The Broken Toy ManA Story by Dennis Shanaberg
a symbolic story about a toy maker and the toy man she built
She entered the dimly lit room. A shaft of light glistened through a cloud of dust that floated before her. It pointed towards a bright circle that illuminated her work bench. She stepped slowly toward that table. The remnants of another failed work lay before her.
The young toymaker picked up the leg she had fashioned from a piece of metal in one hand and turned an arm made of plastic in the other. She remembered the time, the care, the heart she had put into making him, but in the end, he was just another failure. Another toy soldier that would never be finished.
She dreamed of a day when she could make one that would move all its own with dreams and thoughts that paralleled hers. She was alone with only this small poorly lit toy shop, and such a creation would give her some company. Such a discovery might even give her the future she had always longed for.
But no matter how she tried, how she placed the pieces, how she formed them, the time that she put into each of these toy soldiers, they never met her expectations. And thus they remained without life. Another failed attempt.
She awoke from her reverie and glanced at the foul pieces in her hands. She felt anger well up inside her as she considered the time she had lost there. As those feelings frothed hot inside her, she threw the pieces of the broken soldier to the other side of the room. They fell into the shadows at the base of the wall. They were not alone there. They joined a pile of pieces from other broken toys. She considered these for a moment when a sound echoed through the tiny shop.
A dinging broke the ceaseless silence as the doorbell to the place was rung. She stopped in wonder. She had not heard that sound in years. She had almost forgotten its implications, but who could be at the door for her.
She slowly got up the nerve to head to the front of the shop. Her hand found the handle and she felt the cold metal turn in her hands. The outdoors nearly blinded her as light flooded the room. She stared into the void beyond the door to realize there was no one there. Her heart sank at her realization. As she closed the door again, she looked down, and that was when she saw it.
A box--not very large, not very small. Average, but it had her name stamped on it. The box was meant for her.
She made an exclamation of glee and slowly brought the box back into her shop. She slit the packaging open beneath the light on her work bench. The contents spilled out along with a short hand written note: “YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU WILL NEED! YOU JUST NEED TO PUT THE PIECES TOGETHER!”
And so she did. She felt elated as she saw her creation take shape. This was not an ordinary toy soldier though. This was a toy man all his own, something different from the uniform pieces that she was used to working with. His face shown something brighter, his hair moved freer, his joints even moved more smoothly than the stiffness of the soldiers.
She fell in love with this work, putting her soul and her time into every action she did for him. Before she knew it, months had passed, and he was nearly complete. She simply had one more piece to place within him.
She went to the box she had received what seemed to be only days ago, and removed a small glass heart. It had never beaten before. It had never felt sadness or pain, happiness, joy, or love. Slowly, she pushed the tiny red piece of glass into the chest of the toy man. But nothing happened.
She sat for hours staring at him, hoping something would happen, but it appeared that nothing would. She was about to give up and toss him with her other defeats at the dark edge of the room, when she saw something else glistening in the box.
She poured out this last item and saw it was a tiny metal motor covered in a months worth of dust. The lower portion of the motor was a miniature oven, while on the upper portion there was a small chargeable shard of metal to which the toy man could be affixed. The motor must be what’s needed to start his heart.
She turned the motor over in her hands. But how to power the motor? She eyed the tiny furnace, and realized that she must place something to burn in this portion, to churn the motor, and start the heart of her precious toy man. She glanced around the room, and could think of nothing she could set fire to. She eyed the old note. “YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU WILL NEED!”
Her eyes then slowly drifted to the dark corners of the room. She would have to burn the remnants of her past mistakes in order to get the heart of her new toy working. The task seemed easy enough, but the idea of forever losing these pieces of her past disheartened her. It took a deal of steeling her heart, but eventually she had collected all the pieces in a dustpan. She poured them into the small oven, and they immediately caught flame. The charged piece at the top of the motor glowed a bright blue.
With a gentle hand, she affixed the toy man to the motor and he immediately came to life. His heart beat with a deep thudding, and his eyes came alive. He looked deep into her eyes and her heart exploded with joy.
She had done it. She had brought her perfect toy man to life.
Over the coming months, she taught him her emotions. He learned joy and happiness. He even learned love from the warmth of her heart. He learned pain and loneliness during the short spans when she would have to leave him at the shop. All the while, she continued to feed his heart the broken pieces of her past. He would respond in kind by telling her all the new feelings that had coursed through that tiny glass heart of his.
She found it harder and harder to leave his side, and he depended on her for so much, the least of which was not the pieces she fed into that furnace. But after almost half a year, those pieces were beginning to run low.
The toy maker had attempted to gain some notoriety by showing her toy man off to the vendors in the area. She grew jealous when anyone showed an interest in it, but most simply passed him off as a useless triviality. She had hoped that with him by her side, she could have made a future for herself. The beauty of her discovery would lead to the dreams she had dreamed and longed for, and she would take him with her all the way. But alas this was not the case.
The lack of interest in her little toy man was instead starting to wear on her purse. She would no longer be able to keep running the dilapidated toy shop, and she would need to find a new place to stay the nights. And the nights were getting colder.
More and more of these frigid evenings were spent by the toy man alone in the shop as she tried to find somewhere to take its place. The fire in the furnace was even beginning to cool. The toy man had found that he no longer needed the fire to live and to feel. Without her stoking the fire though, the toy man felt a sharp pain coursing through his body all stemming from that little red piece of glass in his chest. She had tried using other things to burn in the furnace, but nothing had worked. He knew that the pain he felt each night would be all he would feel for a long time.
She arrived one night and tears were streaming down her face. She spoke of a new toy shop, a large corporate run one in town. She could find work and lodging there, but she would have to shut down this shop forever. The toy maker said that the job would pay well and she would have a future there, but that she could not bring him along. They didn’t want her working on some trivial, absurd toy like him.
She went to put something in the toy man’s furnace but found there was absolutely nothing left. The toy man shuddered as a jolt of pain stabbed into his heart.
She took him in trembling hands and tears splashed from her face onto his glossy body. A noise emanated from her that he could almost not comprehend, but he knew was the purest cry of agony. Then, she tossed him away. He felt himself go weightless as he flew gracefully through the air, only to fall in a pile at the dark edge of the room.
The toy maker would not look in his direction, she simply walked to the work bench and closed the blinds of the window above it. The table she had toiled on for so many years was cloaked suddenly in shadow.
The toy man heard her steps slowly move toward the front of the room. He felt the pain in his chest pounding with irregular heart beats as light burst forth from the outside. As she walked through the opened door, the toy man saw a box in his toy maker’s purse. It was a complete package for one of her new toy shop’s toy soldiers. His heart stopped. Then, she walked from the room, closed the door, and he was bathed in utter darkness.
From that day on, the shop would stayed abandoned. There was never a visitor. Never a new tenant. All that could be found there was a broken toy man with a frozen furnace and a chest full of pain.
© 2011 Dennis Shanaberg
Shelved in 1 LibraryAdded on November 19, 2011
Last Updated on November 19, 2011
AboutAbout my Life… It’s a preface far too long For anyone to read. It’s growing longer everyday. Filled with love and laughter, life and greed. I am a writer, for what it's worth.. more..