By Samuel M Johnston

The light seeps through the blinds, engulfing the studio in a harsh glow. My hands wrap around the sculpture, gliding down each curve, adjusting each scuff so it can be perfect. My work is almost complete. I glance to the side. The mirror reflects the sunken eyes of an artist trying desperately to hide their true self. But I need the reference, so I pay no attention to the sorry state I’m in.

I am the inspiration for him. And I will make him perfect.

The sunken eyes are gone. The cheekbones less prominent. The skin smoother. The muscles more defined. The light shines off its gorgeous complexion as I step back to admire my work. The mirror’s reality watches from a distance, a pale truth compared to a work that even the ancient Greeks would be proud of. He is flawless. My smile stretches across my face. A scream of laughter releasing the frustration of many days.

The doorbell rings, snapping me out of my victory. I march over to the door, swinging it open with force. Oh dear, it’s my neighbour, Georgie.

‘Are you okay, Peter? I heard some strange noises from down the hall,’ she said with a curious innocence while standing awkwardly holding her groceries.

‘I’m fine, Georgie. Just making art.’ I readjust my stance and lean against the door. 

She hovers for a moment, nodding her head. 

‘Would you like to see it?’ I blurt out. 

Georgie makes her way into the studio, mouth agape at the sculpture that stands tall before her.

‘Woah. That’s awesome, Peter! But I gotta say, your face doesn’t really fit the whole ancient statue vibe.’ She shrugs with a giggle. 

My eyes pierce through the back of her head. After all my work she doesn’t like it—I breath in. 

‘I’m sure if you wish hard enough you could be though.’ She laughs to herself and walks out the door with a wave. 

I bite my finger to hold back the rage. She doesn’t appreciate my work. How can she not? Look at this! I have been crafting this for months now, a replica of a human. But it is more than just a human. Humans have flaws that we cannot rid ourselves of. Cracks, scars, wrinkles, undesirable personalities. All traits that hold us back. This is the perfect human. Someone beyond our capabilities. I let go of my anger. She’s right. Damn it, she’s right. I’ve tried so hard to impress her, but I can’t. My creation could never find its true beauty with my face. I caress his cheek. My beauty. 

‘God, I wish you were real. I wish I was you. I wish she could see me like you,’ I whisper while I lower my hand, leaving him to stand proud under the dying light.


My mind races while I struggle to wake. In my dreams, I hold the sculpture in my hands, wrapping my arms around it as I sing a soft lullaby. It feels so real, I swear—CRASH. 

My heart stops at the sound echoing through the apartment. I rush to the studio, and my body drops to the floor. The statue is gone. Hundreds of pieces litter the ground. I sweep the floor, scooping the pieces into my hands and try to put them back together. Tears well in my eyes. I try to hold them back. But I can’t.

A bowl clangs in the kitchen, snapping me out of my state. I scamper to grab the golf club, leaning against the wall. I grip its handle so tight it imprints on my hands. Who the hell broke in here? 

I round the corner, club ready to swing.

The club falls to the ground. My mouth hangs open. A man sits at the marble bench, scooping the cereal out of the bowl with his bare hands. The light is dim, but I can make out his shape. His grey-stained arms slide in and out of the rays of street light seeping through the gaps in the closed blinds. Charcoal flakes fall from his hairline. I flick the light switch. The light blinds both of us. But as I take my hand away from my eyes, my heart beats faster. His cheek bones cast shadows that run down his body through his muscular definition. The lack of sunken eyes. Oh my god. His walk is also perfect. Each stride: graceful. The light reflects off his eyes while he stands before me. My sculpture. My perfect self.

‘What are you?’ I say. 

He stands there speechless, eyeing me up and down, searching for an answer.

‘I—I don’t know,’ he responds in a delicate tone. ‘Who am I?’ 

I stammer for an answer. I didn’t think I’d be choosing a name for a newly born sculpture.

‘Gale,’ I say with a smile. 

He walks over to the mirror that still stands beside where he was born. He begins repeating his name over and over again at his reflection. He turns back to me. I step back. His face strains, each end of his mouth twitching into a smile. I smile in return. I grab some clothes before anyone comes knocking and is shocked to see Gale’s existence. 

Now there’s two of me. I can probably use this to my advantage.


We establish some ground rules. Just simple things: no going out together, making sure one of us hides if someone comes over. It’s hard to explain why there’s two of you in the same place, so it’s easier if we act as one ‘Peter.’ 

Gale walks into the room dressed in a light pink suit with an open collar. I pat down the creases and guide him to the door.

‘Now when you go to this place, your name is Peter. Understand?’ I say to him slowly. ‘You’ll be me and just do what I do.’ I gesture to the door while Gale takes in his assignment.

‘And what will I do when I get there?’ He says, looking back at me.

‘Whatever everyone else is doing.’ I close the door. 

I’ve always been desperate to get out of work, and this just gives me the perfect opportunity. I watch through the blinds as Gale follows the directions on the note I gave him. Hopefully he doesn’t receive too many complaints. I’m sure he’ll be fine. 

I compose myself and return to my wardrobe, flicking through each jacket and shirt with rapid succession. I need something nice. I need something Georgie will like. I slip on my other pink suit, and I walk across the hall to her door. Three quick knocks, and she opens it, startled to see me.

‘Oh hey, Peter. What are you doing here?’ She says, throwing her garbage bags back inside.

‘I was wondering if you wanted to go out to dinner tonight. I—uh—got some time cleared up in my schedule if you were free.’ I try to smile, but I’m not sure if it looks forced or creepy. I’m sure she’ll say no because she’s already got plans—

‘Sure,’ she said with a soft smile. 

We figure out the details, and a few hours later, I greet her at her door, my better suit all ironed for her. She steps out in a long black dress; a woolly cardigan hangs off her shoulders, and her green eyes stare into mine. I’m not really sure what I should say to her. Best not to say anything stupid yet. I take her hand and check my watch; we should have about three hours before Gale returns. Man, I’m glad to have him around to take the work off my shoulders.


The night ends, and I walk Georgie to her apartment. She kisses me on the cheek. I wave her goodbye. 

I turn around and Gale is standing beside me. His eyes fixate on me. I jump back, and he catches me before I lose my balance.

‘Who was that?’ Gale looks back at the door.

‘No one. Just my neighbour. Why are you back so early?’ I turn him towards me.

‘I finished my tasks so I thought it would be best to return.’ He turns to the door again. 

I grab his hand and lead him to my apartment. I hear a door open behind me, and I shove Gale through my door. I turn around to see Georgie.

‘Did you say something, Peter?’ 

‘No. No. I just hit my arm on the door frame. It sucked pretty bad,’ I say through a panicked gaze. I fumble my way into my apartment and quickly wave goodbye again. 

I move to Gale, who has already sat himself down and disrobed.

‘What was that?’ I stare at him. 

He glances up at me.

‘I finished work early. That’s all.’ 

‘We can’t be seen together. You know that.’

‘I wasn’t expecting you to be on a date either, Peter. She’s very pretty.’ 

We leave it there and don’t speak for the rest of the night. I know it wasn’t his fault he came home early, but I wasn’t prepared for it. I apologised later that night. 


Later that week, I receive a text from work. A thank you message for the amazing work I did. I grab Gale and show him. It says my attitude has been such an improvement I’m getting a raise. Gale pats me on the back. He knows how good a job he’s been doing. Even as I get up to leave, he stops me and tells me he’s got it now. It’s quite liberating, in a way. I have more time for everything. Yet, he does this all for me, and I do nothing for him.

I sit down at my studio. The lone stool stands among the emptiness; the rubble of Gale’s birth lies below. I set the mirror up next to the stool. I sit for a long time, pondering. If I created Gale…what if I can do it again? I grab my tools and start carving away at a new block of stone. I start with the face. Each chisel hit is precise along the sides where the cheekbones are. Next is the neck, slender this time. The features won’t be as intense as Gale. This is not supposed to be him again, but something more. Time passes by as I get further down the body. I can see it. I can see who they will become, and I am excited. Gale will be excited. The keys jangle outside. The door creaks open. I throw a tarp over the statue to not ruin his surprise. He flicks on the light and stares at me, holding the tarp over half the statue.

‘What are you doing?’ He said, tilting his head to the side.

‘Nothing. Just a secret project.’ He nods slowly. Unconvinced, he leaves me alone for the night. 

I fix the last edges of the tarp before turning around. He’s gone. I think he’s gone. It doesn’t feel right. I shouldn’t keep this from him. I look at the figure hiding in plain sight. But how can I explain this to him?


There’s a look in Gale’s eyes, a hollow emptiness I can’t explain. I feel bad when I leave him to spend time with Georgie as I think he doesn’t know what to do when I’m not around. I lift him off the couch and hold his shoulders. 

‘You need to get out more, Gale. Come on, let me handle work today.’ I pat him on the back, and he smiles. 

It has been a while since I have gone to work, but surely I haven’t lost my touch.

People keep strolling up to greet me as I walk through the door. They have cheerful smiles and stern handshakes. People I have never met before, but they’ve all met ‘me’. I sit down at my desk and shoo them away. They respond with disappointed looks and whispers to each other. They gossip about my demeanour and how I was much nicer before today, and I must have been dumped or something along those lines. Luckily for me, things are going well with Georgie, so I didn’t let their rumours get to me. 

The hours pass. A stern figure appears behind me, and I turn around to see the boss with displeasure written over his face. He sits down and discusses my performance review. I’m over-performing. The best anyone has ever seen, and he was disappointed I was slipping today. But I’m just working as normal. I lean back in my chair. I’m the best I’ve ever been now. I told Gale what to do. I told him to follow what everyone else did. He’s done more than I ever did because he’s made to be better.

My mind is lost in thought. As I wander down the street, all I can think of is work wanting Gale more than me. My co-workers wanting him more than me. Even though he is me. Is he really that much better?

 I pass through the plaza where all the restaurants are. I check my watch again: 8.30 P.M. I can probably ask Georgie if she wants to go out for dinner. That’ll make up for this bad day. I glance over to the closest restaurant and stop. There in the window I see Gale.

With Georgie.

My heart races. My body freezes. I can’t go over there. Not while he’s there. Gale notices me, smile building. Don’t. I shake my head. He leans in and kisses her, one eye fixed on me. I collapse onto the footpath. I’m holding back the vomit. No. No. No. He can’t become me. He can’t take over my life. 

I pull myself up and start moving backwards. He knows something is wrong. Gale stands up from his table and begins to make his way to the door. His pace is getting faster. I run.


I burst into my apartment and towards the unfinished statue. Gale storms in moments later.

‘What the hell was that? Huh? You want to explain?’ I scream at the top of my lungs. Tears welling up.

‘Come on, Peter. You were busy and she asked you out. We couldn’t just ignore her.’

I look around in disbelief.

‘We? There is no we in this. This is my relationship. Not yours.’ The tears break through.

‘I deserve more than just being your work replacement, Peter. You know what everyone kept telling me? “Wow, Pete, I never knew you were this nice. You are so much more fun than you were before. What happened?” That’s what they’re saying about you.’ His voice gets louder as he points at the statue. ‘And you were just sitting here building another one of us. To replace me as well.’ 

I throw my hands up in disbelief.

‘No. No I wasn’t going to replace you, Gale.’ I pull the tarp off. The smooth stone body of a beautiful woman poses proud under the light. ‘I was making someone just for you.’

Gale halts. He’s speechless. 

The silence is unbreakable. 

‘I—I didn’t know, Pete. If I had of known, I wouldn’t have—.’ 

I walk over to the statue and place my hand on the back of it.

‘It doesn’t matter now. You’ve stolen the one person I cared about. I can’t forgive you for that.’ I give her a push.

She shatters.

Gale screams. His voice sends cracks through his stone neck as he kneels beside the rubble and weeps. He tries to scoop the pieces up. His eyes lock on me. 

I run to grab my golf club, but he tackles me to the ground. His grip tightens with each slam of my body against the floor. The shattered remains of my next piece dig into my skin. Each piece of white stone oozes red with blood. I try striking his stony arms to break free. But it is no use. I refuse to let you be better than me. That damn statue

‘Damn bastard. You don’t get to replace me and have a happy ending.’ I cough as he hits me with a piece of stone.

‘No one will miss you, Peter,’ He whispers in my ear.

I gasp harder. 

‘In fact, no one will know you’re gone.’ His teary eyes shine in the light. ‘Because I am you.’ 

He crushes my neck. The light is fading from my eyes. I keep swinging my arms but, they’re not hitting anything. I can’t feel anything anymore. Yet I still breath.

Gale grabs my leg and drags me to the wardrobe, folding me up neatly inside. 

Knock. Knock. Knock. 

He turns to me, holding his finger over his mouth and winking. He closes the door but leaves it open enough for me to see. Georgie walks in and hugs Gale.

‘Are you okay? You took off so suddenly,’ she said, looking into his eyes.

‘I’m okay. There was an intruder, he ran off, but he broke my statue.’ 

She hugs him tighter.

‘As long as you’re okay, Peter.’ 

He smiles at the sound of my name.

‘I’m more than okay. I’m doing much better now that you’re here.’ 

He looks me in the eyes through the shadows of the wardrobe. I try to scream, but nothing happens. I try to move, but nothing happens. Gale leans in and kisses Georgie. My heart skips a beat. My eyes widen, and I can see it. I can see me. A better me. A perfect me that I can never be. The reason for Gale’s existence.

Just like I wanted.  

My heart slows down. My body slumps over on the wardrobe floor. They continue talking. Laughing. Georgie’s hands wrapping around his body while his hands slide down to her waist. They’re perfect for one another. I succeeded. If I could smile right now, I would.

But all I can do now, is fade away.






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