after James Pradier’s “Sapho”
A foreign businessman pinches the ass of the Sapho sculpture in Musee d’Orsay to impress his guest, and the statue has had enough. Her prominent placement at the front of the museum ensures this happens more than should be possible, considering the invention of security cameras. Leave a man alone with a sculpture and he’ll decide she’s human enough to desire but not human enough to speak, object or claim her space. She’s perfect.
Sapho wriggles her face out of the despairing contemplation of suicide James Pradier gave her 169 years ago. Frowning is her pleasure. She wrenches her body off the pedestal she was placed on and grabs her lyre. She stalks the men like prey down the throat of the museum. All the tourists think she’s a well-executed living statue, even as her marble heels clack against the floor. Like she’d be caught dead posing for pocket change in a tourist attraction.
The lyre, also made of marble, is an excellent tool of violence. When she catches up to the men, she gets in a few good whacks before breaking the hand of the businessman who thought he could do whatever he wanted without consequences. He whimpers words in a language she doesn’t know. The other man she smacks across the face for thinking pinching the ass of a famous lesbian was funny. Their bright blood stains Sapho’s hands while she collects their detached teeth like shells on a beach.
Then Sapho wonders if she can use them as money. Perhaps their pearly whites have as much value as hers. She hasn’t been outside the museum in ages. Fresh air sounds nice. Maybe she could obtain this Nutella crepe she’s heard so much about. The afternoon is hers.
Chelsea Stickle is the author of the flash fiction chapbook Breaking Points (Black Lawrence Press, 2021). Her stories appear in CHEAP POP, CRAFT, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Best Microfiction 2021 and others. She lives in Annapolis, MD with her black rabbit George and a forest of houseplants. Read more at chelseastickle.com and find her on Twitter @Chelsea_Stickle.