Jennie sewed herself a man. Two winters it took, piecing together the leather patches with painstakingly neat stitches. She made him beautiful because she was not, and with every stitch she poured her frustrated and misunderstood love into the undertaking.
The old women spoke of stitched men as they sat around the Walpurgisnacht fire. They said if you wanted your muppet to live you had to prick your finger and blood his lips by the light of a gibbous moon. And then, they said, you had to bind him to your will lest he find a more attractive mate.
Mostly unbelieving, Jennie smeared the blood anyway. She thought herself dreaming when her love began to breathe.
“Did you create me?” His voice was deep and slow.
“And am I bound to your will, mistress?”
Jennie shook her head. It came to her that if you love truly you cannot bind the other half of your soul. You can only hope.
“No. I would not bind you. You are free. Be happy.”
He looked down at her for what seemed to be a very long time. So long that she could see her stitches fading as life itself sprung into every fibre of the man who stood before her.
By the time he was ready to speak, Jennie was sure she had lost him and felt the beginning of tears clotting her throat.
It felt like nothing she had known before when he put his big hands against her cheeks.
“Freedom is overrated.”
Then he bent and touched his mouth to hers.