The Little White Tiger

I had often asked my creator (Kashes, he called himself) what he thought of his newest doll. He never did give me a straight answer. Kashes would always smile at me and say, "It's certainly something, isn't it, Yume?" or "I can't help but ask myself that, too."

The back room of the toy shop was dark from the gloomy weather outside. Even so, it didn't hinder my creator's work on his latest project. It was made from the melded bones of dead animals, and sanded down to human like limbs. The doll that sat on the large work table had an odd shade of blue for hair and closed eyes. The moment Kashes finished his doll, he whispered the words of magic. It sounded a little different from the usual incoherent ramble he would prattle off. I watched from my perch on the bookshelf, and waited for the doll to move.

Moments passed, but the doll stayed still. The anticipation in the air slowly shriveled up as the grandfather clock continued to tick. I shifted my gaze to my creator, and watched his shoulders slowly sag. Another failure, I supposed. While it certainly wasn't the first time, I could sense the vague disappointment and relief Kashes expressed on his face.

My creator spent a good five minutes just standing listlessly in front of the doll, before sighing. He stopped at my shelf and held his hand out to me, "Come here, Yume. There is work to be done."

I pushed myself to my fluffy paws and tumbled out of the bookshelf. Kashes held me firmly before placing me on his shoulder as he stepped out to the lobby of his toy shop.

The toy shop my creator owned was a small one, but it had a nice welcoming atmosphere. It wasn't the most known in the kingdom since it resided at the border, but Kashes didn't mind. The windows were lined with potted flowers and various toys for small children. He had multiple shelves lining the walls, filled with various toys. I had always loved how he filled the shelf behind his counter with hundreds of books and round, little toy bears and rabbits. For hours, all I heard were the sounds of my creator shuffling around his shop. He reorganized the still stuffed animals and little toy trains in various places, and lit the candles of his small chandelier.

The peaceful day that I relished seemed to change when the back door to the shop suddenly opened. My creator didn't look up from the letters on his counter and spoke with a casual tone, "Welcome to Hestearia! How may—"

The moment Kashes looked up, his voice faltered. He looked around in confusion before looking behind him. I craned my neck to see his blue eyes widen and his mouth agape. There, standing at the door was the doll with its green eyes wide and curious. I didn't realize that I stared at it until I heard Kashes swallow.

"Bytheheavens," he spluttered as he took a step back. I perked my ears at his strange sentence, but he quickly placed a forced smile on his face, "I see you're awake now. How are you feeling?"

He took a moment to lock the door and flipped his sign to 'Closed'. I kept my eyes trained on the doll as I felt my body tense. It shifted its gaze on my creator, but stayed silent. Kashes walked up to it, and knelt to its height, "Come now, I won't hurt you. I promise."

The doll hesitantly looked at me before it approached my creator. Kashes took the doll's hands into his and followed a familiar process. He moved every balled joint visible on the doll, checking for odd sounds and clicks. My eyes locked with the doll's eyes as my creator muttered his observations.

"Well, everything seems to be in working order," he said, getting to his feet. He held the doll's hand in his own, "Come, let's get you dressed."

As Kashes walked to the back, I shifted on my creator's shoulder and leapt to the counter. Flicking my tail, I settled on my haunches while I waited for them to return. I couldn't help but wonder what Kashes was thinking. I didn't think that he was comfortable with his newest creation. I won't deny that it concerned me.

My ears perked when the two returned. The doll was dressed in simple clothes I remembered Kashes wearing years ago. The shirt and pants had covered the obvious joints and the gloves on its hands were old hand-me downs. If I didn't know any better, I would've sworn that the doll was one of those things called "children".

"There. How does he look, Yume?" my creator asked me.

I gave him a flat stare, "I don't know—a children?"

"Close enough." Kashes was about to say more, but the doll approached the counter with his eyes wide with curiosity. I blinked rapidly as it reached out for me.

"Wait—hold on—stop!" I squealed as the doll gathered me in its arms. I wrestled against its grip, but it held me securely. By the heavens, the doll's arms were certainly stiff and it didn't budge.

I heard my creator laugh at my misfortune, "I see that you've found my oldest stuffy."

"Stuffy…?" the doll questioned. I yowled in frustration as Kashes scratched my ears. If I had claws, I would've scratched both of them.

Kashes laughed a little as he gave an explanation, "This little tiger is Yume. She was made with the finest fur of a winter tiger. Her eyes were crafted by the finest glass smith with fragments of aquamarine. Her stuffing was the softest cotton that I could find. She is my finest stuffed animal I have made."

I could see the pride in his eyes as proof that he wasn't lying.

"Yume…" The doll tilted its head and pointed to itself, "My… name…?"

I felt Kashes' hand freeze on my ear. His face had a flash of worry, before it was replaced with another smile. "Your name? I wonder what it is myself, too."

Kashes never gave the doll a name, nor did it bother to give itself one. Instead, it spent the rest of the day holding me as it helped my creator with managing the toy shop. I won't deny that I annoyed me greatly, and it didn't stop myself from showing my frustration. The doll never flustered every time I swiped my fluffy paws in front of his nose.

By the time evening came by, Kashes had finally saved me from the doll's suffocating hands. The doll was somewhere in the back, tasked with catching runaway bunnies. Those little patch bunnies were bundles of energy, so I was sure that the doll had its hands full.

The mischief quieted down when there was a knock at the door. We both shared a look of confusion before Kashes set his broom to the side.

"I'm sorry, but I'm closed for today-" Kashes was cut off as the knocks came again. I rolled to my paws and narrowed my eyes. Something wasn't right. He looked back to me and gestured for me to stay still. I quickly sat up and stiffened my body, capturing the perfect image of a stuffed tiger—or at least I hoped so.

Kashes ran a hand through his hair and unlocked the door, "By the heavens, I'm closed for today and—"

"Good evening, Mr. Gilsworth," interrupted a voice. I tried not to move in surprise as a cloaked man with a top hat soaked in rain stood at the entrance. "I hope the year has been treating you well."

Kashes was silent for a moment before his light hearted composure quickly changed. He leaned against his doorframe with his arms crossed and his stance guarded, but his tone was still light, "What does the king's dog want with me?"

"Hm. Then you did receive His Majesty's letter," the man mused, "Tell me, has it been done?"

I did my best to keep still as the back door suddenly opened, and the doll marched out.

"Mr. Kashes, I—" the doll began, but my creator was quick to silence it.

"Stay where you are!" he spluttered, not bothering to turn around. I could hear a quake in my creator's voice. The doll faltered for a moment, before giving me a confused look. I could do nothing but just silently beg the doll to stay. There was a strange laugh from the man that sent shivers down my back.

"What's this? Are you defying a direct order from His Majesty?"

"The last time I checked, your 'king' was just a friend of mine. I serve no one."

"Yet you went through with it." The man's hat tipped back as he looked over Kashes, "He looks just like the little prince who 'ran away'."

I blinked my eyes in surprise, twisting my head to look at the doll. A prince? It? No— it had to be a crude joke. No prince would look anything a children. The doll moved behind the counter and took a hold of me. I could feel its hands trembling and I couldn't blame it. We could both feel the tense atmosphere from our creator and the strange man.

Kashes suddenly buckled. His knees crashed to the floor and he let out an odd pitched sound. The doll's grip around me tightened when our creator didn't get back up after a few seconds. There was a small glint of silver that caught my eye in the strange man's hands, and I felt a spike of fear.

"Unlike you, Mr. Gilsworth, I have a king to serve." Shock riddled my stuffed body as the man stepped over Kashes. The doll took several steps back as the man advanced. I felt its fear meld with my own. We both cowered as the man reached for its arm.

"And I have a prince to return."

I am currently in college and entered a class that required me to write a short story. I rewrote an old one and turned it into something completely new. I hope this is a lot better than the first one.