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Persistence of Memory

Short story By: mrkam

A short and simple speculative work about the possible origins of one of Salvador Dali's most famous works.

Submitted:Sep 28, 2010    Reads: 76    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

The Persistence of Memory
Alone in his studio, Salvador Dali strode restlessly over to the canvas of the painting which he had bought earlier that day.As an artist himself, he often took joy in admiring other artists' paintings, other artists' passions and feelings displayed on the open canvas.And, as much as Dali enjoyed admiring other artists' paintings, he could rarely ever afford to buy them himself; but this painting…this was one which he felt as if he had to have.
The painting had seemed to speak to his him as he passed by it in the art gallery earlier that day.It hadn't appealed to his love for all things aesthetic, but instead had seemed to him as being, just…wrong.The painting had tortured Dali so much, that he had simply paid for it and walked off to his own studio to study the painting further.
So there it was, the unimportant "Stroking Midnight Black Cat" by SM Violano, known only to Salvador Dali as "The Intrusion Into My Peaceful Life" by A Masochist.And so Dali stood, fixed to one spot in front the painting, and stared.For minutes, and soon hours, Dali stood…simply staring.His mind was a whirlwind of thoughts colliding, blending, making no sense, and infuriating him all the more.
"Dali". The word seemed to come to him as a whisper on a wind - faint, and unobtrusive.The subtlety of the word was such that, after it had floated by, it almost seemed to Dali that he had never actually even heard it; but as he stared even more, he heard it a second time.The painting itself seemed to him more alive than ever before.The hands on the clock began to move."Dali".His own name echoed again, but this time with the smallest hint of urgency.He slowly reached out for the painting, as if the mere touch of the canvas itself would bring to light all that seemed to be hiding from him.Taking a step forward, Dali's outstretched hands made contact with, what should have been the canvas.Instead, Dali found himself touching the hard wood of the great grandfather clock.It was cold to the touch, and Dali suddenly realized what he was actually touching, and gave a great leap back in surprise.Afraid to go on, but driven forward by obsession, Dali reached again for the painting: grasping the edge of the frame this time from the inside, and hoisting the rest of his body up and through the frame.
Looking behind him, Dali glanced at the frame which he had just stepped through, and to his astonishment, saw that the painting which now stood bordered by the same frame was of his studio."Dali".The word seemed to come from the clocks themselves.Turning his attention from the new painting, Dali took several slow steps towards the now-manifested clocks from the painting."Dali".The name now sounding more insistent: almost a plea.
Dali reached the clocks and came a stand-still: the words now coming from directly in front of him.Faster, louder, pleadingly, "Dali…Dali".Dali was suddenly overcome with a desperation beyond his own comprehension.It was as if the clocks were projecting their own thoughts and feelings onto him.He could feel their anguish at being held captive for so long, to work laboriously day after day: restless and desperate to become something more.
Dali could take it no longer, and sprang into action.Swiftly, he reached for the clocks and pulled them from their cases of glass and wood.Taking them into his arms, he ran with them.Out of a nearby door, and onto the lawn behind the house, Dali ran!Running until his legs ached with the strain of his flight, Dali came to rest his by a single brown table in the middle of an open field of dirt overlooking a sea of glass.
Off to the distance he could see formidable cliff sides, reflected perfectly by the unmoving sea of glass. On the table in front of him, Dali could see a single, solitary tree mounted on the surface of the widespread brown table, save for one small branch jutting out from its side.Taking the clocks from under his arms, he placed one on the table's surface, and set one on the branch of the tree, balancing it just right, so that it wouldn't fall.He looked around for the last clock, and saw it resting on the ground in front of the table.He must've dropped it in his haste to get to…where was he? Dali stopped again to take in his surroundings.
The first thing that stood out was the silence.Irrepressible, unmistakable. Silence.A thin but persistent wind slowly curled its way over the edge of the table in front of him.Time itself seemed to have no meaning in this strange new place.Hours seemed to be minutes and minutes…days.Dali couldn't tell. He shook his head.The silence prevailed.Tick.The sound was sharp and intrusive: breaking Dali still further out of his reverie.Another tick.Looking around, Dali discovered the origin of the series of intrusions.The clocks.Another wisp of wind wound its way around and over the table: entirely like all other winds stroking the table's surface, but for one exception.That single, familiar name.Dali.But this time, the name no longer held had a sense of urgency to it.Rather, it seemed as if the word was one of relief, of joy, and of contentment.
The clocks.Seeming as they had always been: inanimate, unmoving, stiff.But no, something was different: something had changed.Watching the transformation with rapt attention, Dali stared on as the clocks, which once stood so rigidly, began to take change.It was as if the clocks were losing their grip with existence itself.Slowly, the clocks seemed to give in to the weight of the world around them: drooping their weight lazily across the tree, the ground, and the table in submission. Silence.
After sitting for a few more hours, Dali picked himself up, and walked resolutely towards the house in which the clocks had been confined to before.Stepping through the door, and towards the frame which housed the painting of his studio, Dali was overcome with a desire to release what he had seen to the world.Stepping through the frame, and into his studio, he glanced behind him at the painting: it was now an empty canvas.It had no more story to tell, for the art had already been released: understood.Dali looked around for his paintbrushes.Finding them, he selected one and began to brush out what he had seen: hoping that someone, somewhere, would be able to understand.


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