I’ve found a job as a watchmaker’s assistant. Clocks are everywhere here, in every room and on every building, strapped to every wrist and ticking complacently in every pocket. It’s a good job, well-paid and respected enough that there’s not a hat that’s not tipped to me, or a drink I have to pay for. “One for the watchmaker’s assistant,” they say to the man behind the bar, laughing while they say it, and press against me, fingers rubbing the hems of my coats for good luck, scissors ready (if I’m not watchful, always watchful) to snip a piece of hair or flesh away. Someone has the lobe of my ear this way; even while I chased after his long-legged redness they had their handkerchiefs out to save the blood that poured down my chin and spattered on the stones of the street.

I’ve only seen the watchmaker once and that by accident. He’s been hacked nearly to pieces – most of his face gone to jars and sweet-smelling reliquaries. They got his eyes at some point, scooped so neatly out of his sockets that the flesh has healed over them completely. His hearing is almost preternaturally sharp. He heard when I picked the shears up from the mantelpiece and was gone. I didn’t want much – maybe just a bit of finger, or the end of his nose – some bit near his heart – some of that skill to warm my hands at night.

I’m learning the trade, my loves.