Jeremy was a quiet man. Not the kind of man who gets noticed often. Except for Jenny at Sinker Donuts. Jenny noticed Jeremy. Not that Jeremy noticed Jenny noticing him. He wasn’t good at recognizing social clues, like Jenny’s personal questions or her smiles. Jeremy lived inside his own head most of the time.
After Jeremy left Sinker Donuts on his latest visit, Wanda, Jenny’s coworker, said, “Oh my word. Just ask the poor fool out. He obviously doesn’t have a clue you are interested.”
“I wanted him to think it was his idea, but you’re right. I need to do it. Next time he comes in I’ll ask him.”
Jeremy was a woodworker who specialized in tables. He could build anything, as long as it was made of wood, but he preferred building tables. His tables were in demand and commanded a high price. A gift of a table to his neighbor Dan had kept the two on good terms despite Jeremy’s woodworking shop serenading Dan’s house with power tool sounds all day.
Dan, and his wife Kim, had a precocious five-year-old daughter named Bethany who liked to wander over to Jeremy’s shop and see what he was working on. Jeremy didn’t mind. Bethany was well-behaved and didn’t touch any of his tools. And she only stayed for a few minutes while Jeremy showed her what he was working on. He enjoyed the brief interruption and the company.
One day Jeremy decided he would make something for Bethany. At first, he thought of a dollhouse. But that seemed too ordinary. Instead, he decided he would build her a whole town. He didn’t usually build scale models, but he figured it would be a learning experience. Perhaps even another source of income, if it turned out well.
He started with a couple of simple buildings for Main Street. Then he tried his hand at houses for the neighborhood. Over time he got quite good at building the models and began to enjoy it. He even created details like tiny wooden people to populate the town and a Sinker Donuts sign for the donut shop. Eventually, he tackled a carousel complete with horses.
When he wasn’t working on it, Jeremy kept the town under a tarp. When Bethany asked about the tarp one day, he told her it was wood for a project.
One afternoon, Jeremy was sitting on a stool, working on the town, lost in his own thoughts. He looked up and couldn’t believe what he saw. He was surrounded by wooden buildings. Jeremy recognized the buildings. They were the ones he built for Bethany’s town. He was in Bethany’s town!
Jeremy looked down at his hands. They were made of wood, but they still worked like regular hands. He started to panic. Then he heard a woman’s voice. “Excuse me! Are you from here? I seem to be lost. I don’t even know how I got here.”
“Ummm. Me either.” Jeremy began to run down the street, looking around. It was definitely the town he built.
The woman chased after him yelling, “Wait. I’m scared.”
Jeremy stopped and said, “I don’t know how it happened, but I built this town, and now we are in it.”
“You’re a carpenter?”
“A woodworker, really. But this is not a real town. It is a model.”
“I don’t understand,” the woman said.
“Neither do I,” Jeremy replied.
Suddenly, there was a loud noise above them. Jeremy and the woman looked up and saw the sky being pulled away. Then they saw the face of a giant hovering over the town. Jeremy instantly recognized it. It was Bethany.
Bethany had a huge smile and said, “I love it! It is so cute. Oh, look, a man and a woman.”
Bethany picked up Jeremy and the woman and started smashing them together while making kissing sounds. The pain was intense as Jeremy and the woman slammed into each other. Then Bethany lost her grip on Jeremy, and he fell to the ground. He could feel his bones breaking and screamed out in agony. Then everything went black.
A second later, Jeremy woke up and found himself on the shop floor.
He looked around. Everything was back to normal. He must have dozed off and had a nightmare.
Jeremy stood up, grabbed the town, and went outside. He then went to the garage, got some lighter fluid, sprayed the town with it, and set it on fire. He stood and watch it burn until it was nothing but ashes.
Then Jeremy went back to his wood shop and started working on a child-sized table and two chairs. That seemed like a safer gift for Bethany.
The next day, Jeremy went to Sinker Donuts. To his surprise, Jenny asked him out. Jeremy blushed a little, then he agreed.
That night as they were eating diner, Jenny said, “I took a nap yesterday and had the craziest dream. I dreamed I woke up in a wooden town. And I was a wooden woman.”
Jeremy’s eyes got big. He took a breath, smiled, and said, “That’s weird.”