Strings MAG

By Mary-Katherine H., Kennesaw, GA

     He was a puppet. I saw his painted smile, his gangly, drawn-out way of crossing the room, and while I saw no strings, I knew they were there. He walked because someone else wished him to. He existed because someone else wished him to.

But who in this crowded room was his puppet master? Who pulled the strings that moved his legs? Which one of them voiced his voice? I scanned the room almost angrily, wondering which of my guests thought that they were strong enough, powerful enough, not only to create a human being but then to reduce him to a mere doll.

The puppet was the pawn of the room, the scapegoat inevitably placed right next to the glass that shattered on the ground, taking the blame for a woman bumping shoulders with a man, accepting the guilt when one person’s foot landed on another’s. “I’m sorry” seemed to be his only words, and they were spoken apologetically, eagerly, with a smile I knew the puppet master had perfected.

The pompous man recounting his troubles with his secretary for the umpteenth time? The silk-gloved woman accepting another glass of wine from the puppet himself? Which one of them had crafted such a special toy? Which of them had been there when he blinked for the first time? Had taught him that the only words he was worthy of speaking were words of penitence?

“I’m sorry,” the puppet spoke again, slipping in and out of the crowd. “I’m sorry.”

Which of these fools had taught him to apologize for his existence? How many took pleasure in seeing such a craftsman’s perfection treated like dirt? As he neared me, I searched for the strings that led to his captor. Around his joints, his fingers, his neck, his head, I looked for anything that might indicate hope that he could be cut away from his captivity. Closer he walked, and I began to see them, little silvery lines of pure nothing, leading not to one enemy, but another, and another. I followed each string and found that there was nobody here that the strings did not lead to. Pompous fool, gloved lady, tiara-wearer, black-dress woman, cheap-tuxedo man ... every one of them considered themselves his master. Every one of them controlled his actions.

He was next to me now, offering wine with his painted smile. “I’m sorry,” he said needlessly. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m not,” I said, and began to sever his strings.

Similar Articles


This article has 19 comments.

i love this !

This is so realistic!

on Oct. 21 2016 at 10:14 am
Armadillo333 GOLD, Fort Kent, Maine
13 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Stars can't shine without darkness" - Unknown

So good love your symbolism!!

PhSkar BRONZE said...
on Feb. 26 2014 at 12:36 am
PhSkar BRONZE, Germantown, Tennessee
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, 'Why, why, why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand."
–Kurt Vonnegut

Not gonna lie, something inside of me moaned when I read "Which of these fools had taught him to apologize for his existence?" Well done.

on Nov. 30 2013 at 6:16 pm
Athena19 SILVER, Central Point, Oregon
5 articles 1 photo 104 comments

Favorite Quote:
'Love people. Cook them tasty food.' -Penzey's Spices

The imagery in this piece is really good! I can see both the symbolic and the actual scene really well!  

on Nov. 16 2013 at 8:54 pm
Deej6595 BRONZE, Billerica, Massachusetts
3 articles 0 photos 375 comments

Favorite Quote:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

I love the symbolism and theme. This is a really brave piece that you wrote.

OrangeHarlow said...
on Nov. 8 2013 at 7:56 pm
OrangeHarlow, Cincinnati, Ohio
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
lovely, really beautiful. I love the symbolism

on Jun. 14 2013 at 10:58 am
bookmouse BRONZE, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
1 article 90 photos 251 comments
I love the statement it makes!

on Jun. 9 2013 at 6:42 am
Andrea Philippa Zidarova, Sofia, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really, really like this. Pretty amazing!

on Mar. 20 2013 at 6:07 am
BurrThistle GOLD, Jaipur, Other
10 articles 0 photos 162 comments

Favorite Quote:
Write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect

Wonderful. Your prose flows so easily .... like water.  You really do have a gift.

on Mar. 15 2013 at 4:08 pm
TickTockBANG SILVER, Botkins, Ohio
8 articles 0 photos 44 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I believe that what doesn't kill you simply makes you... stranger." --Joker

This is a flippin' great story--I absolutely love the concept and the way it's written. It's not overly long, but it totally works, because there was no need for a long backstory of the setting or anything, because it's just perfect. Do the world a fantastic service and keep writing.

on Mar. 14 2013 at 9:07 pm
monochromatic BRONZE, Alexandria, Virginia
3 articles 0 photos 84 comments

Favorite Quote:
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
C. S. Lewis

wow, thats pretty cool! I love it!

pensive said...
on Mar. 14 2013 at 7:02 pm
pensive, Fcgbhjk, Maryland
0 articles 0 photos 25 comments
Wow. You had me sucked in from the first sentence to the last. The puppet metaphor is unique and the way you wove it into the story was I kind of want to know more about him and who he his and how he came to be everyone's puppet, but I don't know how you would work that in...

on Mar. 14 2013 at 4:16 am
TheWordShaker SILVER, San Jose, California
5 articles 0 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Franz thinks of everything and nothing. He wonders if the world is becoming a dream or a dream is becoming the world."

no, actually though?  This is so good.  Seriously.  I absolutely adore it.  There is not one thing I can think of that you should change.  okay, not even one thing you could change.  This is wonderful.  Keep writing.

on Jan. 6 2013 at 3:44 pm
In_Love_with_Writing GOLD, Easton, Pennsylvania
12 articles 0 photos 389 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phillipians 4:13

Very nice concept :) You don't see much like these. Maybe you can comment or rate some of my stories?

on Mar. 15 2012 at 10:05 am
Winters_Willow SILVER, Beijing, Other
7 articles 0 photos 51 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Treat others the way you wish to be treated." ~Ghandi
"You are the worst pirate I've ever heard of." "Ah, but you've heard of me." ~Pirates of the Caribbean
"A man who has never done anything wrong, has never tried anything new." ~Albert Einstein

Amazing!! :D Loved it!! You have a gift!

Steph0804 GOLD said...
on Oct. 1 2011 at 9:29 am
Steph0804 GOLD, Seoul, Other
12 articles 4 photos 206 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog: you understand it better, but the frog dies in the process." -E.B. White

This is so good! No wonder it was published in the mag! I have a question, what if you took this concept of a human puppet and expanded it into an entire novel?

on Mar. 24 2011 at 10:31 am
stephie95 PLATINUM, Tripoli, Other
25 articles 1 photo 65 comments
realy nice story!! interesting and quite good ... :D

on Feb. 8 2011 at 5:18 pm
TechnicolorNightmare BRONZE, El Prado, New Mexico
1 article 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Sir, I admit your general rule,
That every poet is a fool,
But you yourself may serve to show it,
That every fool is not a poet." -Samuel T. Coleridge

This was an interesting story. I wish that perhaps I knew a little more about the curcumstances leading up to this event... It seems like it needs more some how. I don't mean this in a bad way, quite the contrary, I liked it so much I wish there was more to read!


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!