The Strength of Cloth
Lace simply did not fit anywhere in her Maker’s atelier. She was a thing of warm, soft cotton. His workshop a thing of cold, hard metal. She was quiet and Still. His workshop loud and bustling. She was fragrant like the flower fields. His workshop like an oil field.
She had tried to fit in. Maker knows, she had tried. From the very day of her wakening she started assisting in her Maker's work of building great, complicated machines of steel and fire.
It didn't take very long for Lace to realize she just wasn't cut from that type of cloth. Despite her Maker's best efforts at repairs, she still bore the scorch marks and loose threads from her disastrous efforts.
It took much longer still for Lace to concede that machine work just was beyond her ken. For months and months she poured every ounce of her being into trying to understand her Maker's craft, to no avail.
Half the time she tried to help, she just ended up breaking things or getting caught in one of the spinning gizmos. It seemed to Lace that she was becoming that which a doll fears most; a hindrance.
On their darker days, her Maker would say it wasn’t her fault, but his. Wearing a haggard expression that tugged at her heart threads, he'd say he Made her wrong. Her Purpose hadn’t been properly instilled and now the only way she’d find it would be to seek it out herself. He could no longer give her Purpose.
The idea seemed sheer lunacy to the confused doll. He was her Maker. How could he have Made her wrong when he always worked with the utmost care? There’s no way he could make such a mistake, yet the signs were there if she looked for them.
Her very first memory was of his thick, calloused fingers fumbling with the needle as he finished that last stitch. They were covered in bandages. Why not give her the strength of the steel he favored, so she could be of use to him?
And so Lace searched everywhere she could where a doll of softness could find some use. Her teas were over-steeped. Her scones were like rocks. Her cleaning caused more mess than it solved. Her gardening left the plant life like her search, barren and fruitless.
It tore at her Maker, she could see. He was always quiet, reserved, and distant, but he seemed to withdraw all the more the further she dived into her search. His words flowed less smoothly in her presence. His voice hitched uncomfortably. He made mistakes.
Lace could bear it no longer. She had failed him. Her core cried a despondent note that tore at her very being. Her stuffing twisted and knotted. She could burden him no longer. There was but one answer. He could try again. After he Unmade her.
So it was that come nightfall, Lace crossed the threshold of his bedchamber, a room she dared not enter before. It was his sanctum; his solace from the world. Intruding in his domain… One more failure for the pile. At least it would be her last.
Then she saw him. Head hunched over his knees. Deep, shaking, wordless sobs rocking his body like sheet-hammered metal. Her Maker was… broken. Just like Lace.
She ran, crossing the space from door to bed so quickly, it could only be Magick. Finding herself on the bed, barely realizing how she got there, Lace did the only thing she could think to do. She hugged him. She hugged her Maker with all the steely strength she’d yearned for.
She could not carry his tools, but she could carry his burdens. She could not suffer the fires of his forge, but she could suffer the fires of his heart. She could not understand his craft, but she could understand his needs. She could be here, be present, be Still.
They stayed embraced like that what seemed an eternity; Lace never letting go. Never letting up. Never moving except to better comfort her Maker. For all the despair that he cried out in, she knew this was her place. This is why she’d been Made. This was her Purpose.
This story continues here.