The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Princess of the Plinth (Part 2)

...continued from yesterday:

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.

“You have to do something when you’re up there. Everyone will be looking at you, waiting for you to do something. It will be like you’re on the stage or something.”

Thus Maxine began her journey with a sense of ambiguity and dread. The organizers didn’t really say that she had to “do” anything in particular. She had candies to toss out to the crowd. But she didn’t dance, or sing, or juggle, or anything of the like. The people would all be looking at her waiting for her to do something. She tried to push these thoughts from the forefront of her mind and convince herself that she was merely going to be part of a work of art—a living statue of sorts. Nevertheless that thought of “doing” something nagged at her.

The train ride and her arrival in London were uneventful. She had been to London once as a child and had even visited Trafalgar, but arriving in the city now on her own was a total sensory assault. She wished that she could have the luxury to see all the sights and take in all of the experience of the city. However, her first concern was finding her cousin Jane’s flat. When Maxine arrived at the apartment, she rang and did not get an answer. She dialed her cousin’s mobile phone number.

“Jane, it’s Max. I’m here.”

“Sorry Cuz, I had to leave town for a few days,” Jane apologized. “I left a key under the doormat. Make yourself comfy and just help yourself to whatever you need. I’m so sorry I can’t be there. I was looking forward to seeing you. When you leave just lock up and slide the key under the door.”

Maxine felt very alone. The flat was nicely kept and quite comfortable. She had really looked forward to having the company tonight and perhaps even going out for a bit. However, Maxine was decisive that she would not go anywhere on her own. She settled in for an evening to herself. With a dinner of biscuits and jam that she had brought courtesy of one of her patrons, she turned on the television and that was that. When she retired she merely did so on the sofa in the reception room so as not to stir up a bed. Sleep came easily and well she slept.

The next morning before leaving, Maxine tidied herself first and then what little mess she had made in the flat. She found a nearby bakery café and breakfasted on two buttered muffins and tea before transporting to Trafalgar. She arrived a couple of hours before her scheduled midday appointment. Her early arrival allowed her to check out the scene. The square was bustling with people who were involved in all states of activity and inactivity. Her gaze soon followed the gazes of many of those in assemblage and there she saw the Fourth Plinth. A man stood atop the Plinth dressed in some sort of costume reciting poetry bellowing in loud round tones. Maxine watched the man and then watched the people who were watching the man. She strolled through the crowd and looked at all of the different types of people involved in many different activities and relationships. She wished that she could be one of them. A lady replaced the costumed man who had been reciting poetry. Then, more quickly than Maxine would have expected, her appointed time arrived.

She reported to the project welcome center and under the professional direction of the representatives of the organization she was meticulously guided through the process. She was led to a change room where she donned her special fine looking dress and carefully adjusted the tiara onto her head. Looking at herself in the mirror, she held her head up and pronounced with amusement, “There! I shall be the Queen of the Plinth.” She paused with uncertainty and bit her lip. “No perhaps that would be far too pretentious. After all we have a Queen. No, I shall be the Princess of the Plinth!” She was pleased with the alliteration of the title and decided that this would be far more artsy. Now she was ready for her hour of glory or gaucherie. be continued tomorrow....


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