The Marionettes

A challenging task came one morning when a box of marionettes arrived from Italy. Their strings were tangled to each other in a complex web. I grew frustrated quickly, trying to find the origins of the translucent lines. I picked up the bunch and hung them from the storage supply racks in the back room. Initially, I tried to focus on a single puppet, the one located at the center. As I unraveled, unknotted the string I noticed the tugs on the others. At times my attempts at unwinding would tug sharply at one marionette and the others connected would shake and twist as a result. I soon learned that the center marionette was responsible for the tangled mess. The knots and twists would take another hour to remove, so I cut my losses and clipped the strings one by one. I held the center marionette as I snipped the lines emanating from its appendages. The dependent marionettes would fling back when released, jostling the others in the bunch before they fell still and finally freed. I cut the final lines, which stemmed from the center puppet’s scalp. With this, the torso, the legs, then the head clattered, slipping through my hands like sand through a sieve. The strings I had clipped were the very strings holding the marionette together. I collected the strings and appendages. I covered the detritus with some of the other trash and hoped the store manager wouldn’t notice.