What remains of Mark sits upstairs in storage.
Lying immobile on the floor with a black cloth covering his eyes, breath control engages. The mathematician struggles to arrest a persistent repetitive ankle flexion, only to find it quickly kicks back in after the shortest halt.
On a good day the math-man steps into a cold October dusk to forget his obsessions. He strolls slower than normal, startling himself. ‘When did I age?’ The enclosing wetland squeezes other worlds out, for here the creek, grasses, petrichor, birdsong, empty homeless camp, all exist without the intrusion of artificial light, exposing a celestial sky.
Lost in this cosmos, and with Hercules on the horizon signaling a pending departure into the Southern Sky, the mathematician resolves to retrieve Mark.
Mark resides along the math-man’s wall as an unfinished charcoal and oil on canvas, still staring over his shoulder.
The two first meet in a life drawing session. Making use of his remarkably formed stone-still figure, Mark immediately commands attention. That he is an experienced ballet dancer explains a lot. Scanning the circle, Mark’s gaze remains steady and off to his side. There is a super angulation and fascinating control, a hyper vigilance, even, in his pose. The math-man thinks as he flips his black mirror and red-cellophane grid about alternately, noetically examining the model while marking relative placements and proportions.
The stiff-lipped mathematician senses that the model may represent a mirror persona, and caves when a slow dance sequence of gestures transitioning one to another, communicates something more – engagement, even communality, directly to him. Mark’s urbane ballet identity pushes his muscling through a journey about personal collision with modernity, convenience, artificiality, and family constraint.
In that first studio they quickly connect, nod heads at break, toss about essential limits, reference triggers, and exchange contact. Mark whispers his travel plans north to an outdoor woods craft school and this teacher, mentor. Like Call of the wild, swift strokes slice across heavily toothed paper as a bird might swoop in to snatch essence. Control of the wild follows with fine delicate lines detailing intimacies and expression.
The dancer’s head lowers to scan his own sunken abdominal tapestry, then with clenched hands and torso in strain, he allegorically rips open his chest as if in cardiac surgery or a bear encounter, spilling his heart and gut below, and as mask transforms into grimace, a silent cry rings from the separating lips, followed only by a tear.
The math-man is astonished at the depth of this performance. He nods a sort of devotion and appreciation, admiring how Mark maneuvers his veil. Intimacy is so rare from the figure studio platform. The typical glance is oblique, and worse, drifting toward sleep. Witnessing such skill, the mathematician’s neural networks explode and feeling saturates. His mouth dry and swallow halted, he is briefly unable to draw. Interestingly, in following private sessions, Mark proposes that belief creates the world.
Son, brother. Parallel queries. Face-to-face, cross-legged. Passion kept at bay. Boundaries hide a livid side, and for good reasons. Tracks may make erratic paths. The math-man slowly loses composure, for he fears unknowns…and possibilities. Composure floods out and he mumbles this warning: ‘Don’t become the follower.’
‘Why caution me?’ Mark retorts, downcast and surprised. The Math-man stiffens. He is jealous of this…teacher. Mark’s trust freezes and crackles across the floor. Youth perceives possession. The Math-man’s gut knots. He oversteps and he knows it. The session ends shortly. Mark adjusts, advances plans, and departs. Twenty years go by.
From that storage room, the mathematician retrieves the canvas and remounts Mark onto easel to honor and complete.