The fog wasn’t as bad as I thought. I could see for yards ahead. I was so intent on a large shape I saw through the thick grey that I tripped on a tree root. The narrow path was filled with them. Gracie wouldn’t be able to make it. The shadow couldn’t be a house already. I’d only spent a night in the mountain.
I came closer and saw that it was a little log cabin. I hurried to the door, careful not to trip on anymore roots, and knocked. I was about to see my first Maker!
A tall man with hair slicked back and perfectly straight white teeth opened the door. I stared, open mouthed. For all my planning, I never thought of what to say once I found a Maker.
“I suppose you are looking for a Maker?” he said. I nodded. “I just happen to be one.” He winked. “Come in.” I stepped into a room lined with shelves filled with glass bottles. The bottles contained all different colors of liquid. I wondered if they were bottles of magic.
“I must warn you that only your Maker can fix your incompleteness,” said the man, “That is why you’re here isn’t it?”
“Yes sir. And I know that only my Maker can fix me,” I told him. “Are you my Maker?”
“Let me see,” he said, studying me. “I make so many, it’s hard to remember them all.” He walked around me. “Why don’t you tell me why you’re here while I’m trying to remember?”
“I’m kind of small and I was hoping that I could be made a little taller or stronger, but mostly I was hoping…”
“Excellent! I thought I recognized you.” He stopped in front of me. “Young man, I am your Maker.” He gave me a brilliant white smile.
“Really.” He winked. I couldn’t believe my luck. The first Maker I happened to find was mine. I couldn’t wait to go back to the village and tell everyone how easy it was.
“Let’s see,” said the man turning to the shelves. “Stronger,” he said plucking a bottle filled with green liquid. “Taller.” He grabbed an orange bottle. “And we’ll add Faster too,” he said reaching for some red liquid.
“Those bottles will make me all those things?”
“Of course they will. I have the magic to create don’t I? So of course I have the magic to fix.”
Just wait until everyone in the village saw me. I would come back tall, and strong enough to beat Patrick in a fight. I imagined their surprise when I wave at them with my right hand.
“There’s one more thing,” I said.
“What’s that? You need some freckles removed? A birthmark? Your teeth need straitening? Or whitening? Different color hair, perhaps? Don’t like the shape of your nose?”
“My nose is fine. It’s my arm. I haven’t been able to move it since I was born.”
The man got a strange look on his face, and I thought he was going to tell me that he couldn’t fix it. But he wasn’t looking at my arm. He was looking at my eyes.
“Hmm. Your eyes are a different shade of brown than what I first thought. They’re much lighter. Much, much too light.” He sighed. “I’m sorry boy. I’ve mistaken you for someone else. I’m not your Maker.”
My shoulders slumped. “You can’t fix me?”
“I’m afraid not,” he said sadly, then he brightened. “I’ll let you in on a secret. Only because I feel so bad about giving you false hope.” He leaned in close. “I know everyone thinks that you can only be fixed by the one who made you, but truth is, there are some things that all Makers can fix, even if it isn’t the person they made.”
My eyes widened. “You can fix my arm?”
“I said some things. Your arm is something that only your Maker can fix, but these bottles,” he said holding up the green, orange, and red liquid, “will work on you.”
I was disappointed that my arm would stay the same, but at least I could have a stronger body. Then when I did find my Maker, all he would have to do was fix my arm.
“Do I drink the whole bottle?” I asked.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” he said, smiling. “How much did you bring with you?”
“Money. How much money do you have?”
“I don’t have any money.”
“None?! You came all this way looking for a Maker to fix your incompleteness and you didn’t bring any money with you?”
“I didn’t know I was supposed to.” Heat rose to my cheeks. I didn’t think that Makers needed money.
“Of course you are supposed to. You don’t think we do this for nothing do you? Creating people is exhausting work, and what do we get for it? Nothing. The least we can get is some appreciation for fixing.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think of that,” I said shrugging. “Could I maybe just have one of the bottles?”
“You should come back when you have some money with you. Then we’ll talk.” The man flashed his teeth. “Right now I must get back to making and such. You understand. We Makers are very busy,” he said as he usurer me out the door.
I turned around. “Can you tell me where the other Makers live?”
“Don’t know.” He shut the door.
I stood there for a moment, bewildered. I thought of what Gracie said about the Makers not completing people on purpose. Maybe she was right. Maybe they left people unfinished so they would have to come back to them and pay to be fixed.
I almost started walking back down the trial, but I reminded myself that I was ready to stay up here as long as it took. I just hoped all the Makers didn’t expect money.