“Concentrate Cris! For goodness sake!”
Concentration, that’s the only word Master Frac has in mind. She understands it, she’s spent her life concentrating. She’s always wanted to be here. She’s always wanted to work with him. But sometimes it’s frustrating. She’s known how to handle glass since she was a girl. She learned at the feet of her father who has always been the hardest master she knew. Until Master Frac.
He’s having her up an hour earlier than her father to start the kilns. She doesn’t mind it; what she minds is his hovering around her, as if he were afraid she might break the glass and waste it. She knows not to waste the precious pink powder that will give a line of colour to the side of the vase. She doesn’t like vases, they’re boring. She’d rather do something more creative and fun. But not with the pink glass. Master Frac will have her hide if she doesn’t work it properly into the mix.
“Blow it! Cris! Blow it!”
She tries not to chuckle as she blows into the pipe. Master Frac has no clue that he shouldn’t be saying this to a girl. It’s untoward. Well it would be if it wasn’t him. She knows Master Frac doesn’t have her in his mind… she has him in hers sometimes though.
“Cris! Concentrate. Girl what am I going to do with you?”
Concentration, she can concentrate. But it’s hard with him standing right next to her. It’s not only that he’s controlling what she does, it’s that his scent fills her nostrils and she wonders what it would feel like to bury her nose into his neck and breathe in that scent so deeply there’s nothing left. He smells of fire and glass. She can smell it from here. And it’s all she loves. She wonders what it would feel like to have his scarred strong arms around her. And it takes all she’s got to not let him know that.
Eventually she breaks the glass from the pipe and lets the vase to cool down. She’s sweaty, the hair that has escaped her pony tail stick to her face.
“I guess we’ll see if that worked.” Master Frac says, a hint of disbelief in his tone.
She knows not to sulk but he hasn’t given her the chance to show him what she does best yet.
“I’ll see you tomorrow Cris. I let you clean it all.”
Of course he does. That’s what apprentices are for. When he leaves, she’s left to her own device. She cleans up; she knows better. Master Frac will come later to check that she has. But then she places some of her own mix in the kiln.
After a while, she gathers the mix and starts creating something. Concentration doesn’t really encompass her state of mind. It’s more like she’s no longer in her mind; she’s part of the powder, part of the kiln, part of the pincers and glass. She sees what she wants to create, she becomes it. She always has. She blows a slight bubble of air into the glass and starts turning turning until it takes shape. She visualizes it and she turns and turns. Time passes, like grains of sand dropping into an hourglass. She releases her creation next to the vase and locks the door. Pushing strands of hair off her face, she turns and shrieks.
“Master Frac, you scared me.” He’s standing right there, way too close, towering over her. He’s got a smile on his face and a proud gleam in his eyes.
“Good. That was concentration. You were so focused you didn’t even hear me. Why can’t you do it when I’m here?”
That’s a loaded question, one she’s not sure she wants to answer. She looks up to him… And whatever he reads in her face, it makes him smile wider. Another type of gleam in his eyes now. Maybe she won’t have to answer after all.