are you an artist or musician and would like to collaborate?  Please get in touch!

One thought on “He Comes for me: A Short Story & Ceramic Artist Collaboration.

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