He had just finished clearing out the woods of the thorny vines before deciding it was about time for a rest. Since becoming defunct as a war soldier, he spent years trying to figure out what to do now that his sole purpose was rendered void. He discovered joy in the small things – feeding the blue jays and squirrels, watching the rain fall, seeing the ripples on a pond surface as fish dart around below. Yet he felt there was more that he wanted, more to his existence that could be found. He had set off to wander the world, discovering new sights, new people, new emotions.
And so, this is how he found himself in front of an old and decrepit castle, hidden behind the wall of thorns that had overgrown the land. Curiosity – a feeling he learnt not too long ago – drove him to trudge towards the weathered stone steps leading up to the old wooden front door. A gentle push was enough to open it as he made his way inside, careful not to hit his head on the dusty chandelier above. The place was old, probably pre-war era, yet it retained a sense of charm and elegance underneath the cobwebs and dust. Careful of the stone steps, he tested his weight on one before slowly climbing up to the first floor, looking through the rooms in intrigue. Candelabras, jewelled combs, and ornate mirrors lay strewn about the rooms, as if scattered in haste. The largest room at the end of the hallway had a beautiful satin bed and intricate patterned wardrobe. He sat down gently on the bed letting out a sigh as he fell back onto the soft mattress, closing his eyes to rest.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
Startled, he instinctively shot up, his guns goaded and ready to defend himself. Yet there was no-one in sight. Except…
“Put those down or so help me! Is that how you treat a lady?” With that, the wardrobe moved, suddenly rearing up taller, the patterns shifting and now resembling a face as the legs stretched longer.
“Are you … a talking wardrobe?” he asked incredulously.
“That’s Madame de la Grande Bouche to you, although I am fine with just Madame.” She puffed up her chest, eyeing the odd guest in front of her.
“And… I... yes, I guess I am a wardrobe.” Madame sighed dejectedly, the empty hangers inside clinking as she shrunk back a little, resting down onto the ground. She seemed to sit there, lost in thought.
He took a second to process what he had just seen. There have been many odd creatures he had come across but this one is a first. Yet it seemed … troubled.
“I used to be a human; you know. But now look at me!” She rattled her handles in frustration as one of the doors sprung open. There was a sadness to her voice, a familiar tone of uncertainty and loss.
“Now am this, stuck as a wardrobe for probably the rest of time. I could live with no more opera or singing, even no more makeup. But I can’t even enjoy the simple pleasures of life, the rain on my skin, the taste of fresh strawberries, the smell of dusty books. What kind of life is that…?”
He watched as she tried to close the door that had sprung open in vain. In a way, she was like him. Stuck in a body, but not your body.
“I see, you are indeed a wardrobe. But you are also human, correct?” She nodded wearily. He pointed towards himself, the clank of metal on metal as he tapped his chest.
“There is no heart here, nor brain. My body is but metal and wires and my purpose was war. Yet here I am - sentient. I may seem human - I see, I feel, I cry, I laugh. I can feel joy and I can feel pain, the curiosity like that of a child, the anger like that of a spurned bride, the dread of a man with but one more breath left. Yet however much I wish to be, on the inside I will never be truly human.” He gestured toward her.
“You are beautiful as a human on the inside, I am sure. You are beautiful as a wardrobe too. Your outside may not match what you feel like on the inside but that does not change who you were and who you still are. Even if you stay forever the shape of a wardrobe, you are and will always be a human. And for that you are blessed with what I can never be, Madame.”
She was silent, contemplating his words.
“You know, that is the kindest thing I have heard in a while. Who would have thought a metal golem could be so wise?” There was a little creak as she let out a small laugh.
“That was very kind of you… oh I’m sorry, I never did catch your name. What was it?”