Hello, Internet! I’m doing something a little different this week with running flash fic today, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday! In all of my rush to finish Urban Fairy Tale on time, things had to go by the wayside. Well, Amberly Smith is here to kick things off with “The Doll Maker’s Son.”
We meet Vitroli, a young man desperate to win the approval of his father. Is there something that can be said that means more than words?
The Doll Maker’s Son
by A. Smith
All good Paquette men play with dolls. In fact people travel from around the world to Sedona, Italy, to watch them play.
Vitroli Paquette led the latest batch of tourists through the Doll Warehouse, his family’s restoration workshop. Those who didn’t know what went into making porcelain were disgusted by the sheen of clay dust covering the room, thicker in the out-of-reach cracks and crevices.
“This next workroom is our operating room. This is where major repairs are done, including porcelain damage.” Vitroli spoke English, colored by Eminem and Orange is the New Black, but he laid on the accent for the tour.
The smell of earth and heat had long since become a background sheen to the meticulous organization of the old workroom. Today the place felt hazardous. Vitroli’s eyes landed upon the sharp tools, the smothering thickness of the safety gloves, and the hunched shoulders of his father. His throat was dry but sweat gathered on his top lip. He had taken a cautious step into this men-only world and then contempt for such hesitation propelled his next foot down with confidence. With a lift of his chin, he defied anyone to challenge his right to be here.
“Yesterday we received a shipment from London, England, with a pair of Jules Verlingue dolls for repair. They are both over 100 years old and will become museum pieces.” He gave the tourists, a female heavy population, the chance to look around, eyes as big as Blythe Dolls. Several pulled out smartphones to snap pictures.
He slid forward to stand right next to his father’s workbench. Vitroli’s speech included the difference between porcelain and bisque and trivia of famous doll collectors. “We duplicate the same process used to make the doll hundreds of years ago and have for several generations. My great-grandfather taught my grandfather as he taught my father.”
A blond and gray Australian — those frank and often oblivious Aussies — waved her hand for his attention. She was wearing shorts to mid-thigh and a t-shirt with some beer logo on the front. Her hair seemed to be braided in a flat Mohawk, whatever that was called. He’d sure as shit had never let his hair get long enough to do that. “And your father will teach you. Family traditions are important.”
“Maybe.” Vitroli bit his lip and reached to push his hair behind his ear before he remembered it didn’t do that anymore. He rubbed the back of his neck instead. His father, Antonio Paquette, introduced himself and explained the work he was doing. Antonio worked silently for a while, letting them watch. He spoke to the doll, his accent heavy. “I don’t know how to tell you this. I amputated the wrong leg.” Then he spoke to the crowd, “Hopefully, she won’t sue.”
Vitroli smiled, remembering similar silly games as a child as he crawled around the shop playing with his own porcelain and wood soldiers. Now was the moment he was dreading. His father would turn the tour back over to his daughter. Back to Vitrosa. He wasn’t that little girl, had never been. And today, for the first time, he was showing his true self. His father finished explaining what he was doing.
The crowd politely clapped and his father turned to look at Vitroli. His father had intense eyes. Sometimes they got lost beneath his bushy eyebrows, all that dark blending together. Vitroli braced his shoulders, trying to extend his shoulders even higher. If his father did it, called him Vitrosa? He’d just laugh it off, tell the strangers that his dad was joking. They’d buy that. They heard him aim for funny when he joked about amputating the wrong leg. Vitroli’s stomach hadn’t hurt this much since he got into Grandpa Marco’s candy stash. Not even when he’d come out to his parents.
It was going to be okay. It didn’t matter. Wouldn’t matter.
“My son, he will lead you back to the salon, we do paint and hair for the dolls. My son, he knows this place well. Ask him any question.”
Vitroli nodded to his father, doing his best to keep his shit together. He had thought he would feel relief. Instead, joy flushed his body. No not joy, freedom. Best natural high Vitroli had ever had. He grasped his father’s shoulder as he walked by. Briefly acknowledging what must have been hard for both of them. His father simply nodded and then curved back over his art.
“Let’s get these legs back on. Shall we?”