A woman made her way up the mountain path.
Her bangs hung freely. Braids laced the crown of her head, held together with a ribbon of deep, velvety red. Her slender frame was wrapped in a snowy white summer dress tied at the waist.
The dress’ silk, pleated skirt fluttered angelically with each step she took. The emerald brooch affixed at her bosom sparkled.
Over the dress, she wore a sleek, Prussian blue jacket. Her long boots had deepened into a cocoa brown with age. And on this day, as she passed under the white arch of Oscar’s home, she held in her hand a heavy-looking trunk.
Just as the woman stepped into the front garden, a gust of autumn wind bellowed, bringing red, yellow, and brown leaves swirling about her in dancing rings. Her vision seemed to falter, as if these swirling remnants of autumn had pulled a curtain down before her. She reached a hand to the brooch affixed at her breast, squeezed it tight, and intoned in a low voice some words that were eclipsed by those wings of autumn as they continued to flutter excitedly. Having reached no ears, the spoken words melted away into space.
When the mischievous wind died down, the woman seemed to set aside her recent display of uncertainty. She continued on to the entryway with purpose. There she pressed on the buzzer with one finger of a hand encased in black glove.
The house’s bell reverberated like a screech escaped from hell. A moment later, the door opened. The house’s red-haired owner peered out from the gap. It was hard to tell whether he’d just woken up or whether he’d not slept at all. In either case, he was clearly in no state to be receiving guests. His clothing and face were both disheveled. On seeing the woman, Oscar let slip a slight look of surprise. He seemed to have been taken aback by the woman’s most peculiar appearance.
Or perhaps he had been caught off guard by her singular beauty. Whatever the case, he found himself, for a moment, short of breath.
“You’re… the ‘Auto Memories Doll’?”
“That is correct. Please inform me of any assistance you might require, and I will be happy to oblige. Auto Memories Doll Violet Evergarden, at your service.”
The storybook blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty spoke these words with no trace of obsequiousness. Rather, they emanated from her lips with the deep clarity of a well-polished gemstone.
The woman who had identified herself as Violet Evergarden carried herself in quiet beauty, the very essence of a doll. Her blue eyes, laced by eyelashes of golden thread, sparkled with the mysteries of the seabed. From the milk-white skin of her cheek blushed the splendor of cherry petals at their peak. Her rouge-tinted lips glistened invitingly.
Nothing about her was lacking. Her beauty was as full as the moon at its peak.
Had she not blinked, one would have thought she was a static work of art.
Oscar knew nothing about Auto Memories Dolls. The arrangements for Violet’s arrival had been handled entirely by the same friend who had convinced Oscar to take on this new writing job.
“It’ll be delivered in a few days,” he’d said.
And here she was at last.
From the way his friend spoke, Oscar had assumed some small package would arrive at his door, care of the postman. He’d open up the box and inside would be a small, mechanical doll. He was hardly prepared for this thing so lifelike, this… automaton.
How far has civilization progressed while I’ve holed myself up here?
Oscar had never shown particular interest in any of the ways of the world. He read no newspapers or magazines, and he rarely socialized. If it weren’t for the friends who showed concern for him, perhaps his only interaction would have been with the deliveryman from the grocer’s.
Already Oscar was regretting his hasty decision. Clearly he should have spent more time looking into the matter of the doll before giving his consent. The mere thought of having another person in the house meant only for that long-lost family of three did not sit well with him. It was like an unpleasant aftertaste. Another person… or something that resembled one, anyway.
Oscar felt as if he were somehow betraying his family.
Violet, perfectly unaware of any of these thoughts swirling about Oscar’s head, followed him into the living room and set herself down on the sofa when invited. When Oscar offered her tea, she drank it. These modern automatons seemed to be quite advanced.
“What happens to the tea after you drink it?”
Sensing Oscar’s tone of disbelief, Violet gently tipped her head to one side as she answered. “Ultimately it is discharged from my body, after which I believe it returns to the Earth.”
An answer befitting of a machine.
“To tell the truth… I'm at a bit of a loss right now. You’re a bit… different from what I expected.”
Violet glanced down as if to confirm her own appearance, then abruptly stood up from the sofa and returned Oscar’s stare.
“Is there something about me which does not meet your expectations?”
“Uh… well, it’s not exactly my expectations…”
“If the additional wait would not inconvenience you, I can arrange for the dispatch of a different doll, one more suitable to your needs.”
“Ah, no… that’s not what I’m trying to say. Uh, well… let’s just try this out, I suppose. If you can do the work, that’s all that matters. You seem unobtrusive enough.”
“If it pleases you, I will restrict my respiration to the minimally required level.”
“Ah, no, that won’t be necessary.”