After three more days of his time with Violet went by, Oscar got on his feet again. What he had gained inspiration for had been a specific scene.
The story Oscar was having Violet write was about the adventures of a lone girl. Said girl, who had left home, visited many lands, came in contact with many people and witnessed many occurrences, thus growing up. The girl’s motif was his diseased daughter.
At the end of it all, the girl returned to the home she had parted from. Her father had awaited her there, and could not tell if it was really her, as she had changed so much. The sad girl begged him to remember, reminding him of a promise they had exchanged in the past – to try crossing the lake close to their house by walking on the decayed leaves that fell on the water.
“Humans can’t walk on water.”
“I just want the image. I’ll make the girl be assisted by the blessing she had earned from a water spirit in the middle of her adventure.”
“Even so, I’m not cut for this. The girl from the story is vivacious and charmingly innocent. That’s unlike everything I am.” The Auto-Memories Doll argued.
Oscar had Violet put on clothes that imitated his main character and asked her if she could play around a little at the lakeshore. He had already made her do cleaning, laundry and other house chores, and on top of it, asked for such a favor. It was as if she was a factotum.
Even as Violet was a percipient professional woman, she mused in surprise, “What a troublesome person…”
“Your hair color… may be a little different, but it’s blond, just like my daughter was. If you put on a one-piece, surely…”
“Master, I am but a secretary. An Auto-Memories Doll. I’m not your wife or concubine. Nor can I become a replacement.”
“I-I know that. I wouldn’t have that kind of interest in a girl like you. It’s just… your appearance… if my daughter was alive, I think… she’d have grown into someone sort of like that.”
Violet’s firm rejection crumbled at that.
“I really did think you were being too stubborn… so your young lady has passed away?” she bit her lip lightly. Her face seemed to show her conscience was conflicted.
During these few days, Oscar had become able to understand one thing about her. That is, how Violet would stick to what was considered ‘righteous’ when she was torn between good or bad things.
“I’m an Auto-Memories Doll… I want to grant my clients’ wishes… but this one violates my work regulations…”
She behaved as if she was inwardly wrestling with herself, and although Oscar felt bad for it, he tried one last time. “If you could build the image of the girl as a grown-up, coming back home, ready to fulfill her promise, my will to write will soon be revived. It’s true. If you want a reward, I can give anything. I can pay double your original price. This story is really precious to me. I want to finish writing it, and make it my life’s milestone. Please.”
“But… I… am not a dress-up doll…”
“Then I won’t take photos or anything of the sort.”
“You had intended to?”
“I’ll burn it into my memory, and write the story with just that. Please.”
Violet thought it over a little more with a sullen face after that, and wound up complying, losing to Oscar’s persistence. She could be the type that became weak when pressured.
Oscar then left behind his life of confinement, went out on his own and bought fancy clothes and an umbrella for Violet. The outfit wa
s a white lace blouse and a ribbon belt over a blue one-piece. The umbrella was cyan and white-stripped, abundant in frills. Violet seemed interested in it, spinning it around after repeatedly opening and closing it.
“Is the umbrella weird?”
“It’s my first time seeing such a cute umbrella.”
“Aren’t you wearing cute clothes yourself? Do they not match your tastes?”
“We wear what the superiors of the Company suggest us to. I myself don’t visit fashion stores very often.”
It was like a child dressing up as her mother told her.
――It could be… that she’s far younger than even she herself thinks.
Thinking like that, she faintly resembled a little girl, regardless of her adult-like design.
While Violet still had not changed her mind, once Oscar was done shopping, he wasted no time in asking her to get changed.
It was late afternoon, a bit cloudy outside. It did not seem like it would rain, but the atmosphere implied so. The chilly air that brought the feeling that autumn was coming was not yet cold enough to prod into one’s skin.
Oscar was the one to go out first. He sat on a wooden chair in the vicinity of the lake, smoking a pipe. Because he had somewhat taken care of himself and not smoked since she had arrived, the feeling of the smoke steeping through his belly was diffused.
A few minutes of blown smoke floating in the air ensued. Then, the increasingly-worse rattling front door was opened with a creaking sound.
“Sorry for the wait.”
He turned only his head at the dispassionate voice.
‘…didn’t make me wait much’ was what he was going to say, but the words did not come as his breath had stopped for a second. He swallowed back a gasp, as dumfounded as the first time he had seen Violet. She was too gorgeous with her hair down – a beauty that stole the moment of appreciation of everything else.
The hair that had once been braided was leniently spread and slightly curled at the ends. It was fairly longer than he had imagined. And, most important of all…
――If… my daughter had been able to grow up… she’d be like this.
Had she come to show him her dressed-up form? As he wondered about that, warmth welled in his chest.
“Master, is the image of me wearing the clothes you gave me good enough?” In the midst of the world of autumn colors, the girl of inhuman beauty grabbed her skirt and tried spinning around once.
Originally posted by yuno-chi
“With this, I just have to model as though I was crossing that lake, right? Eh, but Master, is this really the kind of setting you wanted to write? Rather than merely walking around like this, even if it’s just for a few seconds, it would be better if I actually did run across the lake. Master, leave it to me. I’m specialized in physical activities, and although it’s only for a little, I can follow your expectations.” Violet explained as expressionless and indifferently as ever, not minding Oscar, who was overcome with many emotions at the same time and could not come up with any reply other than ‘aah’s and ‘uuh’s.
The one standing in front of him was the total opposite of his daughter. Despite possessing the same golden hair, her pupils lacked that sweet glow.
Violet put the closed umbrella on her shoulder while gripping it tightly. She stood at a broad distance from the lake, staring at it as though examining the water surface. Dyed in the withering colors of autumn, decayed leaves were afloat on it.
The wind was unstable, blowing and stopping, blowing and stopping. Oscar worriedly observed her licking one of her mechanic fingers with the tip of her tongue, confirming said wind’s direction. As she steadily stepped backwards into the ground, she glanced at Oscar with a tiny smile.
“Worry not. Everything… shall be as Master wishes.” After assuring that with a clear voice, Violet leaped widely.
Although she had been far from him, in a second, she flew past Oscar’s eyes. That speed was like the wind itself.
Before stepping onto the lake, the swift Auto-Memories Doll firmly kicked the earth. The impact was strong enough to shake the soil. Her tough legs made real the possibility of jumping a frightening height. It looked as though she was about to climb the stairway to heaven. Oscar’s mouth was agape at the superhuman action.
From that point on, everything seemed to have happened in slow motion.
Reaching the critical point, Violet raised the umbrella she had taken with her and opened it flashily. It was like a blooming flower. The umbrella’s frills swayed beautifully, and as if predicting the perfect timing, the wind pushed her feet forward. Her skirt and umbrella bulged softly in the air, her petticoat sticking out. Her long lace-up boots gently stepped onto the decayed leaves floating on the water surface.
That one moment. That one second. That one picture. The scene as clear as a photography was engraved into Oscar’s memory. A girl with a swinging umbrella and a fluttering skirt, stepping onto the surface of a lake. Just like a sorceress.
The words of his daughter from the day her heartbeats stopped came back to him.
“You’ll show it to me someday, right? In that lake close to our house, when the leaves that fall in autumn gather together on the water surface.”
‘Someday… I’ll show it to you someday, Dad.’
A voice… the voice from that girl whom he had ended up forgetting reverberated in his mind.
――You had no idea, did you? I wanted to continue being called by you, a hundred more times even.
“You’ll show it to me someday, right?”
‘Dad.’ a lisp, sweet voice said. ‘I’ll show it to you someday, Dad.’
――Your voice was more comfortable to hear than anyone else’s.
‘I’ll show it to you someday.’
――Ah, that’s right. You, with that voice, would innocently entertain me. You had said that, had you not? We had a promise. I had forgotten. I had forgotten it all. For a long time, I couldn’t bring myself to remember you properly, so I’m glad we met again. Even as an illusion, I’m glad I met you. My gracious little lady. Mine, mine. My treasure shared with my most precious person. I knew… that
it definitely couldn’t be fulfilled. Yet we still promised it. That promise, your death… they destroyed me, while pushing me on to keep living until now. And until now, I kept dragging myself through life. I lived messily, looking for vestiges of you. I had regretted it, but this moment… the moment where someone who isn’t you resembled you to me… was a moment, a chance meeting, an encounter, and an embrace. I had wanted to see it, thinking it would make me want to live for real again. You, whose name I can’t even whisper out of sadness. I had… wanted to see the gracious you once again, all this time. The last family member I had left. Always, always, I had constantly wanted to see you. I loved you.
He was so happy he actually wanted to smile, and yet…
“Fu… uh… uh…”
…only sobs came out. Tears flowed as though to start bringing Oscar’s frozen time back to action.
He could hear the tic-tac of a clock. It was the sound of his formerly frigid heart beating.
“I really, really…”
As he covered his face with his hands, he realized how unpleasantly creased they had become. Just for how long had his time stopped ever since those two had passed away?
“…wanted you… to not… have died…” his face was distorted as he murmured with a tearful voice, “I had wanted you to live… live and… grow up… a lot…”
――and show me how beautiful you would have become. I had wanted to see you like that. And after being able to see you in that form, I wanted to have died before you. Before you, after having been taken care of by you – I had wanted to die like this. Not having… to take care… of you. Not like that.
“I want to see you…”
Oscar’s tears leaked from his eyes down his cheeks and dripped onto the ground. The sound of Violet stepping onto the lake echoed through his world of weeping. The moment of gleam was gone, and his daughter’s voice that he had finally remembered was soon forgotten again. The illusion of a smiling face, too, disappeared like soap bubbles.
Oscar blocked his field of vision not only with his hands, but also with his eyes closed. He rejected the world that she no longer belonged in.
――Ah, it would be fine if I died right now. No matter how much time I spend mourning, they won’t return. Heart, breathing, please stop. Ever since my wife and daughter died, I’ve become as good as dead. That’s why, now… right now, in this very second… I want to drop dead onto the ground as if I had been shot down. Just like flowers, which can’t keep breathing if their petals fall off.
He implored, but even if he made that wish several hundreds of million times, nothing would change. He, who had already wished it these several hundreds of million times, knew it very well.
――Let me die, let me die, let me die. If the only other option is living in loneliness, let me be dead with them.
As much as he begged, nothing of it came true. Nothing came true, however…
In the world he neglected, he could hear the voice of a thing whose time was as stagnant as his own. With ragged breaths, it made its way towards him.
He was still living. And, while at it, he was struggling to disappear, just as his late loved ones had. It was not a prayer that would be answered by being mustered out, but with a darkness-engulfed field of vision, where no sunlight could penetrate, he supplicated anyways.
――If I’m not to die yet, at least may my daughter be happy within that story. May my daughter be satisfied with it. And by my side. May she be… by my side forever. Even if only inside the story. Even as an imaginary girl. Be by my side.
He could not help but wish so. After all, his life would go on.
In front of Oscar, who cried without caring about his age, Violet arrived, drenched in lake water. Water droplets dripped from her messy clothes, which were now ruined. Yet she had the most joyful expression, which could be considered a smile, that she had ever showed until then.
“Did you see? I was able to walk three steps.”
Without revealing that he had become unable to see through the tears, Oscar answered while inhaling with a runny nose, “Hm, I did. Thank you, Violet Evergarden.” He put his gratitude and respect into his words.
――Thank you for making it true. Thank you. It really was like a miracle.
As he said he did not think a God existed, but if it did, it was definitely her, Violet merely responded, “I’m an Auto-Memories Doll, Master.” without denying nor confirming God’s existence.
Afterwards, Oscar warmed up a bath for Violet, who was utterly soaked.
She did not show up for meals, but she did use the bathroom every day and supposedly rested in the room that had been given to her. She was a very human-like mechanic doll.
――Really, civilization is amazing nowadays. The development of science is remarkable.
Not even while being a machine girl can she be left with wet clothes. As a change of clothes was necessary, she lay a bathrobe around her supposedly perfect body and headed for the bathroom. It had been a while since anyone other than Oscar regularly used it, so in a lapse of memory, he entered it without knocking and ended up seeing her while she was had not changed yet.
“Ah, I’m sor… ry… eh?”
He swallowed his breath due to perplexity.
What was reflected in Oscar’s eyes was a sight more bewitchingly beautiful than any naked woman. Dripping golden hair. Beautiful blue orbs of a dimension that would not soften even within a painting. The finely-shaped lips just below them. A flesh body with a slender neck, an outstanding collarbone, plump breasts, and feminine curves.
Her artificial arms consisted of metal rings from the shoulders to the fingertips. But it was only them. Despite the many scratches, other than the arms, the rest was surprisingly real skin. With that delicate body, she did not seem at all like a mechanical doll, but a relatively normal human being.
With everything he had believed in until then being mantled over by the shocking revelation, Oscar tried to confirm what he was seeing many times.
“Master.” Violet called with a voice that seemed to be judging him as he continued to ogle in astonishment.
“UAAAAAAH! UAAAAAH! UAAAAAHAAAAAH!”
Part of the outcome of that incident was Oscar’s screaming. The other was him half-crying while going beet-red, after having yelled on top of his lungs, frantically inquiring, “Are you human, after all?!”
Wrapping a towel around herself, Violet plainly commented, “Master is, truly, a troublesome person.” Her cheeks were rose-dusted as she muttered, her face a little lowered.
‘Auto-Memories Doll’. It has been a long time since such name was popularized.
The creator was the researcher of mechanical dolls, Dr. Orlando. His wife, Molly, was a novelist, and it all started when she lost her sight. Once she had become blind, Molly was extremely depressed that she could not write novels – something she had done for the majority of her life – and had grown weaker as the days passed. Unable to bear seeing his wife in that state, Dr. Orlando built the first Auto-Memories Doll. It was meant for registering everything said by a human voice – in other words, a machine that served as a ‘secretary’.
After that, some of Molly’s works won worldwide literary prizes, and Dr. Orlando’s invention became known as necessary for the course of history. Although he had only meant to make it for his beloved wife, it later became well-known with the support of a great amount of people. Currently, Auto-Memories Dolls were being sold at a reasonably low price, and there were types that could be rented or borrowed. However, those were only secretaries that possessed similar characteristics to Auto-Memories Dolls, and were referred to with the same name.
After having bid goodbye to Violet, Oscar came to learn through his friend that she was famous in the industry. As the latter found out Oscar had primarily mistaken her for a real Auto-Memories Doll, he let out an obnoxious, amused laugh. “You sure live under a rock! Did you really think a machine so pretty could exist?”
“It’s because you had said she was a mechanical doll…”
“The technology of the present human civilization hasn’t reached that level yet. There are actual mechanical dolls, though. Some cute ones. But I just… thought she’d be a good medicine for someone like you, a shut-in who doesn’t interact with people. That girl… doesn’t talk much, but she has the power to restore people. It served the purpose, right?”
She was indeed quiet, but, yes, she was a really good girl.
“They’re no match for Violet Evergarden, but next time, for you to have a permanent assistant, I’ll send you a secretary that isn’t half-human.”
In the end, a package was delivered to Oscar’s house. It contained a small doll, completely different from Violet Evergarden. It was a mechanical doll meant for recording everything said by him with his typewriter, and would usually be sitting on his desk, clad in a lovely dress.
――I see. Definitely, this is extraordinary.
“But, it can’t compare to her…” Oscar smiled wryly, looking at the room he had lent to the girl who was no longer around. If he said he was lonely, he knew exactly how she would reply.
“Master is… such a troublesome person.” A clear voice echoed. The owner spoke expressionlessly, with only her lips curling upwards a little bit.
Even without her there, he had a feeling he could hear it.