My left arm dangled by my side like a broken toy. I hadn’t been able to move it for as long as I can remember. While all the other boys played catch and wrestled in the school yard, I stood to the sidelines and watched. Two small girls stood across from each other playing a hand game. Their arms crisscrossed and their palms touched and pulled away in rhythm. I looked at my right arm hanging limply by my side. I couldn’t even play such a simple girl’s game.
“Hey Mark! Catch!” A ball the size of a cantaloupe came at my head. I reached with my good arm and my fingers curled to grab the ball, but it was too big to be caught with one hand. My small fingers wouldn’t wrap all the way around and it slipped from my grasp.
“You’re supposed to use both hands,” said the red-haired boy, Patrick, who threw it. “Oh yeah. You can’t.” He laughed and so did the boys around him. I scowled at him but there wasn’t much else I could do. Patrick was ten like me, but he was a good twenty pounds heavier then I was. That was another thing my Maker forgot when making me. Strength. I was the shortest, scrawniest boy in the village.
Luckily the bell rang to signal recess was over, so I didn’t have to endure anymore laughing. We filed into the school house and each age group sat in their own row—the older children at the back and the younger ones in the front. I slipped into my seat on the fifth row and watched as the nine-year-olds took their seat in the row in front of me. Last to make it to their seat was a blue-eyed girl with snow-blonde hair and fair skin. Gracie. She was the only other child in the village who was incomplete like me. One of her legs was left small and twisted, and she had to use a crutch to get around.
Teacher, a young woman with mousy blond hair, hushed the talking children.
“We are going to spend a few moments discussing Makers.” The class fell silent immediately. I sat forward in my seat. “First, who can tell me what a Maker does?” Teacher looked around the room as hands shot up. She pointed at one of the younger children on the first row. It was an easy question, so it made since that she would let a younger child answer.
“A Maker made us,” said the little girl.
“That’s right,” said Teacher, nodding, “and do all of us come from Makers?” The little girl nodded.
“Every single one of us comes from a Maker,” teacher said looking around the room. “The Makers decide what color eyes we should have and how tall we should grow. “
A boy in the row of seven year olds raised his hand and Teacher nodded for him to speak. “How do they make us?” he asked, “How do they know how to do it?”
“That is something we will never know. What they do is so complicated that none of us could ever understand it. That’s why there are very few Makers. They have great knowledge and skill.”
“I thought that the Makers use magic to make people,” said another little boy. “Raise your hand before speaking,” reminded Teacher. “They may use magic. The truth is, no one really knows how it’s done because no one has seen it. In fact, very few people have ever seen a Maker at all. Can anyone tell me why that is?”
I raised my hand.
“Because they live in Mount Obscure,” I said.
“They do. And Mount Obscure is covered in dense forests and always shrouded mist. It is very difficult to navigate. Most that go never find their way back out. And those that are lucky enough to come out, never do find a Maker.”
“Why would anyone want to find a Maker?” asked one child. “They’re already made.”
“Unless you’re Mark,” snickered Patrick. “Or Gracie,” said another.
Teacher scowled. “It is rude to mention someone’s incompleteness. It isn’t their fault that their Maker made an error. As wise as the Makers are, even they make mistakes.”
“Whoever made Mark made a really big mistake,” Patrick muttered to his friends who snickered. “What was that?” asked Teacher. “Do you have something to share with the class?”
He shook his head, and Teacher turned to answer the child who asked why people would try to find a Maker. “The only ones who would go to Mount Obscure are those who are incomplete and hope to find their Maker so they can be fixed.”
I raised my hand and Teacher nodded to me. “Can a person be fixed by any Maker even if it isn’t the same Maker who created them?”
Teacher looked sympathetic. “I’m afraid not. Only the Maker who made the person could fix their incompleteness.”
I knew that. I’d heard it before from my parents, but I was hoping Teacher would know of someone whose incompleteness was fixed by another Maker besides their own. No one knows how many makers there were on Mount Obscure, but the chances of me finding the one Maker that was mine was impossible. Still, I knew that one day I would go to Mount Obscure, and no matter how impossible it was, I would find my Maker. I spent the rest of class daydreaming about traveling through Mount Obscure and having my arm fixed. Everyone would be amazed when I came back to the village. I’d made it out of Mount Obscure, I’d seen a real Maker, and I could throw a ball with my right arm.
Teacher dismissed us and we scrambled outside. I was still reveling in my daydream when Patrick walked by Gracie and kicked the crutch from beneath her. Gracie toppled to the ground.
“Incomplete,” he said as he and his friends ran off laughing.
The other children rushed passed Gracie like she wasn’t there. I offered her my hand. She looked up with watery eyes and took it.
“Thanks,” she said, wiping the tears on the back of her sleeve. I picked up her crutch and handed it to her.
“One day we’ll go to Mount Obscure and then no one will call us incomplete again,” I told her.
She gave me a half smile. “I don’t think I could make it. Too much walking.” I wished that I could tell her I would carry her, but one arm couldn’t lift her.
We started walking and I slowed my pace to match her hobble.
“You think that it’s possible then?” she asked.
“To find the Maker that’s yours out of all the other Makers on the mountain.”
She looked at the ground and concentrated on taking steps. “I think it would take a very long time.”
“I don’t care how long it takes. If there is someone on that mountain that can fix this,” I pointed to my useless arm, “then I’m going to find him. I’ll go through every single Maker on that mountain if I have to.”
“What if your Maker doesn’t want to fix your arm?”
The thought had never occurred to me. The biggest challenge was finding the one who left me incomplete. I never thought that he might not want to fix me. “Why wouldn’t he want to? It was his mistake. Why wouldn’t he fix it?”
Gracie shrugged the shoulder that didn’t have a crutch under it. “It just doesn’t make sense that someone so smart and magical like a Maker would make a mistake.”
“But they did. Just look at my arm and your leg.”
“Maybe it wasn’t a mistake,” Gracie said quietly.
“You think they did this to us on purpose?” I couldn’t imagine my Maker choosing to leave my arm dangling by my side.
“Maybe they thought we were a little stronger than the rest.”
I looked at my limp arm, then at my other arm. Both were scrawny. I wasn’t stronger than anyone.
“How is being incomplete stronger?” I asked.
“My limp leg or your arm isn’t what makes us stronger silly,” she giggled. “I mean, we’re strong enough to handle not having what everyone else has.”
“So you don’t want your Maker to fix you?” I asked as we reached her house.
She laughed. “Of course I do,” she shrugged her shoulder. “But maybe we were made this way for some reason.”
“Like what?” I couldn’t see a reason for being left incomplete.
“I don’t know. The Makers are a lot smarter than us. I’m sure they know what they’re doing.”
She waved and stepped into her house. I didn’t see a reason for her limp leg or my dangling arm. The Makers wouldn’t be so cruel.
I was quiet at dinner that night. I was going over my plan. I knew better than to tell my parents. They always got upset when I told them that I wanted to go to Mount Obscure. I was too young and small, and it was impossible to find the Maker that created me out of all the Makers on that huge mountain anyway. That’s what they thought, but I didn’t care how young and small I was or how impossible it was. They didn’t know what it was like to have something missing. They were complete.
When night came I went to my room, but I didn’t go to sleep. I threw my clothes into a knapsack, then I took one of my school books and flipped it to the page that had a map to Mount Obscure. I ripped it out, folded it, and put it in my pocket. Then I shoved the knapsack under my bed and slid under the covers still fully dressed.
I laid there with a big grin on my face waiting for the house to be quiet so I could sneak out. I would prove to everyone that I could do it. I would come back with tales of Mount Obscure and the Makers I’d met. Most importantly, I would come back complete.
If you want to skip ahead, here are the rest of the parts: