And Lydia had never thought she could smile at that memory, yet she did today.
‘In fact there is nothing to buy—there is a waiting list so long that he could never complete it in his lifetime. People say that to see him work is to watch the sun being painted in the sky. All we have to do this evening is enjoy.’
‘You’ve never seen him work?’
But that changed today.
It was the great man himself who opened a large wooden door and let them in. The place was rather nondescript, with high ceilings and a stained cement floor, and in the middle was a large furnace.
Silvio wore filthy old jeans and a creased shirt and he was unshaven, yet there was an air of magnificence about him.
‘This is Lydia,’ Raul introduced her.
‘Welcome to Murano.’
‘She has been here before,’ Raul said. ‘Though the last time it was on a school trip.’
The old man smiled. ‘And did you bring home a souvenir?’
‘A vase.’ Lydia nodded. ‘It was for my mother.’
‘Did she like it?’
Lydia was about to give her usual smile and nod, but then she stood there remembering her mother’s air of disdain as she had opened the present.
‘She didn’t seem to appreciate it,’ Lydia admitted.
It had hurt a lot at the time.
All her savings and so much pain had gone into the purchase, and yet Valerie had turned up her nose.
But Silvio was looking out of the windows.
‘I had better get started. The light is getting low,’ he explained.
‘Too low to work?’ Lydia asked.
‘No, no...’ He smiled. ‘I do very few pieces in a fading light. They are my best, though. I will get some coffee.’
Silvio headed to a small kitchenette and Lydia wandered, her heels noisy on the concrete floor.
There was nothing to see, really, nor to indicate brilliance—nothing to pull her focus back from the past.
‘My mother hated that vase,’ Lydia told Raul as she wandered. ‘She ended up giving it to one of the staff as a gift.’ God, that had hurt at the time, but rather than bring down the mood Lydia shrugged. ‘At least it went to practical use rather than gathering dust.’
The coffee Silvio had made was not for his guests, Lydia quickly found out. He returned and placed a huge mug on the floor beside a large glass of water, and then she and Raul had the privilege of watching him work.
Molten glass was stretched and shaped and, with a combination of the most basic of tools and impossible skill, a human form emerged.
And then another.
It was mesmerising to watch—as if the rather drab surroundings had turned into a cathedral. The sun streamed in from the westerly windows and caught the thick ribbons of glass. And Lydia watched the alchemy as somehow Silvio formed two bodies, and then limbs emerged.
It was like witnessing creation.
Over and over Silvio twisted and drew out tiny slivers of glass—spinning hair, eyes, and shaping a slender waist. It was erotic too, watching as Silvio formed breasts and then shaped the curve of a buttock.
Nothing was held back. The male form was made with nothing left to the imagination, and the heat in her cheeks had little to do with the furnace that Silvio used to fire his tools and keep the statue fluid.
It was sensual, creative and simply art at its best. Faces formed and pliable heads were carefully moved, and the kiss that emerged was open-mouthed and so erotic that Lydia found her own tongue running over her lips as she remembered the blistering kisses she and Raul had shared.
It was like tasting Raul all over again and feeling the weight of his mouth on hers.
Lydia fought not to step closer, because she didn’t want to get in the way or distract Silvio, yet every minuscule detail that he drew from the liquid glass deserved attention. She watched the male form place a hand on the female form’s buttock and flushed as if Raul had just touched her there.
Raul was trying not to touch her.
It was such an intimate piece, and personal too, for it felt as if the energy that hummed between them had somehow been tapped.
And then Silvio merged the couple, pulling the feminine thigh around the male loin, arching the neck backwards, and Lydia was aware of the sound of her own pulse whooshing in her ears.
The erotic beauty was more subtle now, the anatomical details conjoined for ever and captured in glass. And then Silvio rolled another layer of molten glass over them, covering the conjoined beauty with a silken glass sheet.
Yet they all knew what lay beneath.
‘Now my signature...’ Silvio said, and Lydia felt as if she had been snapped from a trance.
He seared his name into the base, and smoothed it till it was embedded, and then it was for Raul and Lydia to admire the finished piece.