At every meal, she gazed at him quietly and did not say a word.
Even when he invited her to join him, she politely, yet firmly, refused. “Thank you, but I will take my own meal afterward.” He had seen her consume liquid that first day, but he had yet to see her eat solid food. Perhaps that was beyond her scope. He briefly fancied her guzzling down mineral oil during those meals she insisted taking in strict privacy. The thought of it spawned a series of surreal images in his mind.
There’s really no need to exercise all this restraint. I wish you’d just sit down and have a meal together with me.
Oscar mulled the words over in his mind but could never quite bring them to voice. Violet was nothing like his late wife. Yet Oscar often found himself watching the back of her slender frame as she worked in the kitchen, and when he did, he was filled with a strange sense of familiarity. If he stared too long, he’d be struck by an excess of melancholy, and tears would inexplicably well in his eyes. This addition of a new person in Oscar’s world had led him to quite an unexpected realization.
I’ve been leading an ever-so-lonely life.
The elation of meeting Violet at the doorway when she returned from some errand... The secure feeling that he was not alone in that house when he went to bed at night... The reality that Violet was there, always there, whenever he opened his eyes... All these things impressed upon him the extent of his previous isolation.
He had his money, and he found nothing wanting in his lifestyle. But in truth, his comforts brought no sense of enrichment. In fact, they were hardly more than a thin, final sheet trying vainly to guard his downtrodden heart against any more abuse.
Certainly, they were doing nothing to heal those wounds.
Someone was there, and that someone–even if not a person with whom he was yet particularly close–was waking up in the morning in just the same place and at just the same time as he was.
Such thoughts pierced the heart Oscar had kept tightly closed for so long.
Violet was a ripple upon Oscar’s stagnant life. She brought no strife, but her very presence was a slight change to the waters of his lake. A cold, lifeless stone had struck the surface, and somehow it had brought a warm current to his monotony, to his sluggish pool. He feigned not knowing whether this change was good or bad. But if pressed, he just might have been ready to admit the likelihood of it being for the better.
At the very least, the melancholy unearthed by Violet’s presence and the tears it wrought were somehow warmer than the feelings and tears he had bled before.
When there were only three days left with Violet, Oscar finally lifted himself out of idleness. One certain scene had been responsible for this long stewing.
Oscar had charged Violet with a tale of adventure and mystery. At its head was a young, lone heroine. Her travels far and wide were filled with faces and encounters of every type. And over the course of her journey, she became something more than she had been before.
The template for this heroine was Oscar’s late daughter. At the end of the tale, she returned to the home she had left so long ago. And at that home, her elderly father sat waiting. Yet when the heroine appeared, now a splendid young woman so far beyond the little girl of the past, not even her own father could recognize her.
With tear-stained cheeks, the heroine would plead with her father. “Don’t you remember?” And here she would repeat the promise she had made to him so long ago: the promise to dance across the fallen leaves strewn across the surface of their lake.
“It is quite impossible for a human to walk across water.”
“I need a visual to work with. Please. In the story, she’ll be able to do it because of help from the water spirit–the one whose protection she received during the journey.”
“Even if that’s the case… I’m hardly suitable for this sort of thing. The girl of the story is lighthearted and charming. She’s sweetly innocent. She’s in complete contrast to me.”
The novelist and the Auto Memories Doll had come to a head.
It was all because of a request made by Oscar. He’d asked Violet to dress up like the heroine and to splash around in the water along the lakeshore next to his cottage. He’d already asked her to clean his house, to do his laundry, to take care of all his household chores. And now came this. It was as if he expected her to be outfitted for anything.
Violet, who had until now played the part of the cool-headed working woman, had finally reached her limit. “You’re simply impossible.”
“Your hair, it’s almost the same blonde as my daughter’s. If you were to let it down and to put on a summer dress, then it’d be just…”
“Sir… my purpose, first and foremost, is to serve as a scribe. I am an Auto Memories Doll. I am neither your wife nor your mistress. I am not capable of acting as a substitute for anyone else.”
“I, I know that. I’m not about to get any undue ideas about a young thing like you. It’s just that your… the way you look… I mean, if my daughter were still alive, she’d be just about your height, and… I’d just thought…”
Violet, who had up to that point rejected the very idea earnestly, suddenly faltered. Her expression wavered visibly.
“...I had assumed this was an expression of your peculiar… tastes. I had not realized you’d lost a daughter.”
Violet chewed her lip. Her face betrayed a struggle of conscience.
Over these past few days, Oscar had realized something about Violet. In the battle of good and evil, she clearly stood on the side of good.
“I am an Auto Memories Doll… I exist to execute the desires of my clients… yet I feel as if this request is in conflict with my professional decorum…”
Watching her mumble the pros and cons over by herself, Oscar felt a twinge of regret, yet he decided to try one final push.