The toymaker sat back from his work. The fruit of his labour, that which all of his tireless effort had been focused to produce, lay before him. He did not know why he’d built such a thing: why he, a humble businessman, had been called to craft such a wonder. The inspiration had struck him without warning, without apparent cause, without a parent thought: it had jumped fully formed into his mind, a form, a function.
It was truly a wondrous work, he thought. Of all his constructions, even those he applied weeks of labour to, never quite matched the vision he had in mind. They always had some deviation or flaw, but not this. No, this work was truly perfect. A simple toy, a simple, marvellous toy. The children would enjoy it – that he knew with certainty. And in its perfection, he also knew, it gained a certain new quality. Something additional: a reward, a gift, exactly what it was didn’t matter. But he knew, again he knew with satisfaction that it was there, this extension of the plaything, this quality, that the children he lived to entertain would enjoy.
The toymaker reflected upon all of his other work. His petty manufactures, it occurred to him, became only the background of his career – no, his life – compared to this. Well, not quite. This was certainly a quaint piece, far more interesting than his other, mundane constructions, but hardly so important. A simple doll could not be the greatest accomplishment of his forty-so years – could it?
He stopped. These thoughts were not his. It was… it was as if someone was influencing him, influencing his thoughts so directly. Perhaps the doll… but no. No, he was getting away from himself. The clarity struck him: his life to now had been worthless. It seemed such a simple explanation. This doll, this doll was truly an amazement, so much so that-
His ramblingly ponderous thoughts were cut short by a violent coughing fit. He was ill. He’d been ill since this whole affair had started, but that didn’t matter. He was going to die of course, but everyone dies, and a peasant’s life is shorter than anyone else’s – what could one expect? He’d finished it, and now it existed, so petty mortality and the trivial matter of death ceased being of much consequence. He began to life, but the coughing overcame him again.
There was a knock at the door. He turned, and slowly rose from the chair in his studio. He grabbed his cane and hobbled towards the door, a grin starting on his face. In such a situation, one falls back on old superstitions. As such, you can imagine the man’s surprise when he opened the front door of his shop expecting some black-cloaked, decayed thing: or, at least, some form of intimidating, grandiose entity.
“Hello!” said the brightly dressed man through his permanent smile. He was certainly vibrant, wearing a semi-tasteful combination of all forms of colour. His violet cloak billowed behind him in the wind.
The toymaker stared. Though it was night, the stranger at his door glowed with a certain ethereal luminescence. His presence drew the eye, creating a rather jarring effect in the dark.
“May I come in?” the stranger grinned through his closed teeth. The toymaker, through a compulsion that was all too familiar, nodded. To his credit, the man entered with some grandeur: all of his colours certainly created some drama. The stranger stepped in, looking around the toy shop; then, with purpose, he walked into the workshop. The toymaker followed, silently. He felt the illness now. It left him weak, weary. Now that his work was finally done, he realised, there was nothing left to distract him from his ailment.
The peculiar man wasted no time. He lifted an aqua coloured sack and reached for the doll with thick, magenta gloves, quickly throwing it in. He turned to the toymaker, who stood pathetically trying to cry out. The colourful man stopped and tilted his head, smiling with yellowed teeth.
“It’s good to see you’ve finished it! Don’t worry – even though it’s my first time, I think I know what I’m doing! Thanks for all your help!” He smiled again, before turning to leave. The toymaker, with one last convulsion of energy, reached out a hand to stop him. The man looked down, gripped the toymaker’s hand and slowly raised his head, smiling.