The Finishing Touch

Daniel put the finishing touches on the tiny figurine. No bigger than his thumb, it bore every semblance of humanity. This one was a young boy, dressed for boarding school. He had a barely visible blush to his cheeks, as if he’d been running to make the bell and now stood, all propriety, hands behind his back, ready for lessons.

Daniel sniffed and wiped away a tear that hadn’t yet formed. He’d always wanted a child, but Jenny had died so young and he’d never had the heart to remarry. “Alan,” he whispered. The name let him pretend for a moment that the hole in his heart could be filled.

“I put pressure on you to go to Eton, but you became a Radley boy instead. I was proud you made your own choice. You hated your piano lessons until you loved them. You wish people didn’t call you Al. I will always love you.”

Something in the mixture—the intensity of emotion, the infinite care, the perfect detail—invested the shape with life. The figurine woke as Alan, memories, emotions, and all.

Daniel put Alan on his private shelf beside dozens more immobile figurines, each as carefully painted and intensely loved.

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