Genres: Mainstream, Literary, Spirituality, Coming of Age
Blurb: Riana “Ria” Ofor is a gifted sculptress whose beautiful creations could draw crowds. But due to the childhood accident that left her facially scarred, she avoids selling her work publicly, instead scraping a living through online sales. However, when a home repossession notice arrives, both her love of sculpting, as well as her home, suddenly come under threat.
Now she is forced to step out of her comfort zone and enter the very public world of gallery showings. When she does land a gallery contract, she then finds herself the target of a rival artist after the very same contract. Using malicious lies about Ria, he intends to make her regret taking what should have been his. Now, Ria must look to find a truth that conquers all lies.
Ria appreciated the beauty of the headless female sculpture standing before her. A sculpture without its head has its own particular beauty. Strong sculpted legs, intricately crafted torso and powerful shoulders – the beauty of creation.
She squatted in front of the sculpture and ran a slender hand over its flanks. The modeling clay she had chosen had done its job; its durability ensuring the legs of the sculpture came out strong and smooth, the hips gently curved. Seven weeks into the making, this piece would be larger than any piece she had previously sculpted, and certainly more challenging.
Here in her art studio, which spanned the basement of her small house in London’s Island Gardens, clay statues of ancient kings and queens graced the long wooden shelves resting against ivory walls. A small sink sat at the far right end against the wall beside a large white storage cupboard, snug beside a two-seater. A small stereo, which she only turned on when sketching, rested on the table beside it.
Time to begin the head, she decided, as she rose gracefully to her feet. Creating the head was her favorite part. If the legs, shoulders, and torso possessed their own particular beauty, then how she created a sculpture’s head showcased its personality – laughing eyes, a slanted mouth, and a molded chin. These will bring out the figure’s humorous manner.
Ria got to her feet. A slim young woman with close-cropped, tightly-curled black hair; she had a dewy, dark chocolate complexion. And with a delicate oval face, even the faded pink burn scars that ran from the apples of her cheekbones down to her collarbone, her classic beauty couldn’t be marred.
She reached for her apron and tied it around her long-sleeved white t-shirt and soft faded blue jeans. Sculpting was arduous and messy work, but one of the perks of being a full-time sculptress was that she went to work in her most comfortable clothes.
She moved to where the armature waited atop the worktable. Shaped like an egg, an armature’s rigid metal framework ensured effective structuring of a sculpture’s head.
Collecting an armful of old newspapers from the storage cupboard in the corner, she rolled the papers into balls then began to fill the armature with them. Once thoroughly packed, she secured the head in place with a small plastic bag. Now for the clay. She took a moment to relish the solid, yet light weight of it in her hand. Then, detail by detail, piece by piece, she began adding more and more clay to the stuffed plastic bag, melding and smoothing it against the bag’s slippery surface. She hummed as she worked, following the measurements she had set out when the idea had first came into her head. Her deft and skilful fingers, armed with her trusted sculpting chisel, manipulated the clay.
The sharp slap of the letter box upstairs stopped her. She stretched her arms high over her head, working out the stiffness in her shoulders caused by bending over the armature. She crossed to the sink and washed her hands, then proceeded to leave the studio, heading up pink carpeted stairs to the ground floor.
She plucked the white envelope lying on the doormat. Early morning sunlight shone through the glass panel in the front door, and the click of women’s heels sounded on the pavement outside as they carried a neighbour to work. Once the morning rush was over as everyone had either left for work or school, she would go for her daily morning walk and then fuel up with a green juice.
She broke the seal of the envelope and pulled out the letter.
Dear Ms. Ofor,
Account No: 17032007-55GM Property: 55 Garden Mews
Please be informed that payment due on the above-referenced account has not been made. We have made several unsuccessful attempts to contact you. Our records show that your account is in arrears by £11,509.
Please make arrangements to clear the outstanding amount within 28 days, otherwise the case will be escalated to our solicitors, whereupon they may be forced to take legal action resulting in the repossession of the property.
If you have since made arrangements to clear the aforementioned amount, please ignore this letter.
Ria’s stomach dropped somewhere below ground level, and the noose of the repossession notice only tightened further around her neck, almost choking her.
D. U. Okonkwo was born and raised in London. An avid reader from childhood, she began writing her own stories at the age of ten. She holds a BSc Hons degree in Business with Spanish, and is currently working on her second novel.
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