Etra spread his arms and pulled everything close. The mix of shapes tumbled over one another and he reviewed what he had made this week. There were many different pieces, some large and others barely noticeable. All were of his hand. Etra smiled. There was a profound beauty in the material he used, though many people would never notice. It took a lot of looking to see it. With the softer, more colourful pieces the building blocks were somewhat more self-evident, but even the most angular of pieces were made of the same rounded grains, finer than dust.

The versatile material gave Etra such endless ideas – many of which he pursued to production – that he truly deserved his fame as the greatest artist that ever lived. Indeed he was noted as the material’s inventor, and had many flocking to him to enquire about it. So far he had shared only some of the secret.

From his pile, Etra selected a small roundish piece and rolled it between his fingers, feeling its rough edges and darting his eyes between its many bubble-like craters. It was a piece he titled rock. Next he picked up a small cloud, a single ashy white piece. It was very light to hold.  And the name was perfect for the pieces in this series. Some were grey and anvil-shaped, others barely a film of streaks. This one was rather like a sheep. Etra wanted people to see the clouds, as there was one to please everyone’s eyes. Nevertheless, many of his works would not be seen by the world. Still he made them. He brought the cloud close to his nose.

“Art.” Etra said, with a satisfied sigh.

Such a simple word. He turned the piece over in his hands. It was full of technology, mixing different types of fine round grains and having properties to perplex and intrigue the scientific community. Art.

He held it a while longer, allowing his thoughts to drift to the places the piece would go after he sent it out. His work was already renowned worldwide, from bustling cities to the remotest pastoral hillside. Indeed the tiny clouds were some of the most popular. Etra placed this one back in the pile and surveyed the rest of the collection. It included a new batch of his microscale animated pieces, ready for distribution ahead of Christmas. Each one of those was particularly fine, crafted with careful attention and concentration. Such special pieces.

Some of the special pieces were destined for recipients on summertime beaches, some to wintery forests, and others across the equator where no bells jingled. Some were going to the Mediterranean, where sea pebbles crackled and the evenings were warm. Etra thought about his son, and leaned back. He remembered the days in the dust and heat, and the bright starry skies of the night. The only sounds they had enjoyed then were the dull goatbells and the occasional hoot of an owl. They were difficult times. But they had been Together, ever yet creating the art. It was no longer work. It was rest. And art. It was good. Life. Newness. A sense of the world changing, growing. The passing of things into time.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

My mouth is cavernous, and my hands anchors. In my fingers I feel a sprig of thyme, not there at all but a log nonetheless: Each finger a one-tonne sausage. How far is it to the corner of the ceiling? At least two hundred decibels, I say. Like the recurring childhood nightmare and mom’s soothing hushes blaring. How huge is the world, if it’s miles to the door? If people are shrunk and the floor breathes? My centre of gravity churns. Once, at dinner, my son asked me why I looked like I was next door. How are you doing that, Daddy? Smiling, not reeling, it was mild. And I feel the pitching as the volume sways.