He held out his hand and stepped aside so I could come in. I noticed he said “The Maker” and not just a Maker. Maybe he was head of all Makers. That would make sense—why his house was on the top. If he was the leader of all Makers, then maybe he would be able to tell me where my Maker was.
I stepped in. The room wasn’t lined with bottles like the other Maker’s house. It was filled with an assortment of things that lay in a sort of organized mess. There was a large armchair by the unlit fireplace. The mantel was lined with books propped up by a large clear globe. There was a tall upright mirror that at first I thought was dirty because it wasn’t reflecting anything in the room, but on closer look realized that there was swirling mist over the surface. There was a telescope in the corner that pointed to a wall.
What caught my attention most were the birds. There was a pole with a bunch of wooden sticks branching out from it, making it resemble a tree. In this “tree” was an eagle, a raven, and a dove.
“You sent them,” I said.
“Then Makers do what to be found.” Then I remembered the canteen around my neck and took it off. “I guess this is yours then.”
The Maker waved his hand. “Keep it. You’ll need it on your way down.”
“How is it still full?” I said putting the canteen back around my neck. “I’ve drank out of it for days.”
He smiled. “It’s an invention of mine. Just like the bread. One piece will keep you full an entire day.”
This Maker must be better than most if he made things like that. He must know where my Maker was.
“Sir, I came here to find my Maker. Do you know where he is?”
My words tumbled over each other. “Can you tell me how to get to where he is? Or maybe have your dove guide me there?” Then I remembered my manners. “I mean, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
“It’s no trouble, but you won’t need the dove to show you. You’ve already found the place.”
“You mean you? You’re my Maker?”
I quench my excitement. “Take a good look,” I told him, “The last Maker thought he was mine too, but he just thought I was someone else.”
The man’s dark eyebrows knit together when I mentioned the other Maker.
“A true Maker always recognizes who they made. Each person is unique. They can’t be forgotten.”
I cocked my head. “You mean there are fake Makers?” I didn’t think it was possible to pretend to be a Maker.
The Maker sank into his armchair. “What if I told you that all the Makers were fakes?” I frowned. They couldn’t be fakes. How else were people made if not by the Makers? “All except one,” continued the Maker.
Did he mean him? “But the other Maker—he had bottles with stuff inside that could have made me bigger. He can’t be fake.”
The Maker waved his hand. “Potions and tricks. Some of them work. Some don’t.” He leaned forward. “Tell me, when did he realize that he didn’t make you?”
“Well,” I thought for a moment, “It was after I told him about my arm.”
He nodded. “Because that can’t be fixed by gimmicks and bottles. Once he realized that, he covered himself by pretending to mistake you for someone else.”
“But there can’t be only one,” I said, “Teacher says there are lots of Makers, so does my parents, so does everyone in the village.”
“Is what everyone else says always true?” The maker raised an eyebrow. “Did everyone else think that you could make it to the top of Mount Obscure? Did everyone else think you would find your Maker?”
I shook my head. “No one thought I could do it. Not even my parents.”
“But here you are. What everyone else said wasn’t true about you. Maybe what everyone else says isn’t true about Makers either.”
“So you are the only Maker?” I squinted at him.
“But why does everyone think there is more than one? Why don’t you tell them that you are the only Maker?”
“Most wouldn’t listen. They don’t want only one Maker. They want many.”
“I suppose it’s more exciting to think that there are many Makers living on this mountain instead of just one. Mostly though, it’s just because that’s the way it’s always been. People have a hard time accepting something new even if it’s true.”
“I believe you,” I said, suddenly feeling sorry for him. He was all alone on this huge mountain, and no one even bothered to come up here and find out the truth. They just believed what everyone else did.
“When I get back, I’ll tell people about you. I’ll tell them that you are the only Maker that lives in Mount Obscure.”
The Maker smiled. “I know you will Mark.”
“You know my name?”
“I know everyone’s names.”
“How?” I didn’t know the Makers—or Maker—knew our names or anything about us. I always thought that after we were made, they placed us on the doorstep of our parents’ home and then never thought about us again.
He chuckled. “I can’t give away all my secrets. But I’ve been watching you, and I knew that you would visit me one day.”
He’d watched me? A Maker—The Maker—watched me? I didn’t know why someone as important as the Maker would care what I was doing, but it filled me with warmth to know that he singled me out.
“Has anyone else come all the way up?” I asked.
“Not enough.” He looked at the ashes in the fireplace. “Most don’t make it passed the false Makers around the edge of the mountain. They don’t want to fix what’s really wrong with them. All they want is a different hair color, straighter teeth, taller height.”
“But what about the people I heard about that wander in here for months? Why don’t they reach the top?”
“They don’t want to. They follow every trail that leads off of the main path hoping to find an easier way to their Makers instead of staying on the path they started on.”
“Maybe they don’t know that it goes to the top.”
Of course I did. The path always led straight up, where the other paths twisted and turned.
“I guess it is simple,” I said. “So why don’t they stay on the main path?”
“What was it like the higher you climbed?” he asked.
“The path got steeper and the fog thicker. I could hardly see.”
He nodded. “It became harder. Most would rather find an easier way.”
“But it’s not an easier way,” I said, “Those other paths led them nowhere. All those people will stay incomplete.” I thought of Gracie. What if she chose one of the other paths? “Someone has to tell them.” I lifted my chin. “Someone has to tell them that they have to go all the up or they’ll never be fixed.”
“Someone does,” he said looking at me intently.
“Me? I should tell them? But what about you?”
“It isn’t my time to leave the mountain. I need you to tell them.”
“I guess I could do that,” I said with a shrug. There was a moment of silence, and I realized that I hadn’t asked my most important question. I cleared my throat.
“Sir, I have something to ask you. Well, since you’ve been watching me, I guess you already know about my arm.” He didn’t say anything, and I wondered if he would suddenly say that he wasn’t my Maker too. “There was a mistake.” I grimaced at the word. It seemed impossible that someone like the Maker could make a mistake. I was sure it was impolite to accuse him of making one. “And I was left incomplete.”
“You were left incomplete, yes, but a mistake?” He stood and walked to me. He took my limp hand in his and his hazel eyes looked into mine. “I see no mistake.”
I didn’t know how to respond. Part of me felt wonderful that he didn’t care about my limp arm. The way he looked at me made me feel like the fastest, tallest, smartest boy there was. Another part of me sank in disappointment. How could he fix a mistake he couldn’t see? Or was he saying that he did it on purpose?
“There’s something I want to show you,” he said, leading me to the telescope that pointed to the wall. “Look in it.”
“Shouldn’t I move it first?” I asked.
He chuckled. “It doesn’t look outward, but inward.”
I put my eye to it, wondering what looking at a wall had to do with my arm. I blinked. I wasn’t looking at a wall, but me. There was a miniature me, glowing like a candle was lit inside. The miniature jumped and ran and twirled. I didn’t look scrawny, but strong. And I was swinging my right arm.
I looked back at the Maker. “What was that?”
“But how is that me?” I pointed to my chest. “I’m me.”
“What you see isn’t the real you,” the Maker explained, “It is only a cover for the actual you.”
“There are two of me?”
He laughed. “Yes, sort of. What you saw in the telescope is the you hiding inside. Gracie and you aren’t the only ones in your village that are incomplete. In fact, there isn’t one person who I didn’t make incomplete.”
“But there are lots of people in my village who are complete. They don’t limp, they can move their arms. There’s nothing wrong with them.”
“Isn’t there?” asked the Maker. “It only looks like they are complete because the outward them isn’t broken. But what about the person inside of them?”
“You mean I’m not the only one with two of me?”
“Everyone I’ve made has two of them, and every single one of them I made incomplete.”
“Why not just make them complete to begin with?” The Maker didn’t seem like a cruel person. Maybe he didn’t realize how awful it was to be incomplete.
“Because, one day I wanted them to come back to me. I wanted to talk with them. I’ve created thousands of people, yet I’m alone. Once I’ve created them, they forget about me.”
“But what about this?” I held up my limp arm with my good hand. “Do you leave me unfinished on purpose?”
“Why?” Hurt and confusion bubbled inside. It wasn’t fair that he would make everyone else’s inside selves the ones with something to fix, but leave me incomplete on the outside. “Why would you do that to me?”
“You’re special to me Mark. I wanted you to come back.”
“Then why didn’t you just leave my inside self incomplete like everyone else’s?”
“Do you see anyone whose outside is whole coming to Mount Obscure?”
I dropped my gaze. No one who thought they were complete wanted to come to the mountain.
“If I made you with the ability to move your arm, would you have come to me?”
I shook my head.
“I needed you to come back.” He put a hand on my shoulder. “I have something I want you to do.”
“But I’m here now. So you can fix my arm? Right?” I gazed up at him.
“You are already fixed Mark. From the moment you walked in the real you was made complete.”
I didn’t just want the “real me,” the me that I couldn’t see to be fixed. I wanted my arm to work. “Why is this real me so important? I can’t see him. Why should I care if he’s broken?”
“Because they live even when the outward you dies. The person inside of you is like me. They live forever.”
“So all those people you made—all of them that never came to the top of the mountain—they won’t be able to live forever?”
“That’s why I needed you to come back. I chose you to tell them about this.”
I didn’t know why the Maker wanted me to do such an important task, but if he wanted me to do it, then I would. Even if my outer self remained broken. He chose me, and that was enough.
“I’ll do it,” I said, straightening my shoulders.
“I knew you would.”
I headed down the mountain with a canteen of unending water around my neck, the Maker’s special bread in my pack, and the dove in front of me. The journey down was much easier than up. I was so excited to get back to the village and tell them what I’d learned. My steps came faster and faster. My foot caught and I tripped. I grabbed a tree branch to steady myself.
I stopped. I’d grabbed a branch. With my right hand.
I stared at my outstretched arm and grasping fingers as if I’d never seen them before. Then I held my hand in front of my face wriggling my fingers. I moved my elbow. I swung my arm in a circle and laughed.
He fixed it. I didn’t know when or how, but the Maker fixed it. I couldn’t stop moving my arm, or grinning. I could see Gracie’s smile when I show her my wriggling fingers and Peter’s mouth drop when reach up with my right hand to catch the ball. I couldn’t wait to let everyone know that I found the Maker.
Thanks for reading!
If you missed any parts, here they are.