I am commisioned by a wealthy opera singer to carve a marble sculpture of her own torso. Without shame, she disrobes, and I make preparatory drawings, noting the lines of her voluptuous curves and the weight of her voluminous tresses.
An enormous block of marble is duly delivered to the velvety chamber where I am to carry out my trade. Confidently I take up my mallet and chisel, and begin to rough out the statue.
Days pass, then weeks, and after a period of over two months I announce to my patron that the work is complete. She stares for some time at the fruit of my endeavours. Something is not right. I sense that she is displeased in some way. I shoo her from the chamber, order another block of marble, and begin again. I am enshrouded in dust, I work through the night, until my fingers are raw and my breath comes in harsh rasps.
Again, my employer is unaccountably dissatisfied. I continue to order marble, and continue to carve statue after statue, while the years pass. When, eventually, I create a marble likeness of the opera singer on her deathbed with my own wizened and arthritic fingers, she at last nods, smiles, and abandons herself to the relentless pull of eternal sleep. I place my chisels carefully on the floor, and lie next to her, placing my dusty hand in her cooling fingers.