S he was trapped inside the block of marble for as long as there had been marble in the earth. She did not bemoan her situation, because she did not know any alternative. She did not wait for rescue, but rescue came all the same, and it cut out a block around her and pulled her from the ground.
She never knew the artist who received her, and she never learned his name. But the moment he saw her in his studio, he called her “the goddess,” and the name felt right. He started at the top of the block, cutting out large chunks of rock, coming frightfully close to her head and shoulders. She wondered what would happen if he knocked into her, if there would be pain, or if her spirit would drain out of the splinter, or if she would not even know. Even she was not fully sure what her body should be. But he never even scraped her, because he was sure. Where everyone else saw an unfinished block, he saw “the goddess.”
He started with the top of her head, forming her hair that sat in waves. It was slow work, but enchanting, to feel the air breezing in through the window, to feel his tools carefully constructing her scalp. He knew her better than she knew herself, and though one slip up, one wrong cut could destroy her forever, she put her complete trust in the artist.
When her head was fully formed, with open eyes and parted lips, with flowing hair and the beginnings of a long neck, a man came in dressed in colorful robes, smiling at the artist and shaking his hand.
“How do you do it?” the man asked, amazed. “To know the form without even a model. How did you create her?”
“I created nothing,” the artist insisted. “She was always there. I was lucky enough to receive her. It is my privilege to set her free.”
And in time, he did set her free. He gave her a curving back and muscular legs that to the outside world would seem stuck in their athletic pose, but to “the goddess” the position was perfection. Until his hands released her, she never knew what it was like to hold a bow in her grasp, never knew what it was like to arch her feet.
She left the studio and was brought to the house without being able to thank the artist, though he came one more time to collect a sack of coins, and he smiled at her when he left, admiring the spirit he had set free. And many people followed, stopping by to admire her, this wonder that had been hidden in the earth, that never knew it was a miracle until someone saw through a block of marble to “the goddess” that waited inside.
She moved to many places over the years, and finally came to rest in a great hall filled with other statues of other glorious beings, that sang out through their beauty praises to the gods of fate who had allowed them to be found, who had blessed them with an artist. And “the goddess” felt lucky to be among them, to be praised by the visitors who flashed their cameras, to bring some people to tears through the vision of the artist.
It was bliss and it was happiness, and she could not have asked for more.
But sometimes she wished that the visitors would turn their cameras downward to the marble that lined the floor, to the spirits that remained trapped in small blocks forever, spread across the building, perhaps spread across the world. They did not cry for freedom, because they did not know what it meant to be free, but “the goddess” could see their spirits and hear their voices in the beauty of the smooth marble.
She was lucky to be freed by the artist, instead of being trapped in a room full of people blind to the life that lay in simple squares, trampled by the feet of those who never wondered about the goddess that could have been as their shoes scuffed the floor.