Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Strings This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
     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.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





Join the Discussion


This article has 16 comments. Post your own!

PhSkar said...
today at 12:36 am:
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.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Athena19This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Nov. 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm:
The imagery in this piece is really good! I can see both the symbolic and the actual scene really well!  
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Deej6595This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Nov. 16, 2013 at 8:54 pm:
I love the symbolism and theme. This is a really brave piece that you wrote.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
OrangeHarlow said...
Nov. 8, 2013 at 7:56 pm:
lovely, really beautiful. I love the symbolism
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
bookmouseThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jun. 14, 2013 at 10:58 am:
I love the statement it makes!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Andrea Philippa Z. said...
Jun. 9, 2013 at 6:42 am:
I really, really like this. Pretty amazing!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
ShagunThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 20, 2013 at 6:07 am:
Wonderful. Your prose flows so easily .... like water.  You really do have a gift.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
TickTockBANG said...
Mar. 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm:
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.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
monochromatic said...
Mar. 14, 2013 at 9:07 pm:
wow, thats pretty cool! I love it!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
pensive said...
Mar. 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm:
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 just...wow. 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...
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
TheWordShakerThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 14, 2013 at 4:16 am:
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.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
In_Love_with_WritingThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm:
Very nice concept :) You don't see much like these. Maybe you can comment or rate some of my stories?
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Winters_WillowThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Mar. 15, 2012 at 10:05 am:
Amazing!! :D Loved it!! You have a gift!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Steph0804This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Oct. 1, 2011 at 9:29 am:
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?
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
steph95 said...
Mar. 24, 2011 at 10:31 am:
realy nice story!! interesting and quite good ... :D
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
TechnicolorNightmare said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm:
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!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback