He withdraws her bones one-by-one from the living flames, violet-hot from the forge. With each blow of his hammer, he discovers yet another intricacy of his lover’s interior. He measures out the breadth of her collarbone, the space between her radius and ulna, and the diameter of each individual vertebrae. It pains him that he cannot reach down and touch them; at least, not yet. He leaves out the two bottom-most ribs on the left hand side, a reminder of her distance from life’s original creator.

Once he is certain that their form is perfect, he allows each bone to sink into a basin of ice-cold mercury. Bubbles carry steam to the surface as they cool over the course of several hours. Once intuition tells him that they are ready to be withdrawn, he searches for them with a set of tongs, then places them on his cluttered workbench. They emerge marbled with tones of silver and lavender, and are finished with a nacreous gleam.

He’s been gathering the necessary materials to build her for years. Heaps of loom-spun sinew are piled throughout the laboratory, so smooth as to be scarcely distinguishable from silk. A series of porcelain organs are suspended in jars along his bookshelf: everything from six-chambered hearts to cylindrical stomachs to glow-in-the-dark livers. Self-tugging marionette strings hang from the ceiling like cobwebs.

No longer able to resist, he allows his hands to caress the metal-soaked bones arrayed on the table before him. Everything from the neck on down has been finished; he can at last see how long her fingers will be, the broadness of her shoulders and hips, and the amount of space her lungs will take up.

Behind him, a 3D printer is sculpting what is to become her face. Her thermoplastic lips are finished, but everything from the philtrum on up remains to be formed. Beneath this contraption lies a basket of numerous failures; ivory masks addled with conjoined eye sockets, sealed nostrils, and serrated brows. He’s lost count of the number of attempts that the machine has made, but sooner or later, he knows it will succeed.

There’s no rush; he hasn’t found a suitable skull for her anyway. It’s the only part that he cannot manufacture himself, but he has a few ideas regarding how to procure one.