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Gillian in Bronze - art by Rafael Suzarte
by Leem

A flash short (947 words). I’ve tried to be a bit subtle in this one, so that readers who aren’t familiar with agalmatophile tropes will hopefully take a little while to figure out what’s really going on. Of course, regular readers will figure it out immediately. (Drat!)

In late October 2021, Iago Faustus interviewed me for the Squick or Squee podcast, as well as reading this story in full. The superb art that now accompanies the text was commissioned for the podcast website by Iago from Rafael Suzarte.

The guests would be arriving soon. It was just a little informal get-together in honour of my successful art project, but I was anxious to make it as perfect as possible.

For the twentieth time I checked that the program controlling the curtains, spotlights and turntable was working, and then stepped back to admire my handiwork.

“Gillian,” I said, admiring the nude bronze figure that stood in the brightly illuminated alcove. “A true masterpiece, if I say so myself. And I do.”

I pressed the reset button. The spotlights went out and the curtains closed over the alcove. It seemed a pity to hide such beauty, but it wouldn’t be long before the official unveiling.

Only a few minutes passed before the doorbell rang and I welcomed Tom and Janice in. A short while later it was James and Sarah’s turn, and finally Ellie and her new girlfriend Annette.

I’d prepared a light buffet luncheon, and the seven of us chatted about this and that as we sipped our wine and nibbled our hors d’oeuvres.

“Still building robots, are you?” asked Tom.

“Among other things,” I smiled.

“Speaking of which, when do we finally get to see what you’ve been hiding from us for all these months?” asked James.

“Right now,” I said, pressing the remote. The curtains opened, the spotlights came on, and Gillian’s statue rotated languidly on her pedestal.

Gillian's statue rotated languidly on her pedestal. Art by Rafael Suzarte.

The effect was gratifying. Everyone gasped in amazement and crowded forward for a closer look.

“Wow, that’s amazing,” said Ellie. “Did you really make this all by yourself?”

I smiled with as much false modesty as I could muster. “Oh, it wasn’t that difficult,” I told them. “Nowadays with holograms and fabrication programs you scarcely need any artistic talent of your own. Of course the hardware is still a bit expensive, and bronze isn’t exactly cheap either, but basically all I had to do was press a few buttons and the machines did the rest. It’s not that different from building robots really, except that a statue doesn’t have to move.”

“But it’s so realistic,” said Sarah. “It’s Gillian to the life.”

“Such a shame she’s not here to see it,” said Janice. “It was funny about her suddenly running off to Hong Kong like that without even leaving a forwarding address.”

“Well, you know how it is,” I said. “Personal differences. Gillian was always telling me I was too possessive, that I didn’t have the maturity to let her go. I thought she was too restless, that she shouldn’t have got into our relationship if she wasn’t prepared to settle down. I lost count of the number of times she threatened to walk out on me. So I guess it wasn’t exactly a match made in Heaven, but we did have some good times, and when I suggested sculpting her she was quite happy to model for me.”

“Yeah, and aren’t you glad she did?” blurted Tom, who was already in his cups. “After all, as long as you’ve got this baby, you hardly need the real thing, do you? All you need to do is drill a hole or two, and Bob’s your...ow!”

Janice, who had “accidentally” kicked Tom in the shin, shot me an apologetic glance. With an effort I restrained myself from kicking him even harder - after all, he was the son of the CEO of one of the world’s largest banks, so it was probably just as well to stay on his good side. Instead I slapped him on the shoulder and laughed heartily.

“She is so sexy,” said Annette, who had her arm around Ellie’s waist. “You feel like she’s really looking at you.”

Ellie nodded in agreement. “I know it sounds silly,” she said, “but I almost think she’s trying to tell us something.”

“Well, she was sculpted from life,” I reminded them. “As I said, modern technology allows you to capture a perfect likeness.”

“So, will you be selling her?” asked James. “I imagine there’d be a lot of interested buyers.”

I smiled. “Well, maybe I am possessive,” I said, “but I’ve decided to keep her as a reminder of all the good times we had together. Still, now that I’ve mastered the technique there’s no reason why I couldn’t produce some more statues and sell them.”

“Well, I wouldn’t mind modelling for you,” said Janice, ignoring the jealous glare that this drew from Tom. “Not if you could make me look that sexy.”

Sarah, Ellie and Annette all voiced their agreement.

“Well, I’d be delighted to take you up on that - in a purely professional artistic manner, of course,” I told them. “But I wouldn’t be able to start right away, I’m afraid. Work’s going to be keeping me pretty busy for a few months, and I just won’t have the time.”

“Ah, yes, you never do talk much about your robotics work, do you?” said James. “I hear a lot of it’s classified.”

“Something like that,” I smiled.

“Building an army of metal soldiers, I suppose,” said Tom.

“Or millions of robot insects to spy on people,” suggested Ellie.

“Well, from what I heard,” said James, “they’re now working on a way to transfer human consciousness into robots.”

This was met with murmurs of disbelief from the others. Of course, I just kept smiling.

“Just imagine that,” James continued. “Human minds, alive and conscious in metal bodies, able to see and hear and even feel.”

I stole a surreptitious glance at the metal figure of Gillian. It was true; sculpting it had been just like building a robot, except that a statue couldn’t move...couldn’t ever walk out on me....

“Yes,” I smiled. “Imagine that.”

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