I have no idea if this is showing on my Patreon yet or not. It was working fine and then NOPE! No worky for you! I'll update this later with a link to the original (or intended original) posting. My patreon can be found at www.patreon.com/amehana
Edit: The original posting can be found here. https://www.patreon.com/posts/short-story-very-3930155
I wrote this in honor of a Patreon that was pledging at astonishingly (to me) high levels. He'll be pleased to know that the obsidian orb he gave me much earlier was consulted often during the writing process. He's actually inspired two of the characters in this short. This will have another polishing pass later on but I wanted it out with how Christmas is approaching so fast.
A Very Cuckoo Christmas (this might be renamed, suggestions are welcome here or on the Patreon post)
Snow fell outside and piled in drifts. Children’s calls made their way into the toymaker’s workroom. In the grate the fire crackled, chasing away the chill that always threatened to settle into his bones. Steadily he tapped away at the block of wood before him, uncovering its treasure layer by layer. Up the street the painter worked magic on canvas, down the street the shoemaker crafted his miracles, and across the street the local witch plied her trade. His magic came forth in his toys.
Day in and day out he worked while winter passed. Still the snow fell like feathers from Mother Winter’s bed Children eagerly looked forward to his next masterpiece. Short ones and tall ones alike would stop in to check on how he was doing and if he needed anything. Sometimes they brought him mugs of hot cocoa, other times they brought soup or tea. If he had something extra he gave in return, and if he was at a good place he would take a break and enjoy the warm gifts they brought. “It is good to be a toymaker here,” he thought. “The children visit even when I have nothing to give, and even though sometimes the only way they get the toys is when their parents buy them.”
Suddenly the children stopped coming. Several days passed and he began to worry that they were all ill. He had many orders though and their deadlines were approaching swiftly, so he could not spare the time to go and inquire after each of the many children. Time passed further and he began to worry that he had been forgotten, or that he had inadvertently angered the village elders. Now his only companions were the toys he so diligently worked on and his clockwork cuckoo clock.
He worried so much that he made himself ill. The clockwork cuckoo grew worried when the toymaker did not come to work in the workshop the second day in a row, as he himself had always come like clockwork. That night she checked on him, found him still alive but even more heartsick, then flew up the chimney and out of his cottage.
The brave little cuckoo flew from house to house in the village, seeing everything. There were trees in every house decorated with ornaments and tinsel. Children slept tiredly in their beds, and in each child’s room various near completed projects. Some of these were messy but obviously fussed over greatly. Others held the promise that perhaps the tiny artisans might one day be good candidates for apprentices in her master’s shop. The adults had apparently been busy too with evidence of the makings of feasts. Saddened that her master had been forgotten during all of the holiday preparations she finally made her way back home.
On a whim she flew down the chimney of the witch’s house. She wasn’t sure why. She wasn’t sure why she was even able to move more than the carefully constructed movements of her clock. This was the first night she’d ever been able to.
Sitting by the fire was a woman about the same age as her master. Two cats shared the chair beside the fireplace, which she rocked gently back and forth. The black one wound his tail back and forth slowly, working some cat magic that only they knew. The white cat repeatedly tried to steal the tea the witch was so calmly sipping and then holding down to share. Perhaps this cat also was working magic by the strange smile haunting the witch’s face.
“I see you dropped in after all. I still have some cake crumbs, but I don’t have the fine oils your master uses to keep your copper-fire shine and the clarity of your chime.”
The cuckoo blinked and shook her feathers, eliciting the chime. “No thank you. I don’t understand.”
“Nor does he. Your master, tell me, is he well? I can’t go over unless invited.” The old woman blushed, a very odd thing for one of her age.
“He is not. He’s taken to bed.” It took a few moments to figure out, but the faithful clockwork did her best to approximate the words. Perhaps others might not understand, but the witch did.
“I thought so when I didn’t see him in his window. If you love your master you must make sure that when the door knocks, he answers. And perhaps visits me when he has time.”
“Yes ma’am.” The cuckoo answered with a waver.
The witch chuckled and shooed her away. “Go little one, before they decide they’d like to include you in their play. You’re free to visit again too. You’ll have questions.”
Confused but not particularly wanting to find out what happens when a cat plays with a bird the little cuckoo went back up the chimney and then back to her own home. On the little roost in her clock she sat the rest of the night to ponder. Dawn came, then later the village woke. The usual sounds of bustle followed after. Around midday the door knocked.
The toymaker did not stir out of bed. He’d not even gotten up for his breakfast. The knock came again after a little bit, louder this time. Still he did not rise. The cuckoo found herself flying to his room, surprised that she could still move. Making as much commotion as she could and confusing and startling the old man greatly she harranged him out of bed. She even stole his bedcover and managed to drag it to the workroom.
The very surprised toymaker opened his door at the third round of now frantic knocks and the cuckoo settled on his head, clutching his bedhead. There before him stood the children of the town, each with a gift for him. In the door of her cottage leaned the witch with her cats twining around her ankles, arms crossed and a very catlike smirk of her own.
“Merry Christmas Toymaker! We love you!” Chorused the children.
Original posting is found at: rainstardragon.dreamwidth.org.
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Copy/paste please, due to LJ constantly breaking the links.