Hank Gratton had been a master at his trade. His large fingers, which one might assume would be too bulky and thick to manipulate delicate pieces of machinery, held many surprises. He was like a modern day savant. A prodigy.
It was true he wasn’t the smartest or the most cunning of people, yet in his youth if you placed him in front of a broken television or a box of machine parts he could build you miracles.
Even as a child his mind seemed to fall into mechanical logic just as easily as most children picked up games. More then once he had taken apart and then fixed things in the house without his parents even knowing.
It became a challenge to him. For a while at least until things became so complex and so filled with computer bits and intense programming that he grew outdated.
He wasn’t an intelligent man. You could set him in front of pieces and he could feel them, put them together like an engineer, but he couldn’t come up with the programming to make it work.
Eventually it all just fell apart.
A dependency of alcohol soon replaced his dreams of success. But that was years ago. Hank Gratton was many things at some point in his life, but now he was simply a drunk looking for his own salvation. Waiting for someone to build him a miracle instead.
Perhaps it was irony that his safe haven was a church of all places. Old and run down, abandoned just as he seemed to be. Just as Maven seemed to be as well.
He sat in the back of the church with an angel and a puzzle. A bunch of broken pieces that he wasn’t sure how to fix.
There had always been the other possibility as well. That the large man who drank too much and spent far too much time alone might have just snapped.
Maybe in reality he was simply a bloated corpse somewhere living out some grand illusion before his brain shuts off completely. He didn’t have time to think about that really. He had a job to do.
The church itself had been abandoned for years. The old priest had been somewhat of a hermit over the years. Refusing to change and adapt to the new modern religion of metal and glass. Hank had been one of the very few visitors he ever had, so none seemed to notice him come and go now that the old priest was dead and the land was unused.
Eventually they may come to tear it down and rebuild some sort of shopping center, but for now the building was his. And for now it was Maven’s as well.
“It must be a test.” He muttered to himself. His large fingers poking and prodding at pieces in front of him. “Is he finally judging me?”
“Judging you?” the girl mimicked from the side chair. Her soft eyes had hardly left the large man’s form. Her hope still played there like a crushing blow to him.
She wanted him to succeed.
“This is very delicate…” he muttered to himself, rubbing his eyes for the second time. “If only I had a drink to steady my hands.”
“Would that help you?”
“No it probably wouldn’t.” At least he was honest.
The girl left the chair finally and wandered around the confines of the room he had locked himself in. There was a large window, which flared colored shards of moonlight across the candle-lit floor. The pieces of glass spelled out an image of angels. Her mind processed the image in awe.
She had never seen stained glass before. Also she had never been in such a place of wood and tradition. It felt so different to her. So very different then herself. It made her quiver.
“Is this what I am?” she whispered to herself as a finger carefully touched the glass pieces. She wished she could feel their texture, their coolness. She wished she could somehow reach inside and understand beyond the soldering and flax.
Maven wasn’t stupid. She knew she lacked senses that others seemed to have. She had noticed it in her fathers touch. In how he could tell things she couldn’t by merely feeling things.
She also saw it in Hank. How he felt and carefully maneuvered things with textile accuracy she couldn’t quite manage. Sure she was very exact when she wished it, but she couldn’t feel the pressure in her fingers, the heat of an object. There were no nerves in her.
She wondered what it would be like to feel as they did. To be able to touch and smell and taste. She watched him enjoy eating, watched his odd rituals of relieving himself. It was all strange and unique to her.
She would never eat. She would never smell. A million things she was never programmed to do.
Yet it wasn’t really that fact that bothered her. It was her whole creation which puzzled her to no end. Notnow was a mistake, she could understand his creation. But she was planned.
Her father had created her into an image of an angel. Why? Somehow he didn’t seem as interested in his own God as Hank seemed to be. And if indeed these angels were God’s.. what did that make her?
“Hank?” She turned carefully, but the gruff man was busying himself with parts and pieces. She wanted to draw his attention away to answer her own questions but the wish to have Notnow back kept her silent.
Notnow was her only real link with who she was now. He was what was important, not her silly quest to understand something she couldn’t change or do anything about.
Her wings pulled around her and she simply looked at the images before her and dreamed. She dreamed of flying, of being loved. She dreamed of the awe and beauty that these angels seemed to have.
And the acceptance that she seemed to lack.
When Hank had seen her he had been amazed. There was some sort of acceptance in his eyes and she wondered, however briefly if she didn’t crave that. Was it because he mistook her for one of these creatures? Or because she was one?
Her wings twitched uneasily at her back and then stretched out to carefully mimic the positions she saw. They could copy some of them fairly well, but others seemed as if her wings simply weren’t large enough to hold the air like theirs did.
The child, with wide eyes and dreamy thoughts wondered to herself what it would be like to fly. Would it be freeing like it appeared on their faces, peaceful and sullen.
Soaring in painted clouds of picturesque details.
Maven didn’t sleep. She wasn’t certain she could dream, but with these thoughts she came strangely close to it. If nothing else, this was Her dream. She dreamed to fly.
“It would be nice,” she thought quietly. “…if I was more then just a machine. Maybe then my father would be proud of me.”
Maven’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of something clicking at the desk. An arm joint slowly moved while gears muttered from loud clicking into a pop noise. Then silence. It moved with ease now.
She approached curiously as he set to fixing Notnow’s jaw, again having to buff, shift and push the pieces into the right places. Again listening for the pop of the joint setting in place.
Soon the pops and clicks were followed by glue and solder. The old tools that worked by the candlelight like old 18th century clockmaker might have been rather outdated as well, but just like Hank they seemed to serve their purpose.
At first his movements were stalled with hesitation and anxiety. Every repair seemed to be a grueling process, and there was so much left to do. His arm, his shoulder, his jaw. Soon he was working on the monkey’s tail which was battered and the end broken off completely.
“I think I can do this.” The large man muttered to himself stunned as things started to make sense, and his hands shook less and less.
“I know you can.” Maven whispered as she placed a reassuring hand on his back. She had learned trust, in the strangest of places.