Among the Artificers This Belief

At the end of his life the toymaker found himself before God.

“What have you made, little toymaker?” asked God.

And the toymaker showed him his toys, his balls and tops and dolls and marionettes, the wooden soldiers that marched and raised their rifles, the mechanical dancers who dipped and bowed and pirouetted. God watched this and said nothing. When the toymaker had exhausted all he had made, he put his head on its side and whistled between his teeth. “That’s it,” he said. “That’s all of them.”

God said, “Show me.”

And the toymaker showed him how he made the toys, taking wood and metal into his hands and turning it this way and that and working with minute tools and shaping it to his liking. He made a butterfly with bright blue wings and held it out.

God picked up some ashes from the hearth and spat into them and kneaded the dough between his hands until it was the twin of the toymaker’s butterfly. He raised it in the bowl of his hands and blew into it and its wings stirred. The toymaker put his head on its side and watched with eyes small and black as buttons.

God said, “Show me.”

And the toymaker raised his wooden butterfly in the bowl of his hands and blew into it and its wings stirred. As it danced in the air the toymaker crumpled to the ground, a little dry husk, empty now.