As his fingers fumble to put the springs, gears, and knobs together, he realizes he is getting old. His warped fingers do not move quite as quick and exact as they used to. As a matter-of-fact, their appearance has changed drastically. His once agile and accommodating fingers now appear as though they have been crushed and mangled, possibly broken, yet can still allow him to continue his most precious hobby. He prefers to say it is his hobby although one may call it a job since he often receives thanks in rather large cash payments. He is what is now called a restorer.
His job is to restore things. All kinds of things. He takes old items, antiques even, and tinkers with their pieces and materials and everything leaves his workshop looking shiny and brand new. He is, in fact, very talented at restoration. It is almost as though he can communicate with the objects and will them to transform rather than tear them apart and physically piece them back together. His workshop currently is exceptionally cluttered. It is a busy week. Shelves and shelves and shelves line the walls, all full of a variety of objects to in turn be renewed. There is everything from chairs to old television sets, books to cameras, and clothing to light bulbs. And currently, he is working on a very old grandfather clock.
This clock came in from a dear friend of his. Years ago, they were in grade school together and Richard was his best friend. From bullies to girls to adventures, they went through it all together. So he decided to spend some extra time on this clock. As he pinches the gears back into place and begins to shine the wooden exterior, he thinks about how he enjoys what he does. He loves what he does because it is all so personal. The objects he deals with are people’s most cherished possessions. They are thrown into his hands just like that and he is trusted to care for these items. He smiles when he imagines how happy Richard will be when he sees his restored clock.
He soon finishes up, walks up the stairs, and shuts the lights in his workshop. It is very late and he is feeling particularly exhausted. He quickly guzzles a glass of water and changes out of his clothes. As his fingers fumble once again while struggling to button his flannel shirt, he thought about his father. His father had been an innovator in everything he did. He always came up with the most abstract and wonderful ideas and found ways to apply them to his daily life. His father had also been an inventor. He created the very first television set and a gathering of much smaller contraptions. When they come in for restoring, he feels horrible for renewing the models his father once created but he hopes his father would forgive him. It is very enjoyable to transform items, but he had always hoped to come up with a bright idea comparable to one of his father’s. He felt that he had disappointed his father. He sighed a sigh of loneliness and a sigh of fatigue as he drifted off to sleep.
He begins a very fitful sleep and wakes up several times during the night. Finally, he falls into a deep, calming sleep and a strange dream begins. He is strolling along a field. Then, before his eyes, the flowers and plants all slowly turn grey and then black and die. Naturally, he tries to see if there is anything he can do. He touches a single flower and watches as it grows and the colors flush from the middle out. It came to life at his touch. He continues to do this when he hears loud noises behind him. A large white pony is galloping towards him and he stands up from where he was kneeling. As it gets closer and closer he notices a narrow cone stuck to the pony’s head, almost like a unicorn. He also sees a man struggling to escape the pursuit of the horse-like creature. The man spots him and calls out right as the pony thrusts the cone neatly through the man’s chest. The man falls. He feels fearful but walks over to the man as the creature dashes away. He checks the man’s pulse quickly and feels nothing. The man is dead. Then, for a reason unknown to him, he reaches and touches the man’s face as he touched the flower. The man’s eyes begin to flutter and open as he awakens from this sleep with a great new idea: He will restore the human life.
He felt empowered enough to begin this new project right then and there when he awoke but remembering that he is no longer a young man, he realized he would be asleep again mid-afternoon without additional rest. He drifted back into a light sleep and came to when the sun was just beginning to come out of hiding. He jumped out of bed in a wistful excitement to get to work. He once again fumbles with his buttons as he changes into clothes suitable for performing his craft. He rummages through pots and pans searching for just the right one. He has decided that eggs would be a delightful way to celebrate his grand idea. As he cracked the eggs on the side of the pan, he thought about the visionary moment in his dream when the man’s eyes flickered open. During his breakfast, he thought. He thought and he planned. He came up with more questions than answers. But he wasn’t worried. He knows he has a talent for restoration and believes it is possible to achieve his goal.
He enters his workshop and notices a light layer of dust covering the cluttered shelves on his right but he doesn’t have time for such insignificant things as dust this morning. This will be very different from any of his other projects, much more complicated, and hopefully with the greatest reward. He gathers all the necessary materials and pushes everything else on the table aside, causing a flurry of dust to settle elsewhere. He will first attempt to restore the life of small creatures such as invertebrates, frogs, and birds. On his first try, it works. He has transformed an old bird with damaged feathers into a young and animated bird. He wonders how on earth he got so lucky to discover something as incredible as this. He rests and listens to the young bird’s chirping while he thinks about how proud his father would be if he could witness his son’s miracle. He notices his back is beginning to ache much earlier in the day than usual. Oh, how he would love to be young again…If it worked on the bird, could it work on himself also? He feels that although it may be dangerous, who better to experiment on, for he doesn’t want to harm someone else.
Not yet noon, he takes his time preparing for his most precarious restoration ever. He begins to formulate a procedure, making sure to consider and embrace every aspect of his childhood in hopes of reaching it once again. He will create a dosage of his past life in a medicinal form. He will then proceed to consume this and trick life into letting him live over again beginning as a young boy. He dreams of the day he will be once again be able to race the neighborhood boys around the park, climb trees, and easily button his shirt buttons every day. The chance to live twice as long would be a ground-breaking discovery. All the highest officials will bow down to his child form holding the secret in his small, powerful hands.
As he pieces it all together, he feels as though he is forgetting something but is not sure what that detail could be. Every time he is sure that he has finished, it fractures and disintegrates into a million little specks of memories, emotions and dreams. There must be some sort of his past psychological life missing. Finally, he’s got it! He had forgotten to include the little thoughts that creep into our minds as we fall asleep. Those thoughts that come to us as we are in between the states of consciousness and a dream world, the thoughts that are never recollected when we awake, and once he added them to his concoction, it was complete.
He begins to prepare some sort of note, in fear of a dreadful case in which his miracle did not work. He wrote to Richard because he simply did not know who else to address the letter to. He seals the envelope. Without another thought, he swallows the thick, bitter liquid. The taste was fairly unpleasant and reminded him of cough syrup his mother would give him when he had caught a cold. This memory gave him a little more confidence that it was working. At first, he was drunk with his vision of fame and fortune and living a lavish life. But, after a few minutes he began to feel a strange churning deep in his stomach and aches in several other parts of his old body. This must be my body shedding these dreadful wrinkles in return for youthful skin, he thinks to himself. After an hour’s struggle with intense abdominal pain and full body sweats, he begins to think a bit differently. If life could be repeated, it would not be as cherished as it is. He began to think “stupid, stupid, wretched old man!” and he hated himself then. He whispers aloud in the cluttered room only inhabited by himself and his bird, “Life is too precious, life is too delicate…to restore” and he begins to wheeze. The old man crumples to the floor laden with mistaken hope.