Fiction: ‘Temperance’

Temperance

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She stands atop a marble base, as smooth and perfect as a statue.

Her eyes are closed as she balances on one leg. Each hand is wrapped around a cup; one is full of clear liquid while the other is empty. Both cups are chipped and have a network of tiny cracks across the worn clay.

She appears so still.

So utterly lifeless.

And yet, if you watch her for long enough, you’ll notice how one hand will slowly rise above the other and tip the liquid from one cup into the other. She seems to rotate ever so slightly. I look down to inspect her pedestal. It’s a perfect sphere, half buried in the dirt with weeds creeping around its circumference. When I look up again, I could swear that she is now standing on the other leg. There’s the glint of a smile in her eyes which I can’t decide if it has only just appeared or whether it has always been there.

She stands completely still, balancing with a kind of silent poetry.

Every minute shift of her weight is like a beautiful line in a book. One of her legs rises so imperceptibly that I don’t notice until she is leaning over me, her back arched gracefully and her foot stretched out behind her in a pose that reminds me of a dancer. I step back to gaze at the perfection of her balance; it seems so simple at first glance, so achievable.

But I know better.

I know well enough how hard it is to master her form of art.

There’s really nothing simple about it.

She winks and continues to balance as people rush by us, barely noticing that she is even there as they hurry passed to the next attraction.

~ Ekaterina

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