The office is cool. Immaculate. Cool greys marked by punches of rich color.
His desk, a deep mahogany. Sturdy. Solid. Reliable. Just like him.
I loved this office. From my vantage point in his high-rise, I can see for miles. Each structure in the city a masterpiece of his design. A majestic scene of order and beauty colliding . . . and yet . . . not colliding at all. His plans are always perfect.
I don’t remember the day I came here. It’s as though life simply didn’t exist until he opened the drawer in which I was safely tucked away, and pulled me into the light. In those days, I was nothing more than a stark white sheet of potential.
Life began the day he chose me.
As I sat patiently, expectantly on the warm mahogany. His clear, bright eyes sparkled. They shone with expectation, knowing every stroke, every grand design he would create. I was to be his work, bearing his perfect design. And I couldn’t wait.
At first I thought that our time together would be short, maybe a few hours at best. He was the perfect architect. He had already created the most majestic city in the world. What was one more plan? Just one more creation? Why would he take time with ME?
I knew we were in for the long haul from the first day. For hours, he simply looked at me. His deep thoughtful gaze penetrating the fiber of my being. Fear initially squeezed my heart. What if he didn’t find me worthy? What if I was too marred? Not perfect enough to bear his name?
Soon, the rhythm of our time together gently pushed that fear away. I learned that sometimes he was simply quiet, pondering. Sometimes he scribbled, line after line, drawing on me with passion and fervor. My favorite times were when he was hard at work, painstakingly measuring, making sure every stroke was perfect. I love perfection. I love beauty. And I loved bearing the weight of his master plan.
I never could see the design he created on me. But every day I was privy to the grandeur of all his designs by day and by night. The cityscape sparkled like stardust sprinkled over the inky sky. By day break, his lofty towers gleamed as the sun rays buffed the steel to gleaming perfection.
I knew if he had drawn something even half half as majestic on me, my life would be more than complete.
Fear was gone now. Just confidence. Trust. Hope. Excitement. Expectation.
And most of all, love. I grew to love the architect with every every hour we spent, every stroke he commanded, every view of his creation.
Those days weren’t simply good. I was good. The architect was good. And everything around me was good.
One particular morning started as normal. The nutty aroma of his coffee compulsively swirling, filling the office. The sun streaming through the deep yellow curtains. It was a buttery, golden day.
He worked on me scrupulously. At times taking breaks to pace his office, or stare at his city below, somehow lost in his thoughts.
That day was just like any other day.
How could I have known?
As the dusk tucked the sun in for the night, the architect slowly rose from his chair, and traced with his fingers each line he had meticulously drawn on my canvas, willing each stroke into memory.
He picked me up, and I savored the feel of his hands. Then, as if my world were suddenly in slow motion, he began folding me. Crushing me. His hands a vice grip, crumpling my very spirit into a tiny ball, then catapulting me to . . .
. . . the trash.
And just like that, my world was over.
At first I was shocked, and refused to believe the architect would abandon me. Though torn on the outside, my spirit refused to question the goodness of the architect. I knew he would quickly change his mind, and pick me back up. Why would he have spent so much time on my design if the TRASHCAN was my destiny?!
When would he remember he wasn’t done with me? I knew he would. But WHEN?
The clock ticked.
Tock. Tock. Tock.
My trust weakened. What had gone wrong? Perhaps I was never good enough after all? Perhaps HE was not good enough? Of course, he was the perfect architect. But I didn’t just want him to be an architect. I need him to be a friend. Was he a GOOD friend? Was he good?
Each day I watched him at his desk from afar. The day after he threw me out, he took out another sheet of paper and began a beautiful design. I could see it. It was gorgeous.
How I longed to be that sheet of paper under his warm hands yet again.
On particularly good days, I pretended I was that canvas, receiving his attention, his design and purpose. Sometimes pretending is the only thing that got me through the day.
Some days I felt the remnants of his work, marred, smudged and illegible. I tried to remember what it looked like. What it felt like. But each day made it harder to remember the design I once lived for.
On bad days, I hid my eyes entirely. Refused to look at him, or his work. All I could see were the four corners of the cool blue jail I found myself in. I hated my jail. I was alone.
Eventually, I realized there were other half-done designs trapped in this same jail. I had been sure I was the only one he had abandoned. And yet one day, I just noticed that all around me were these crumpled half-designs of his. They had gone before me. All of my days on the desk, and I never knew these new friends existed.
The reason I could even see the architect was because they filled in the spaces of our new jail, lifting me up and supporting me. They couldn’t always see him from their vantage point — but nonetheless, they turned my eyes to him.
I could make out some of his work on my new friends. His designs, though smudged and incomplete, always imprinted on the soul.
I thought those were the worst days.
I was wrong.
Some things don’t change. Death. Taxes. And taking out the trash.
A kind-looking man with a pudgy middle picked up our ” little jail” late one night. We were jolted awake by the feeling of tumbling and falling, crashing into each other, and crashing into his squeaky can-on-wheels.
My heart sank with sickening finality. My master truly was done with my plan. My master was done with ME. And life would never be the same.
We were transferred from bin to bin, truck to truck, for days . . . until the day we simply became undone.
To say that process of shredding, drowning, pulverizing merely hurt would be like saying being eaten by a shark merely tickled. Hurt does not begin to describe it.
I lost myself in that place. There was no shred of evidence that his plan ever existed. My life felt scattered, incoherent. I was pushed, prodded, molded. There is no fighting this undoing. No escaping it. All I could do was surrender all, and hope that somehow, by some miracle, I could make it through.
Just make it through, I thought. Just make it through.
I had gotten so used to the pain, I forgot what it felt like to be without it. I was so used to the dark and grimy, I couldn’t quite remember warmth and peace.
Much like the day I was first pulled from the drawer, I didn’t really know what had become of me until the day the architect picked me up again. I don’t know how I got back to his office. I don’t know how long I was gone. I was just in a fog of pain and loss, nothing really mattered.
But the architect — my architect — did indeed pick me up once more. I felt the warmth of his hands embrace me on every hard, angled side, holding my gleaming yellow exterior over his work. And then he drew. Stroke after loving stroke, he used me to create his next magnificent plan.
I no longer just bore his plan. I was now the tool he used to design his greatest masterpieces.
In the day I of my worst agony, all of my old half-finished friends had been there too. We were all enmeshed, fibers from each of us molded and shaped into this pencil, his perfect tool.
I had not been undone. I had simply been redone. As always, according to his perfect plan.
Every once in a while, I felt the sharp pain as he molded and sharpened me, making me exactly what he needed. But he always held me tight when the pain came. I could take anything, as long as I was in his hands.
At the end of the day, I tensed up. What if he is done with me again? What if I have to go through this all again? My fears felt real. But they were just shadows of the past. “I must entrust myself to his hand,” I scolded my heart. “Be still. Just trust.”
The sun was tucked in for the night. The curtains closed. The coffee stale.
His hands picked me up once again, and I hoped to be safely hidden in the dark drawer until the morning. Instead, he brought me right to his chest, and tucked me into his shirt pocket.
Right by his heart.
Right where he wanted me all along.
And right where I will always stay.
Post Script. I suppose you are wondering about his grand design? The one first smudged, then lost forever? I often wondered about that too. But recently I overheard him share with his friends that he had already built the amazing design he first created on me. He built it in another part of the city, a place we haven’t gone yet. But he promised that one day, we’d go together. And I simply. Can’t. Wait.
Dedicated to Olivia Joy Lewis, Baby Lews, and Mya Elise Wilson.