Broken Things (a short story)

Hello to all humans, creatures and robotic entities!

I’ve got a little something for you! As you probably know if you follow this blog, I’ve struggled a whole lot with my health and that has meant I don’t update and produce a lot. BUT! Renaissance is running a Kickstarter campaign to finance the release of its first anthology, called We Shall Be Monsters, an EXCELLENT collection of short stories celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (you should definitely check it out!) and I’ve written an original story to help promote it. You can listen to a recording of it right here, and you will find the story written below.


Broken Things

by Nathan Frechette

I am made of fear.

When I awaken, the world is bright, and wet, and loud. I cling to him when he gets me down, because he is warm, and he is alive, and I am alone. But he pushes, and scratches, and hits.

I am made of wonder and delight.

The world is colourful, full of the sweet scents of flowers and pine, the song of birds, the caress of the wind. I want to see and feel and smell all the living things, take them in my arms.

When he finds me, all I feel is the sharp crack of his cane. I have gone too far, he says. I mustn’t be seen. If I am seen, I will be killed.

I am made of the flesh of dead things, dug up from the earth.

This I know, because he has said so. He has made me, created me from things he found, sewn together against their will, sparked to life in violent fire from the skies. He regrets his creation. He has explained that the dead things in me is what makes me ugly. Stupid. Defective. Incomplete. I call him father, he calls me failure.

He curses me for being alive, yet I was not the one who made me this way. I try to please him in every way, but nothing is enough.

I am made of bitter disappointment.

Pain is my only companions, the only things which remain after everything else is gone. Some of the pain I was born with, cut and stitched into my flesh; but most of it was given to me by his science and his fists, and the more broken I am, the more he hates me; the more he hates me, the more he breaks me.

And I bite my tongue and say nothing, because more than anything else, I still want him to love me.

But he has made me a thing he is incapable of loving. A thing that no one is capable of loving.

When he finally thinks I am dead at his hands, one day, I crawl away, because I have decided I would rather be alive than be loved.

I am made of hunger, and rags, and bone, and shadows.

I hide, and cower, and starve. I try to beg, but receive more sneers than coin. I cannot sell my body, because it is broken, twisted, too large, ugly. I move in the night, searching through other people’s refuse. At first, I do it for food; but as time goes by, I find pretty things. I find the way they fit together, and I build animals, and dolls. I sell them on the markets, and I love the delight of the little children who receive them as presents as much as I like the money.

I am made of hope and fear.

I gather all the coin I do not use for food. There is eventually enough for a stall, and then, a shop. I make larger dolls, mannequins, statues; people come from all over the world to see my work. They bring me stones, and silver, and clay, and wax for me to work with, making creatures of beauty they have never seen before, hoping that some of the beauty in my work attenuates the ugliness of my skin.

And it does, to an extent. Though the parents are still wary, the children’s smiles are turned toward me, toward my twisted, broken hands, still capable of weaving the wonders which live in my heart, in my mind, in my eyes. Their voices and exclamations fill my heart, and even though I am alone when I lock the doors and turn out the lights at night, I am content.

I learn to make limbs to replace the broken and missing parts of myself. They are no longer dead, broken things; I make them dazzling, colourful and brilliant, and they help me feel at ease with the rest of my body. I walk a little taller; I learn to smile.

I am made of light and the first true pieces of myself.

The first time I meet another like me, he is just a child. He is not made of dead things but he is made of violence, and pain, and I can see it burning behind his eyes. It is his heart that needs mending, and I invite him in, setting to the task diligently. I’ve never attempted to fix a heart before; it is a delicate thing, a heart. A spark of joy here, a silken patch of love there, all tied together with a thin, golden thread of hope. It is the best I can do, and it is so, so very fragile, as all hearts are.

“I cannot repay you,” he says. “I have nothing.”

“You are worth it. Do you need a place to stay? You can be my assistant.”

“But I cannot create lovely things like you do”

“You are valued because of who you are, not because of what you can do. You do not need to produce anything to be deserving of love.

I am made of compassion and love for others who would know my pain.

Others come afterwards: the beaten, broken, bruised by life; the ones who are cast out, rejected. I mend their bodies and their mind, building new parts from beautiful, discarded things, and most of all, we fill each other’s loneliness.

I am made of the warmth of my own hearth and of the love of those I have chosen as my family

We are each other’s children, and siblings, and parents; all the people who should have loved us, but didn’t. All the people who should have supported us, who should have understood us, but didn’t. We share each other’s pain, our history, our need for love and companionship. And I have gathered them all.

I am father now. I am home. I will love, and be loved, with no conditions.

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