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Linen

Stripped to the waist, the man bent over the ironing board, its pink cover comical next to his towering bulk; but he was lost in his task and had no time for embarrassment. It was a clear morning and the first rays of sun revealed themselves in the iron's steam - folds of light, straight and sure, beholden for illumination to the meandering rolls of vapour. The man worked on, oblivious to the explosions of steam mingling with the light - the geometric communing with the fractal. His eyes remained fixed on the sighing iron as it glided up the aisles of his shirt; the trinity of weight, heat and water smoothing the creases in the white linen. He worked slowly, endlessly returning to spots that were not perfect. The iron felt strange in his large calloused hand. He longed for the familiar weight of his chisel and the gnarled surfaces of wood. He understood them - their limits and their possibilities. In contrast, the soft linen felt infinitely fragile in his hands. Yet he knew he must work with it. The rules were different from his workshop - no cutting, no sharpness; he must cajole the soft folds into shape. Despite his inexperience, the garment hung in limp surrender, arms draped either side of the board - as though it realised no one would ever care as much as him. He took his time and he did not burn it.

Awkward and proud he wore it for the first time that day - unblemished - his wedding shirt.

Story by:

Alex Colchester

15 August 2012

Twitter @AlexColchester