Fingertips ghosted over the carefully arranged sand grains, not daring to touch its perfected surface. The man breathed softly so as to not make the sand below stir. For days, he had been toiling on this project. He had sacrificed sleep, meals, and outings. He had moaned and groaned over the sand design and the color choice, often cursing at himself for a minor slip up from exhaustion. Amidst the bloodshed, the agony, and the loneliness, this work of beauty and trueness had come to completion.
His art teacher assigned the prayer circle. Create it from small objects. Morph it into a work of art. Examine it, meditate upon it. Adore its majesty and greatness.
He agreed. He spent hours simply preparing the design of the prayer circle, discerning what symbolic meaning could go to which, or which style, the like. The work was endless, yet so too was his resolve. Now, all that remained rested in front of him.
A picture. A picture would immortalize this moment and trap it between a thin plastic covering that would eventually brown or bend… But that wasn’t the point of the exercise.
“You will create something painstakingly beautiful. Then you will destroy it.”
He took the brush in hand, engraved the picture in his mind, and bit his lip to prevent the tears from escaping. He couldn’t tear his eyes from it. His arm raised above, holding his breath as he tried to steal the masterpiece’s existence for seconds more.
“This is a lesson on how everything comes to an end. Beautiful or not.”
His arm tore across the middle of the piece of art. No. He could still see the swirls and the arches. He could still see the paths to the outer ring then freedom. Another sweep, in a diagonal. The swirls folded onto themselves. The colors blurred in the background.
“All art comes to an end. It must live on in the eyes of those who have seen it! But this art work…It shall only live on in your eyes.”
He would never get to tell his friends how he felt destroying this masterpiece bit by bit. He wouldn’t go into the specifics of realizing how humiliating it was to have wasted so much time on rubbish that would be destroyed in mere seconds.
“No art is ever wasted!” his teacher would bellow. “It is a message!”
A plethora of colored sand remained. Sand that lost its form. Even this, the remnants of his masterpiece, would not remain with him. He would find himself at the edge of the beach, dumping it into the waters. In an attempt to have others realize his achievement? To rid the disaster from his sight? He had no inkling. But it was gone.
As he watched the last grains tumble away, by sea, wind, or gravity, his eyes closed and concentrated on the image tattooed on the backs of his eyes. “…What is art worth if it lives on in one person?”
Danielle Eden Silva ’16