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art by Cheryl L Owen-Wilson

The Final Seam

She turned the head back right side out. She smoothed the features into place as she worked the stuffing in. She positioned the eyes, popped them into place, then adjusted the eyelids and lashes around them. After adding the last of the stuffing, she lined up the edges of what was going to be the final seam and took a deep breath.
This was the last step. True, there was work to be done after the last stitch: cheek and lip shading, hair, and she thought this one might need freckles. But the head seam was the last make-or-break point. Mistakes there could be hidden in the hair well enough to pass a visual scrutiny, but you never knew when a child was going to be tactilely oriented, and once a seam was found, the illusion was destroyed. She knew that firsthand, and she was never going to ruin a childhood the way hers had been.
She picked up her threaded needle, breathed deeply once more, then put the needle back down when the breath didn't loosen the muscles that had tightened in her chest. Time for a break. If she didn't relax that final seam was going to be a disaster.
After brushing the backs of her fingers down the side of the nearly finished face, she left Assembly and went to the Employee Lounge. Her hand combed through her hair as she walked over to the vending machines. While she decided between a blueberry muffin and a bag of pretzels, her fingernails dragged over the ridged scar along the top of her scalp. It always seemed to itch when she got near the end of a project.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014


I actually intended this to be longer. I had three other plot points in mind, but when the story says it's done, it's a bad idea to argue.

- T. Callihan

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