Six months it had been since her mother's passing, and six long months it had been since her father had buried herself in his work. It had been entirely unexpected, her mother's illness had come so suddenly and ravaged her body so completely in such a short time that the doctor's had been able to do little but to fill her with drugs and inject her with medications that mercifully eased her pain and spared her the agony which Amelie was sure the woman had felt. Six months it had been since they'd buried her. And six months it had been that her father had kept himself locked inside his workroom, tinkering day and night at what the young woman was unsure.
Tinkering was what her father was known for. What had begun in childhood with nothing more than the desire to create for himself a canine companion as his mother had refused to allow anything so beastly as a mongrel into her household had quickly turned into an undeniable passion to invent. First it was simple creatures. When a canine had proved a bit more complicated to create than he'd expected at the tender age of six, it had been a clockwork canary that was his first success. From there he'd move onto more complex creatures until at the age of seventeen he'd created his first two-legged servant. While far short of perfection as it seemed not quite capable of performing all the tasks required of a maid or a butler, and one could not quite call it human-like as was the intent, it had been a start. And soon the wealthy were seeking him out to create the very same them. A manner of saving the small fortunes that were spent on a servants salary.
Though even in this day and age such a meager amount of pay could hardly be described as a fortune. But then the rich were quite peculiar. Or so her father had always commented and most of their sensibilies were far from what the word suggested. Sensible they were by no means.
Lucien Thorne was by all accounts a brilliant man. A bit off in the head to be sure as anyone who had ever met him would attest to. But whereas before his wife's death, he had been a vibrant cheerful man with youthful good looks that belied his 46 years; The months and weeks following his wife's death had taken their toll. Sleepless night and the grief and guilt he felt had given him a haggard tired look. The man who once looked to be ten years younger than his true age, now had the visage of a man ten years older.
For six months Amelie had been left to deal with the clockwork shop alone while her father buried himself his work. And in six months she'd managed to bring them to the verge of bankruptcy. Amelie did not have her father's brilliance by any means. Nor did she have any understanding at all of his work. When they would question the working of a particular mechanism they desired to purchase, she truly had no answers for them. Her father had been of little help as no matter what time it was she went to him for help, it never did seem to be a good time. A knock on his workroom door would inevitably lead to a curt response of, 'Now is not the time.'
But it never did seem there was a time. Today however, Amelie was not taking no for an answer. Rapping quite firmly on the door with her knuckles, she calls through the door to him in a decidedly determined manner. "Father?! I really must insist that you open the door! It's high time you and I had a..." And her eyes grow wide as saucers as before she can finish her sentence she finds the door flung open and she standing face to face with her father who had the oddest smile upon his face. "...talk." She finishes. Though it seemed rather unnecessary to say.
"Talk?" He goes on, his smile growing stranger by the moment. "Of course darling. We can talk about anything you like? Tell me what's on your mind." He steps back toward one of his work tables where he begins to polish up a key.
"I..." Amelie begins, unsure of where to go from there. Her entire speech to him about this grief, this locking himself up in his workroom day in and day out, his responsibility to the shop...all the things she had in mind to discuss with him completely wiped from her mind as she sees there in the middle of the room seated in a chair, the figure of a clockwork woman. But it was not just any woman he'd styled it after. Most of his creations were rather nondescript. This one however, for all the sharp edge edges of the metal where it had been bent and melded together, for all the rivets and gears which shaped it, looked for all the world like the image of her mother.
Unable to contain her amazement, she crosses the room in quick strides until she is standing just before it, leaning forward, her palms resting on the thick layers of skirts covering her thighs. Though it was cold and mechanical as she reached out her fingers to touch the shiny polished brass of it's 'cheek' , the thing was eerily lifelike in some respects. "So this is what you've been working on." She murmurs softly. "The likeness is remarkable..." Her voice trails off. There was no doubt in her mind he'd spent all six months working on this very thing. Something which caused her even deeper concern for his mental state. It was then her father had come across with the key, placing it in the back and turning it.
At that very moment its metal eyelids pop wide open and Amelie jumps back with a start, bringing her hand to her lips with a shock. Those eyes staring back at her were no simple glass ones as her father had always used. They were real, and very much her mother's. " For the love of...what have you done father?"
Eyes are the windows to the soul, or so was her fathers explanation. All week those words had kept running through her mind as her 'new mother' as her father had so dubbed the clockwork woman. He'd been more than pleased with his work. 'Mother' now sat with them for each and every meal and her father would get caught up in conversation with her quite easily. They were one sided conversations at best, as there was very little the clockwork being could say. Her vocabulary was limited at best and often times cut short by a terrible whirring noise, or the fact that she'd simply run out of steam so to speak.
It was at those times her father would fly into a near panic, nearly toppling over his chair in his haste to wind up her once more. Having her new 'Mother' now was nothing more than a source of distress for Amelie. More for the fact her father had become so obssessed with her, and less due in fact to the eyes which now seemed to stare right through her.
It was on one particular day that her father had insisted Amelie spend some time with 'Mother' that things had taken an even worse turn in their lives. The morning had been relatively uneventful as immediately after cleaning up the breakfast, Amelie had put on her Sunday best to go shopping. A typical sort of mother daughter activity, which left Amelie mildly distraught upon returning home. Even in the shops the clockwork woman had insisted upon being called 'Mother' in an odd sort of manner and she'd refused to leave one dress shop in particular when Amelie had declined to address her in such a manner.
Finally the young woman had relented and told the clockwork woman what she wanted to hear. Though if she could even truly understand what she was doing had Amelie's mind spinning. Clockworks weren't supposed to behave in such a manner. They did as they were told. Nothing more or less than that and often didn't even do it quite well. This one seemed to have a mind of it's own. Though such a thought was absolutely absurb, and Amelie had forced herself to dismiss the idea completely.
With a deep sigh she turns the key into the lock of her father shop. Fully intending to have further discussion with him on the matter of 'Mother.' There was something very wrong about her. And Amelie wanted to be rid of her completely. "Father? Could we talk please?" She calls out. Stepping into the shop and reaching up to slip out the pin which held her hat in place, taking that and setting it aside on a counter, ignoring the ticking and clicking and whirring of the unusually active mechanical birds that were tweeting and chirping quite loudly.
"Odd..." She remarks offhandedly, glancing around the shop as she heads toward the backroom where her father usually was to be found on Sundays, pouring over drawings and blueprints for his next greatest creation. But there instead she find the shelves empty as well as his desk. Every scrap of paper gone missing but for one waste bin left on the floor with bits of ash in it where something must have been burned. His chair was upturned and it looked very much as though he'd been trying to hide something. Upon further inspection there on the corkboard affixed to the wall was pinned an hastily scrawled note which she tears down and quickly reads over.
"Gone on holiday. Father."
"Gone on holiday?!" A frown creases her brow as she exclaims quite indignantly. "What on earth is that supposed to mean? Gone on holiday..." She scoffs, crinkling up the paper in one gloves hand before she the hatbox she'd been carrying by it's string onto the floor and uses both hands now to smooth the paper out. There was simply no possible way that her father had just gone on holiday.