The Novelist and the Doll, Part 4
“I have been dispatched here to fulfill your need for a scribe. I will perform my duties to your utmost satisfaction so as to not sully the Auto Memories Doll name. It matters not whether my tools are pen and paper or typewriter. Please make use of me as planned.”
Violet uttered these words with her large, jewel-like eyes affixed firmly on Oscar’s. It made Oscar feel a bit fidgety, but he managed to answer with an awkward nod.
The doll had been requested for a period of two weeks. They had only that much time to complete one full script.
Oscar composed himself and led Violet into his study, intending to begin work immediately.
However, on arrival there, it became clear that Violet’s first duties would not be as a scribe but as a housekeeper.
Oscar had pulled everything necessary into one room for it to double as both an office and a bedroom. Strewn about the floor were dirtied clothes and dishes filled with half-eaten meals. It was a miserable spectacle. Such was the mess that one could hardly find space to walk across the floor.
Violet remained silent as she again trained her blue eyes upon Oscar. The eyes themselves seemed to accuse. Did you do anything at all to prepare for my arrival?
Oscar himself knew that it was not a room befitting a working man. Since beginning his days alone, Oscar had hardly touched the living room. As a result, that room had remained in quite a presentable state. But the well-trodden rooms of his house–this office, the washroom, and the bathroom–had all fallen into a most wretched state.
He suddenly felt quite grateful that Violet was an automaton.
Her physical appearance suggested a young woman at the twilight of her teens, or perhaps in her early twenties. Oscar could think of any number of other torturous things he would prefer to endure than the situation of having to show a real girl of that age this embarrassment of an office. It was unchivalrous, and Oscar’s advancing years were no excuse.
“Sir, I must respectfully remind you that I am here to act as a scribe, not as a maid.”
Yet even as she spoke, Violet pulled from her trunk a white, frilled apron and began cleaning the room with a certain zeal. Thus passed their first day.
On the second, they finally managed to both seat themselves in the office and set about the real work ahead.
To be more precise, Oscar reclined on the bed, and Violet sat in the office’s lone chair. She rested her hands on the typewriter stationed at the desk.
As Oscar began to dictate his story, Violet’s hands moved over the keys with a flurry of speed. Her strokes were yet quiet, and of course performed perfectly from memory. Oscar’s eyes grew wide with surprise.
“You’re quite… fast, aren’t you?”
On receiving the compliment, Violet rolled up her sleeve and removed the black glove from one hand. She held the exposed arm up for Oscar to see. It ticked and whirred. A completely mechanical arm. The fingers and knuckles were of especially sturdy construction, finished with only a rudimentary coat of paint. “My
parts have been chosen for maximum utility while still simulating human form. These were produced by Estark. They are renowned for their durability. They also boast a range of movement and compressive strength far exceeding that of human hands. They will suffice in allowing me to record your words precisely as you dictate.”
“Is that so… Uh, well, you don’t need to write down what I’m saying now. Just the words in the script.”
Oscar resumed his dictation. They took several brea
ks, but for the first day of writing, it seemed to go quite well.
Of course, he’d already had the play structured out somewhere in his mind. So far it had seemed quite easy to find the words.
And as he spoke, Oscar realized that Violet was a superb conduit and scribe. From the beginning, he’d noted her quiet appearance, and as they began to work she was every bit faithful to this impression. Though he hadn’t gone so far to ask it of her, he found that he really could not hear the sound of her breathing. The only sound at all in the room, besides Oscar’s own voice, was the click, clack of the typewriter. If he closed his eyes, it almost seemed as if he were pushing the keys himself. When he asked her to read back passages to check his progress, her voice was clear and perfectly inflected. Just listening to it was a joy.
Through her voice, every passage seemed a majestic tale.
So this is what has made them so popular.
He finally seemed to gain a deep appreciation for the qualities of the Auto Memories Doll.
But Oscar and Violet’s smooth progress halted abruptly on the fourth day. Several days passed without so much as a word written. Oscar was plagued with the writer’s most common affliction. Though the story seemed clear to him, the words would not spin together into the fabric they were meant to be.
Long years of experience had taught Oscar what he must do in this situation. The answer was simple: stop writing. He was of the firm belief that no great writing was born when forced.
He regretted having to make Violet wait.
Violet, for her part, quickly and seriously complied with requests for any other type of work around the house, from cleaning to cooking. She seemed to have been designed with, first and foremost, a hardworking disposition. It had been quite some time since Oscar had eaten a home-cooked meal, still wafting up steam on service. He’d had many a meal delivered and occasionally even went out to eat, but such foods somehow paled in comparison with a simple meal prepared through the labors of a well-meaning novice.
He ate unusual omelets whose every bite melted in his mouth. He ate a patty of hamburger mixed with tofu, presented on serving as “an exotic recipe carried from lands far to the East.” He ate fine pilafs of rice mixed with tangy sauces and flourishes of colorful vegetables. He ate seafood au gratin, a rare gem in this mountainous land. Violet inevitably balanced the meal with some sort of salad or soup on the side. Oscar was quite awed by it all.