The Memory Smith - Part 2 (Aaron Achartz)

Part 2

Magnus ran his hand over the sling again. His fingers bounced against the pebbled outside of the cast. He cautiously flexed his muscles. Though his wrist did not move, a string of ache wound its way up from deep within and along the inside of his arm.

He scowled at the injury. He should be working. Instead, his stupid wrist was holding him back. He cursed his luck again and imagined what he could be working on if he hadn't been injured.

Turning his attention from his wrist, he looked around the workshop. He had picked up the fallen sensations yesterday morning, but his tools were still out and scattered around the workbench.

He bent to pick up the shears that caused all this trouble, but a bolt of pain shot along his back, stopping him. He grit his teeth, grumbled under his breath, and slowly stood upright.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He needed a plan. Valkan should be arriving soon. The student seemed skilled, so he should be able to follow Magnus’s directions.

Magnus nodded to himself. Valkan would become his hands, while he remained the brains of the operation. He would tell him exactly what to do. No deviations.

He looked back down at his wrist. The doctors had said four to six weeks. But Magnus was strong. He could probably be back to work in two weeks. Maybe even one. He was tough enough.

There was a frenetic knock on the front door. Magnus eased himself off of the stool and shuffled over to the door.

Val bounded into the workshop with sparkling eyes. “Hello, Mr. Stonhart. I’m so happy to be here. You just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. I mean it. Anything. What do you need?”

Magnus sighed. “Alright, calm down. Let’s lay down a few rules.”

Val bit his lip, barely suppressing a smile, and nodded.

Magnus began a shuffling pace around the room. “You are my hands. That is all. I am the brains, the creative mind, the controller. You will only do as I say.”

Val’s shoulders dropped slightly.

“You will be here until my hand is better. That is all. I will pay you for your work, but I’m not explaining anything. You will simply follow my orders.”

Val’s face was slack, paler. His lips, still closed, fell out of a smile.

“Any questions?”

“No, sir,” Val said quietly.

“Very well. Let’s get to work.”
Val followed directions well and moved quickly. Though Magnus was more impressed at how at ease Val found himself around the workshop. He glided around easily, finding the right tools and sensations at moments notice. It was as if he’d spent as much time as Magnus in this place.

By the end of the first day, Magnus found a small grin creeping into the corners of his mouth. “You are quite good, Val.”

“Our practice shop at the University is set up like this.” He waved his arms at the chest of drawers which held the sensations. “But yours is so organized. It’s easy to find everything.”

“Because I keep it that way. So, remember to put every tool back where you found it.”

“Yes, sir.”

By the third day, Magnus found himself giving small bits of advice.

“Hold that sunshine with a few clouds.” He gestured with his good hand.

“Traylo said he wanted a beautiful, sunny day for the party.” Val searched through the drawer of fluffy clouds.

“A few clouds won’t ruin the day,” Magnus said. “They complement the sun and temper the excess of either on its own.”

Val pulled out a handful of white clouds and sprinkled them across the sky.

A week in, and Magnus felt comfortable making tea while Val completed his work. He listened to the sparks as Val soldered some sparkles of sunlight onto a small stream. They’d removed the sounds of carts passing from the nearby road and would need to add back in the burble of the brook.

He glanced out the kitchen door into the workshop. Val, staring intensely at his work, reminded Magnus of himself. Such a deep care for making the perfect memories for people. He poured their tea and joined his apprentice.

After three weeks, his wrist was feeling much better. The doctor, annoyingly, advised him to continue to refrain from heavy work, but he could grab sensations for Val and show him where to place them.

He could also begin collecting sensations again, which was good news, as his stocks were running low on the common ones. Feeling confident in Val’s abilities, Magnus headed out into town to grab a few sensations.

It was dinner time when he finally returned. Magnus, his good arm holding the sack, pushed the door to the shop open. “I got some good ones today!”

His voice echoed in the empty space. Val was out, maybe making deliveries. But Magnus did not know of anything they’d finished that day. He took a step back when he caught the glimpse of a memory at the far end.

The smell of wild daisies drifted on a warm breeze into the room. He could hear laughter, though he could not tell much about the person laughing. A summer memory, with a swing and picnic. His skin tingled. They had been working on no such memory.

Val was making his own creations and delivering them as if they were Magnus’s.
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