@mamzellecombeferre i can’t copy past your prompt properly or make this super long because TABLET but as promised. The prompt was : Bossuet, Joly et Feuilly + one frayed unraveling sock, two ribbons and a paintbrush.
To find Bossuet sitting in the middle of Joly’s living-room, two candles lightened in front of him, and one sock laying on the ground next to them, was not as shocking to Feuilly now as it might have been a year back. He had been the witness of many odd things in Joly’s (and Bossuet’s really) rooms, and he generally tried not to ask too many questions. Still – Joly had been whispering since he’d arrived with the pamphlets for tomorrow’s evening, and Bossuet looked so serious, that this time Feuilly’s curiosity got the best of him:
“Is everything alright?” He asked, finding himself whispering too despite not knowing why. “What are you doing?”
“Alas,” said Bossuet gravely. “Here lies my last sock. She was as brave as one could living at my feet, but now i fear her time to keep me warm is over at last. I will mourn her as it is proper, for none was as itchy, full of holes yet faithful to the post as she. She will be missed.”
Feuilly blinked. Joly moved around him, and came to put a hand on Bossuet’s shoulder, his face full of sympathy, despite his lips twitching like they wished to smile. Feuilly hesitated, stared at his friends, then thought about his lonely lodgings, and sat in front of Bossuet.
“Why is there only one?” He asked.
Clearly Bossuet hadn’t expected him to play along, because his serious demeanour threatened to break for a moment, before he coughed and answered with as much feeling as possible:
“The other left a while ago, never to be seen again, during a trip to the washing rooms. And while we must applaud her will for freedom, for it is what we all want and wishes for, i’m afraid this was the last straw for this one. Abandonned by all, she decayed until she came to this state. There is nothing to be done with it now. Even our best, most talented seamstress as declared her done for. As such, we are saying goodbye today before burying it.”
Feuilly looked at the sock. It looked indeed in a very bad state, and it was clear it would never fit anyone’s feet again. Still – to throw things away was against his nature. He thought for a moment, and then he straightened up.
“You sock may very well never be a sock again,” he said. “But i have another future for it if you let me try, Bossuet.”
Bossuet looked surprised but intrigued. He waved at him permission, and both Joly and him leaned closer as Feuilly grbbed the sock, and started to examine it before twisting it experimentally.
“I haven’t done this since i was a little boy,” said Feuilly thoughtfully. “Do you guys have some strings?”
Joly looked around, then he asked: “we have ribbons?” And went to retrieve them when Feuilly nodded decisively.
Once in possession of that, Feuilly went to work, and filled the poor sock with one the ribbons, making sure it didn’t spill out of the sock’s hole. Then, he carefully took the other ribbon and tied it up around the sock, until it looked like the sock had a little round head, and a frayed dress, with some imagination.
“There,” he said, pleased. “Now your sock is a doll, and kids will be happy to play with it. I made my first doll like that. Of course, i got better at carving tree branches after that, but nothing truly remplaces little dolls like that. They’re softer.”
He raised his eyes, satisfied, but then saw the faces of Joly and Bossuet. They had stilled, their eyes sad and a bit shocked, and Feuilly suddenly felt embarassed by his creation. It was as if Feuilly’s poor childhood had suddenly invaded the room with all its pitifulness and ugliness, and awkardness was not long to follow. Feuilly flushed in shame, tried to find something to say, anything, to have them forget what he’d said when Joly suddenly declared thoughfully:
“Do you know, if you squint, the doll looks like Grantaire a bit.”
“It does,” said Bossuet, moving closer. “I don’t know if it is the color or the form, but all it misses is the ugly nose.”
“Feuilly,” said Joly, “you know how to paint, don’t you? R left us one of his paintbrushes yesterday, after giving up again to paint us. We should draw his face, and then offer the doll to him. He is no child, but i can only assume he will be delighted we have thought of him.”
Feuilly breathed out slowly. It was truly Bossuet and Joly’s gift, he thought, that none of their sudden cheerfulness felt forced or full of pity. When he smiled, they beamed, and something uncomfortable disappeared in Feuilly’s stomach.
“Alright,” he said, holding the sock doll carefully in his hand. “Let’s make it for Grantaire.”