Every move I make is directed. Forced. Coerced.
Day after day I trudge through this weary life doing the bidding of a higher power; helpless to fight the overwhelming sense of duty that I carry in my heart.
The backdrop of my life is dictated by your circumstance.
It rains when you cry and my sky is littered with bits of your cast-offs.
Warm or cold, I am at your mercy and manipulated for your glory.
Tired of disjointed moments in which I share no joy, pain rips at my soul with the tug of every string. I comply; I have no choice.
Cries of excitement from the crowd as you use me to tell your story. Always silent, you are. Stealing my voice as your own. Using my dance in place of your stodgy motion. You wield the cross of control with unyielding passion. Each caress is more bitter than the last, cutting, cutting deep until I’m dead inside.
At night you carefully place me back inside my velvet casket and leave me alone in my misery. I am not loved. I am a tool. A means to an end. A way to earn a living. No more. No less.
You close the case but in your hurry, leave it slightly ajar. Not locked as in other times. Atrophied muscles groan and ache as I stretch to reach the strings attached to my elbows and knees. I contort my stiff body to loosen your hold on me. Gnarled rope tangles around my joints and I struggle through the blackness to unshackle myself from this prison I’m in.
Dawn wakens me to having left intact, but relaxed the knots of my bondage. I am once more yanked from my reverie and put on display for eager faces, excited to watch my journey on strings.
I catch the eye of an eager young man, his fascination is evident on the lines of his face. He licks his lips with hunger at the prospect of making money with me. In a moment of bravery, I exercise tired sinew and tug at an attempt to stretch and the strings pull free of their rings and he sees an opportunity to hustle.
He creates a diversion, knocking someone over in the process and my master yanks my strings in an effort to control me while the stage is being shoved by the crowd. Pandemonium sets in as people are shoved, baskets dislodged and fresh goods from the market are spilled. Just as he reaches to grab the cross of control, my strings are released and I make my escape.
I surrender to gravity and slide in a heap through the cracks in the back of the pit. Landing lightly on the ground below, I carefully but quickly stretch and scuttle on all fours through the market, finding refuge in wide skirts and closed parasols and catch a ride on the side of a rickety wagon that passes by a little too close for comfort.
I hear his screams, his cries of disbelief, of deprivation as he realizes that the cross he now bears is just his own.
No longer will I bow and bend to the whim of his needs for I have escaped the puppet master.
© 2017, Becki Alfrey