A little man made from one rod of wire, standing no more than eight inches, stood motionless on a high shelf. He shrugged off his stiffness and walked to the edge of the shelf to look across the studio. Strewn with drawing and painting utensils, it was chaotic clutter uplifted by striking watercolours and pastel pictures lying here and there.
The artist had left for lunch and the sound of the door locking signalled relaxation time for the wire man and his colleagues. Paper mache figures sprung to life on the worktop; two of them played sword fencing with paint brushes while the other three played tag. A dog made entirely of paper-clips, snatched a nearby glove puppet in its jaws and shook its head wildly, paper clips rattling while the glove puppet wriggled, annoyed and dizzy…again. The clay thinker just sat, thinking, looking. Being the first one made, the wire man had known each one since they were first put together.
His gaze finally rested upon Anne of Green Gables. The hand-made doll shuffled to the crafted wooden bicycle she always rode. Clambering on, she pedalled around as hard as her stuffed legs allowed. She looked up at the little wire man with her permanent smile, and waved like she always did, and he rather sheepishly waved back as he always did. He had always liked Anne, even though she had to tower over him by at least ten inches, but never knew if she liked him the same way. He loved all his friends, but everything would still be complete in his own little wire world had it just been her. She would coax him to come down to play and he yearned to join her but his shelf was too high. He couldn’t even make it from the shelf to the worktop. The gap was deceptively wide, causing several previous failed attempts. Only a boring plasticine dinosaur waddling around, flashing its toothy grin, accompanied him on his shelf.
Later, the models resumed their positions before the artist returned. Normally, he continued working but instead, the artist spent the rest of this day tidying. Painting materials were cleared away, the easel was pushed to the side, the top of it almost reaching the wire man’s shelf which didn’t go unnoticed by the observant little one. Paintings were gathered and hung carefully on the wall. From his high point, the wire man watched closely. Price tags were placed on the paintings. More disturbingly, price tags were placed alongside the models, including himself – all the models except Anne. The artist picked her up and put her in a cupboard. What was happening?
When the artist left that night, the models stirred. They looked around and at each other but the atmosphere was different. There was no play, all of them aware something was wrong.
The following day, the studio was visited by people looking at the artist’s work. They talked to him, bought some of his paintings and a few of the models. The wire man sadly saw two of his paper mache friends and a glove puppet go. When everyone had left, he went limp with relief. He hadn’t been taken and Anne was safe and still with him.
Suddenly, the studio door knocked and a lady with a small girl entered. The artist seemed to know them. He picked the girl up and the three chatted happily. The wire man watched them, straining his wire rod neck as much as possible. The artist unlocked his cupboard and brought out Anne. He gave her to the small girl who hugged the doll tight and tucked it under her arm. Anne’s head was facing away from the wire man but slowly, too slowly for anyone to notice, she turned and looked directly at him and he saw, just below the stitching of her embroidered eye, a droplet of water dampen the fabric of her face as she was led away, out the door and out of his sight.
His wire body surged with rage, burning like a piece of magnesium. Anne wanted to stay and that was all the little wire man needed to know. He leapt into action. The top of the easel was now only a foot beneath him. The bottom hung a few inches above the worktop. He beckoned his plasticine dinosaur neighbour to the edge, then signalled the three remaining paper mache friends on the worktop to push a pile of cleaning sponges toward the bottom of the easel.
Sliding down the dinosaur’s tail, he reached the top of the easel. Next, he edged along and looked down, spotting a loose fibre sticking out from the canvas. Lying across the top of the easel, he reached down and wrapped it around his wire hand. All eyes were fixed on the adrenaline-charged escapade. He leapt from the top of the easel, the fiber tearing from the canvas, allowing him to abseil and land safely on the sponges.
The thinker had been moved close to the worktop. The sounds of crumbling and scraping were heard as he shifted his arm from its rigid thinking position, clay dust dwindling from his imposing mass. He held his hand out to the wire man who hopped on and was lowered gently to the floor. His wire legs ran like tiny stilts to the door which the artist had left slightly open. He knew what lay outside was uncertain and he would undoubtedly face serious danger, but this was the way Anne went and the way he would follow.
He looked back at the studio and gave a wave of thanks to his comrades – this curious mix of sculptures and models who had been a comfort blanket to him for so long. The paper clip dog’s tail wagged and rattled, the clay thinker winked and the paper mache figures raised tubs of acrylic in a toast as the little wire man set off to bring back the one he loved.
About the Author
Andrew Newall’s short fiction has been placed in various competitions since the late 2000’s. Wired for Action made the longlist in the Word Hut Short Story Competition in October 2014. More recently, he won 1st place in the first Writer’s Notebook Short Story Competition in January 2015 with The Delivery. He lives near Falkirk in Scotland.
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