Whether I’ve slept or not it doesn’t matter, my nightmares would just be a recreation of my daily life. I do not feel tiredness in my body. I do not feel my body. It is made of solid bronze and the only feeling I do feel is me aging every day. If someone were to touch me with their hands, my coldness would diffuse to their fingers, but their warmth would not reach me. If they were to knock on me, the emptiness inside of me would create a hollow sound just as if to mock and remind me of my blank existence.
But of course, not many people come by me; my spot in this park is quite hidden. Since the park had renovations and expanded it caused me retreating more and more into the abyss of the trees growing around me. They shield me. They grow everywhere and hide me from view, hide me from passers-by. Even though sometimes I think it could be nice to be seen, my trees are my safety net and going against them would only lead to change and chaos.
It is now morning and the newly woken sun is rising to fill the sky with light. I remember the days when sun rises were beautiful, when I could feel the warmth of its rays and happily breathe in the air of a new day. But today, like every day, I witness the sunrise with no emotion but the acknowledgment of it being a new morning.
The familiar chirping of a bird resonates behind me. I wait for it to come to me, not that I would move anywhere otherwise. The chirping gets louder and closer until finally the bird lands on my shoulder. My bird… my only friend. It remains still for a few moments before flying up again. Bird droppings fall down my chest creating an abstract pattern with the remains of previous droppings. To this routine, I make no comment but just remain still like always, watching the bird swoop down landing on my shoulder once again. From somewhere above in the trees another bird starts chirping, signalling it is time for my friend to leave. Without hesitation or a look back in my direction it takes off wondering towards the other bird. I take its departure indifferently and remain still, waiting for another day to pass by.
The spot my eyes are fixed on is very uninteresting. I’ve always felt like moving my eyes to a different location, perhaps it would make my days less dull. But my stiff and unmovable body impedes me from doing so. I am stuck. My eyes fall upon the roots of a tree which depending on the season becomes covered in mud, snow, leaves or grass. Some may find it interesting to see the change in such a small spot but it gives me no exhilaration. If anything, it only reminds me of how fast I am aging. I can feel little bits of me crumbling away; I can feel plants and moss covering me and weathering happening all over my once polished body. Perhaps it was this feeling that shut off the others. The constant reminder of my limited time here was too painful to bare and I became emotionless. I cannot say I have accepted this process but I now wish it would happen faster. Crumbling away completely as if I never existed: my numbness would cease to dominate me.
It’s about noon now and I can hear voices coming this way. If it was possible to become stiffer I would, hoping the voices won’t come near me or see me. I try to relax, reminding myself that my plants are protecting me. I’m safe. Sure enough the voices soon fade away as the people go on about their stroll.
And just like that, another day has ended and darkness now embraces the park. I try hard to switch off but sleep doesn’t come to take me to its world so I just stay still, waiting for the night to go by.
Another morning has commenced, and just as I prepare myself for another day of nothingness I hear a sound. It’s a rustling of leaves as if someone is trying to get through my trees. I hope it’s a squirrel or another small animal but I can hear it’s something bigger. A shoe emerges from some bushes and a whole person follows suit panting frantically as she sits down right where my vision lies. I hear laughter and a few people running and the girl starts shaking with fear. She holds her breath and listens out for the voices closing in on us. She finally begins moving once the voices can no longer be heard. She catches her breath and hesitantly stands up. I suddenly feel fear as she approaches me. I surprise myself. I haven’t felt such a strong emotion for quite some time. The girl is standing and studying me with curious eyes. I start wondering about how I must look. Probably like a disgraceful mess but I haven’t had to think about that before today. She comes closer yet again, and I can’t help but shudder, as much as a statue can, at her touch. She doesn’t pull away as others have done from the coldness but leaves her hand there as she investigates me closer. She begins moving her hand down towards my feet and without warning starts ripping out the moss and plants that have been growing on me. No! My plants! My protection! She can’t do that- I stop my trail of thoughts. Once again I am feeling something: anger.
The girl steps back once she’s finished ripping. I feel so exposed that my cheeks feel a little warmer, although I tell myself that can’t be possible. Unexpectedly she begins talking. ‘You’re a pretty thing, aren’t you?’ Her gaze travels up to my face as she continues talking. ‘Thank god I managed to run away from them; they were ready to beat me up.’ She sits down cross legged on the ground. ‘I think you’re the prettiest statue around here, there’s something different about you.’
To this I felt surprised. There were others like me? Distracted by this new thought I don’t notice my bird landing on my shoulder. The girl seems interested at first but as soon as its droppings land on me, she stands up and scares it away. I begin to be infuriated. How dare she? That was my only friend. ‘I better go home now, statue.’ Her voice interrupts my thinking and soon after I feel a hand touching my leg as she says goodbye.
As she leaves I am left in awe. Did she make me feel? Is that even possible? I keep contemplating this question for the rest of the day and before I know it, it’s starting to get dark. The chill of the night envelopes me and I start to feel tired until finally I can’t keep awake any longer and I fall into a deep sleep.
It is now the morning after and my bird has not come to me. An old familiar feeling of sadness spreads through me. What is happening to me? I spend the rest of the morning more perplexed than ever before. I think I am changing, if that is possible.
It’s just after noon and I suddenly hear the rustling of leaves. Sure enough the girl emerges from the bushes carrying a bunch of flowers. ‘Hello!’ She is so enthusiastic to see me. ‘I thought you might like some flowers to look at since you’re in such a desolate spot.’ I see her bend down and arrange the flowers in a pretty pattern. ‘There.’ She says standing back up, proud of her arrangement. The girl starts talking to me, opening up about all her problems. I can’t help but feel less useless. She has found someone to talk to.
It starts to rain. I feel the drops hit me hard, wearing me down. I feel the pain, and I can’t help but like it. I pray for it to continue, to keep destroying me, to keep me feeling something… The girl swears and hastily says goodbye before running out of the bushes to into the rest of the park. Once again, I am left alone, dealing with the pain as it beats and beats and beats down on my vulnerable self.
By the next day, the rain has dried up and a scorching hot sun is beating down on me through the exposed bit of sky amidst the trees. My bird does not come today; this change of routine is scaring me. I hate the unknown.
At about the same time as yesterday she comes. The girl looks sad. She sits down and leans her head on my leg. ‘You know, sometimes I wish I was a statue like you. I could spend days on end just being still. Living a still life… it sounds so much better than the forever changing one I have to live in.’ She sighs and wipes a tear away from her cheek. I can’t help but feel sympathy and somewhat sad for her. If only I could move, If only I could reach her and help her. Too soon she is saying goodbye once again and leaving me to be on my own. The day is passing quickly and before I know it it’s evening. The girl’s words from a few days prior are replaying constantly in my head. There are others like me. I feel a twitch in my neck as I desperately hope to look around me. I start pushing against myself with all my will. There’s a loud cracking sound and an immense pain spreads through me. I close my eyes overtaken by agony and don’t open them until it ebbs away leaving only the memory of it within me. I slowly open my eyes, revealing a new part of the park I had not seen in such a long time. Shocked by this vision, I test my eyes, blinking quickly to see if I am dreaming. I am not. I can see around me, my vision is no longer fixated! I frantically look in all directions and I can’t help but feel excitement surge through me as I search for the other statues the girl had talked about. And there they were! Just like me they are all standing still, each dominating their little area of the park. I watch them, hoping to catch their attention but most of them have their visions fixated and I cannot reach them. The night comes too quickly but I easily fall to sleep reassured by the news that I was not alone.
The next weeks pass quickly. The girl, whose name I discover is Anna , comes to me almost every day. She tells me her problems and all about her life; it’s nice to feel like I have a purpose. I practice moving my vision every day and with each new sun rise I am able to see further and further. I am experiencing something so different, so new. I wake up with eagerness and smile at the sounds of the nature surrounding me. I can feel the beauty of the earth and of the wind. My body starts feeling less of a huge weight and for the first time in forever I feel like I could be in control.
It is mid afternoon when Anna makes her way through the overgrown plants to sit by me. She smiles at me, she undoubtedly sees the difference in me.
‘I think you’re ready.’ She says softly. I start feeling anxious. Am I ready? Can I manage to leave all of this? All my security? My racing thoughts are brought to a halt when Anna extends a hand towards me, her eyes staring deeply into mine encouragingly. Suddenly I know I am going to be ok and before I can stop myself I shakily raise my hand, confronting my stiffness and overcoming it to touch hers.
‘I knew you could do it.’ Anna said.