Dance of the gypsy automaton


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Thomas entered his study and made his way to his desk. Peering around the piles of debris and schematics he appeared to finally find what he was searching for, he picked up his reading glasses and placed them on his head. Moving toward the door, his brow furrowed by some concerning thought, he was startled when the music box chimed suddenly, like a sudden light thrown on a darkened room, the sound was not unpleasant, but quite unexpected.

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He moved back to the desk and peered down. The automaton dancer gleamed in the moonlight, her hands thrust above her head in a frozen dance of vibrancy and abandon. Her fiery red hair in complete parallel with the fierce countenance of the dancer, committed completely to her dance. In her hands she held a bright blue and silver speckled scarf both transparent and concealing at the self-same time, in a strange paradox that always amused him. “You always did love a good paradox” he said softly to her. He looked for the key, and found it lying below the stand upon the workshop floor. “I should have expected to find it there” If the room was curious it would have to remain so, as Thomas did not explain his strange commentary.

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He placed the key in the lock and wound it. “Sorry, I have been so distracted. Shall we dance?” The doll immediately began moving along the grooves in the base of her stage. The joints on the Automaton were executed minutely, having been fashioned with painstaking precision that could not be found even in Mister Snapple’s most priceless piece. The texture and vibrancy of the dancer was equally exhibited in her craftsmanship. The bold and brilliant hues perfectly suited to the dancers dance.

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She burst into movement, as though her spring had reached the tightest of coils and could no longer be contained. She spun and wheeled, her hands and legs moving gracefully, but expressively in complicated patterns. “Your dance has changed this time” Thomas commented. “Trying a new reel are you?” his warm chuckle dying mid-way as the dancer suddenly lunged forward violently. Her scarf lashing out with barely restrained urgency. The eyes of the dancer though, they were merely enameled paint, seeming to plead with him strangely, as if to convey some extreme warning. Her hands jerked unnaturally on her springs as the dancer turned in a complicated spiral faster and faster, her body a blur that stopped suddenly as her porcelain hands flung the long end of the scarf as far outward as it would go from her body and launched it, where its end floated gently down and draped itself across an old framed photograph. “The photograph?” Thomas muttered to himself. His brow furrowed once more, his eyes took on a hint of surprise, but then relaxed again, the thought casually discarded.

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The dancer yanked the cloth back to herself and continued to move her body. Flicking the scarf again toward the picture frame. Thomas, sighed. “I’m sorry you are angry with me for being away so long. I had a backlog of work. I’ll try to be more reasonable in future.” The doll continued her dance, her feet moving less gracefully as the dancer slapped the stage with her toes pointed down. Finally the key wound down. Thomas moved to wind it again, but the dancer ended her performance by dropping her upper body down into a crouch at her feet and splaying her hands along the floor of her stage in a deep bow, head down and shoulders slumped as if deeply fatigued. Then, her head suddenly lifted toward him pointing her chin into the sky her eyes seeming to display angry defiance. As the last note faded, the music box key ejected from its keyhole, as though flung by a frustrated hand and landed with a metallic ping onto the workroom floor once more.

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Thomas gazed down at the upturned face he loved so dearly, a mixture of concern and deep puzzlement encompassing him. Her expression had him glancing, once more, at the picture frame. “No, it cannot be” he whispered, but already his hand was extending to pick up the frame. He gazed at the people in the photograph Himself, Leonora, and 2 others, friends from long ago. “No, it cannot be” he repeated, but this time, it carried a somewhat despairing tone. Softly, as if pleading with fate, he uttered one word, it was a name. The music box pinged one final time, its chime mournful, like the sound of a single teardrop.

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