With sweat seeping down his back and grease soaked into his clothes, he leans over the bench, hard at work.
Before him lies a sheet of metal.
There are three circles drawn upon it in white chalk.
He picks up the angle grinder and slowly, with great care and precision, cuts out three perfect circles. They lie before him like three blank faces. He picks up a ruler and traces a five-point star on each disc, making sure that every point is evenly spaced around the perimeter of the circle. This time he plugs in the plasma cutter and uses it to slice the metal from each point down until it’s just short of the centre.
He takes his time, rounding the edge of each new partition.
He does this three times to each of the three discs before drilling a hole in their centres. Metal shavings have built up on the floor around him. His skin is red from the heat and his eyes are beginning to ache from concentration.
But he is determined to finish.
He carries the discs to his welder, and welds the top of one, places another disc on top of this, and repeats the process. He rotates each disc a third of the way before laying it down so that none of his original cuts line up. Next he takes a torch and a set of pliers, and begins to shape each red hot segment until they are bent upwards in a perfectly symmetrical pattern. They begin to resemble petals. He folds the top ones in tightly, allowing enough room for the next ones to unfurl around them.
It looks almost like a rose now.
But he knows that organic things are rarely symmetrical, and almost never so flawless, so he bends and twists the petals until they’re beautifully imperfect. The heat burns his skin, but he doesn’t care. When he has finished, he takes a hose and listens to the hiss of cooling metal as the water hits the flower. His coarse hands shake slightly. He cleans out all the flakes of metal in the rose before pushing it onto a metallic stem.
The rose is lovely.
Just like her.
He can’t wait to give it to her and see the way her eyes glow with joy. But when he hands her the metal rose, his heart racing, her top lip rises in a sneer as she looks down at the object.
‘What a waste of time,’ she says derisively and throws it back into his hands. ‘Why don’t you go and do something useful with your time, idiot?’
She turns back to her mirror and runs a brush through her hair, admiring her lovely reflection as it stares back at her with cruel, selfish eyes. He returns to his workshop. There is a long enduring silence as he stands in the middle of the room, unable to move. His heart feels as heavy and cold as the metal in his hands. Finally he places the rose into one of his machines and pushes the leaver down until he hears a crunch, and then turns away, leaving the rose pressed flat inside the machine.