I wipe beads of sweat from my temple, my eyes straining from the intricate task of chiselling the image of a little girl. It needs to be just right.
When I work, time stops. The world around disappears; I’m blind and deaf. And there’s nothing like the feeling of turning a piece of rock, clay or wood into a human face, a mask or a statuette. It’s a journey, a transformation, the piece becoming a part of you, two becoming one.
Right now I’m carving on metal. Lead more precisely – and the piece is no bigger than my fingernail.
I’ve already spent two and a half hours carving on the smooth metal surface, engraving the image of the precious child. Her eyes full of curiosity and mischief, her hair curling behind her tiny ears and framing her gorgeous face. It’s the face of my daughter when she was just five. My jaw tightens as my eyes moisten. I swallow hard trying to focus.
A few final delicate scratches with the needle-sized chisel on her soft hair spiralling to her shoulders. I blow metal dust off and slide my finger over the engraving. The magnifying glass reveals a miniature copy of the picture on the wall. What she would have looked like twelve years older. A cold lump rises in my throat. I swallow but the lump is stubborn.
I rip myself from the painful memories, I need to polish this. The Dremel hisses to life and soon the tiniest edges disappear under the spinning head.
It’s now perfect. I lean back in the chair and sit motionless staring at my daughter’s face. Smooth and flawless, as if my little treasure was still alive. I tear my eyes away from her image, get up and bring the mounting case. Careful not to scratch it, I fit my miniature piece of carving into the opening and secure it with a pair of rounding pliers. I pause.
It is a masterpiece.
A tiny statue of lead, like a bust standing on the shiny brass cylinder. Holding it just by the rim I insert it into its special holding place and snap the slide shut. It fits perfectly. I hope when the time comes it will do the job it was made for.
Hours later when I look into the loathed, narrow face of the man who took my child away, his eyes are expressionless as ever; like they were that miserable day twelve years ago when his speeding car veered from the road and hit my little angel while she played in the front yard. He pleaded not guilty, although he had been driving under the influence of drugs. He never said he was sorry. He has just been released from jail. A travesty of justice.
While peering into his blank eyes I reach under my coat. The roar of the blast rattles the sleeping houses on the dark street. With just one shot I deliver the image of my precious angel straight to the heart of her killer.
Now we’re both dead inside.
Author’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of publications such as Mystery Tribune, Switchblade, Out Of The Gutter, Mystery Weekly, The Dark City Crime and Mystery Magazine, Heater, Pulp Modern Flash and elsewhere. He lives in Melbourne down under.