He used to watch my fingers while I worked. Whether I was assembling some clockwork bagatelle, arranging tiny brass gears or engraving a music box, he never took his eyes off my hands.
He was not an unskilled mechanist himself, just impatient and — if I am being honest — uninspired. Like my brother, Jonath espoused function over form. As long as a device served its purpose, he was satisfied. He took my designs, pared them down, stripped them of their elegance. He was a master at laying things bare.
I tried to show him the poetry in the mechanisms, how beauty improved the function, and how function could be made beautiful, but he only shook his head, laughing.
“I never believed,” he said, “that magic was real. But you have it, my darling, in every finger.” And then he took my hand and kissed each one of my fingers one by one, the palms of my hands, moving his lips up the inside of my wrist and arm to my neck, until I forgot what we had been building altogether.
He scoffed at the idea that I might attend the Academy. “You would be wasted there,” he said, “lost amongst the dusty books and dustier magisters. You’d be shut in a room putting together other men’s clocks.”
Jonath convinced me to put off my application for a year, then another. My brother gave me a workshop, tools, materials — all to keep me close to home. There was even talk of a marriage. Not a church affair, of course, just the standard two-year contract. That was how it was done; that was proper, for a young couple.
I almost agreed. I would have, if he had understood the mechanism that drives me, the form and the function of my ambition. I would have stayed, if magic had been enough to keep me there.
This post is part of the Jade Dragon series. Though I try to make these installments enjoyable as individual pieces, I highly recommend that you read the series from the beginning to really get what’s going on.
This post is also a response to the following Scriptic prompt exchange:
I gave Cheney this prompt: Anna Akhmatova wrote: ‘You will hear thunder and remember me, | And think: “she wanted storms.”‘ Tell us more.