“Where’s a little boy like you off to all alone?” the old man in the cart asked. I’d been on the road for two days now. Sleeping on the ground took a little getting used to, but besides that, it wasn’t so bad.
“I’m not little. I’m ten,” I told him. Everyone thought I was younger because I was so small.
The man chuckled. “Ten heh? Even ten is young when you’re my age. So where is Mr. ten headed?”
He squinted at me. “Why do you want to go there?”
“To find my Maker of course.”
“I wouldn’t bother trying to find your Maker. It’s near to impossible. The only ones that are crazy enough to go in that misty place are those who aren’t, well, aren’t all there if you know what I mean.”
The man couldn’t see that I was incomplete. I wasn’t like Gracie. People saw right away that her Maker made a mistake. But it took a while for people to notice that I didn’t use my arm.
“I am incomplete sir. I can’t use this arm,” I said pointing to my right arm.
“Oh, well…. I thought there was nothing wrong with ya. I guess you’re one of the lucky ones eh? You don’t look incomplete.”
How could he say that being made with a mistake was lucky just because people couldn’t see it right away?
“Well, since you’re determined, I’ll give you a ride. I live right at the base of the mountain.”
After two days of walking, I’d give anything to sit for a while.
“Thank you sir,” I said as I pulled myself up with one hand. The man reached out for my other hand to help me, then pulled back.
“Oh, right,” he said, remembering that I couldn’t move my other arm.
“Have you seen anyone go in the mountain?” I asked once I was seated. “Since you live so close to it.”
“I have, and they come right back out. Well, the smart ones do. The others, well, they don’t come out at all.” He leaned down. “You see, there aren’t any animals on that strange misty mountain, and no animals means there’s nothing to hunt. Nothing to eat. If you don’t take enough food, and you get lost in all that mist, well, let’s just say you’ll be staying on that mountain forever, if you know what I mean.”
I was relieved that there weren’t animals. I wouldn’t have to worry about raccoons stealing my stuff at night or wolves or bears.
“I brought lots of food. I plan to stay up there as long as it takes for me to find my Maker,” I told him.
The old man chuckled. “Well, you’ll be up there a long time before you find one.”
“It will be worth it though. However long it takes,” I said.
The man shook his head. “I’ve lived at the bottom of that mountain many years, and not once have I seen anyone come down complete. They were just the same as when they went up.”
“Their Maker couldn’t fix them?” I was horrified to think that maybe some mistakes were even too great for a Maker to fix. Or worse, that Gracie was right and being left incomplete wasn’t an accident.
“They couldn’t find their Maker. Some found Makers, but not the one that made them. Others didn’t find anyone at all.” He shook his head. “It’s ridiculous, these Makers hiding in the mist of the mountain. Why can’t they come down and be like everyone else?”
“No one was fixed? Ever?”
“Well, there was that one woman.” He scratched his bristly chin. “She had a birthmark the size of a thumbprint on her cheek. It was the strangest thing. She was only in there a day and she came out with a clear cheek as a cloudless sky.”
“It is possible then,” I said, satisfied.
“It was just a birthmark. Nothing like that,” he said looking at my arm. “I think these Makers don’t want to be found. They don’t want to own to the fact that they make mistakes. They’d rather sit on their mountain pretending to be perfect.”
The man went on, but I was too busy daydreaming to hear him. I imagined what it felt like to clap and to lift things with both hands.
The next morning, we reached the base of the mountain.
“See you in a few months, if you’re lucky,” said the man, chuckling as he rode off.
The mountain loomed over me, its trees shrouded in mist. I took a few steps toward the path that lead in to the woods. Would I be able to find my way out? I stopped. Standing at the base, the fantasy that claimed my daydreams didn’t seem as possible as it did when I was sitting next to a cozy fire at home.
It wasn’t too late for me to turn around. I could go back home and forget the mountain and the Makers. I thought of the look mother would give me—that I-told-you-so look. I thought of Patrick taunting me for being too chicken to go into Mount Obscure. I thought of Gracie who couldn’t walk up the winding mountain trails. I thought of catching a ball in both hands.
I took a breath and stepped forward.
If you missed part 1, here it is.