Due to the Christmas holiday schedule, over the next four days I will be offering a short story that I had been working on directly prior to starting my blog back in September. This story appears as written in its first draft form. I have not attempted to rewrite anything and thought I might get some critique and commentary from some of you readers. So I'll be hoping to hear something from you, though I may not see your comments until after January 2, when I am back online. Please leave a comment, good or bad, about this experiment of mine.
I hope I have explained the setting and circumstance well enough in the beginning of the story that you don't get lost or confused. I will provide explanation at the end of the story.
The Princess of the Plinth -- Part 1
Beryl looked at her quizzically, “Plinth? What’s a plinth?”
“A plinth--it’s a sort of pedestal like they mount a statue on.”
“I still don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re going to be on a plinth?”
“The Fourth Plinth Project by Antony Gormley,” Maxine explained. “On the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square. It starts in July and for one hundred days each hour twenty four hours a day someone different will be on the Plinth.”
“And why would anyone want to do such a thing?”
“It’s art!” Maxine cried. “It’s a participatory installation by Antony Gormley.”
“And who exactly is this Antony Gormley fellow?” Beryl persisted.
And this was typical of the response that Maxine got when she told others of her chosen status to appear on the Plinth. Then after the initial wonderment of it all, there came the mild, oft feigned, encouragement. Most everyone who knew Maxine knew that art was her great desire in life. Much of the time she could be found drawing, painting, or working at some crafty endeavor. Her greatest wish would have been to go to art school, study art, and become a working artist. However, by the fate of her life circumstance and lack of money she struggled as a shop clerk saving whatever spare money she could in hopes of one day achieving her dreams of art. It was always a struggle.
She told Beryl, “When I go to London I’m going be staying with my cousin Jane so that will save me money, but I will still need about a hundred pounds to take the train.”
“Do you have the hundred pounds to spare?” asked Beryl.
“I have some of it. The organizers suggest that I could solicit donations from my community and people I know to help out.”
“I can dole in two pounds,” Beryl said as she reached into her pocketbook. “Just don’t spend it on anything except for your train fare.”
And Maxine tucked away the two pounds and thought to herself, “Now if I can only find fifty other contributors”
By the time she had gone through her friends and family and gathered what she could of her own funds which she could spare, she was halfway to having enough to pay for her rail ticket to London. Then came the challenge of obtaining the other half of the needed monies. Approaching strangers, or at least those people whom she did not know very well, was a frightful proposition. Her first attempt was at a costume shop near the shop where she worked.
“A donation?” queried the owner, who looked around and then handed Maxine a tiara covered with rhinestones. “There you go.”
Maxine studied the tiara in her hands before quietly saying, “Actually I was thinking about a donation of money to help pay my expenses to get to London.”
“Money?” said the shopkeeper, “you want a donation of money? Well I’m afraid I can’t help too much but here’s ten pounds—I hope that helps some.”
Getting donations from the shops was much easier than getting money from the people she knew and the shopkeepers didn’t make fun of her. And not only did they give her money, but they gave her merchandise as well. One shop gave her a fine looking dress to wear on the Plinth. Another gave her a couple of bags of sweets to throw to the onlookers at Trafalgar Square. She was given food to take with her on her trip. The entire mission was taking on an air of validity. The owner of the shop where she worked gave her permission to take two days off from work and gave Maxine her blessings. Maxine began looking forward to her hour on the Plinth.
Then the day came for her to leave. She had told everyone she knew how her entire appearance would be streamed live on the internet. They could all watch while she was on the Plinth. While she waited at the station for her train, Beryl posed an unexpected puzzler to Maxine.
“So what are you going to do while you’re on the Plinth? Have you thought of something?”
“Do?” Maxine stared vacantly, silently. Curiously she hadn’t thought of this.
...to be continued tomorrow....