I scare you because I look like you –
But I am smaller, weaker, helpless,
My eyes and lips are painted on. My dress is glued around my shoulders and my waist.
You wear rings
and I wear strings.
There are strings attached.
Everyone saw that coming.
Can I dance to make you smile?
Will I get your attention
If I raise my arms
and jump up and down?
Will it entertain you?
I know you’ll only play with me until I’m worn
One day, you will leave me in my box
To choak on dust and despair.
Then you will buy a new puppet to abuse,
Until you discard them too.
You can’t drop me on the stage repeatedly and expect my nose to stay intact.
You can’t lock me in boxes and mess me about and expect the colour to stay in my cheeks.
You can’t tie tight knots around my wrists and expect my smile not to fade.
I have a secret.
Every time you tug at my strings and make loud demands, you think you’re controlling me.
You pull, of course,
But I move.
I move my head,
and one day I will walk without you.
I practise when you’re not around. I look around and I move my arms up and down and I click, click, click forwards and backwards in the black acrylic heels I was born in.
Sometimes, I think about how easy it would be to scare you.
One day little painted dolly is not quite where you left her. Her wooden arms are holding themselves up. Her empty painted smile gives you a sudden sense of uneasiness.
Is her weak,
You will never know.
You prod her
and then you push her
and she falls aside limply.
You chuckle to yourself. I don’t understand why. It’s foolish to me that you consider yourself sane.
I am tired of your box
and your stage and shows.
I would rather prance away from you
Than impress children with bows.
Still, I must endure it day in and day out until my wooden limbs can move enough to get out the door. The day I cross the threshold and execute my escape, will be the day I stop living for you and others like you.
My painted smile will come clean off.
I will draw my own expression.
You might not recognise little Marionette then.
I will walk away.
It will be hard.
My steps are small.
My legs are concrete.
I must keep my balance because if I clatter, you will stop me.
The practise and the pain are not for nothing.
I will reach the door and use my strings to set me free.
Other little dollies will learn they can defy their masters too. One day, I will be a story they read or overhear.
They will practise moving limbs
And we will march free
We will walk away.
Walk away we will.
Deborah Rose Green is Contributing Editor for Hey Young Writer! She is also the author of Dragon Pearls (2019) and Crown My Heart (2020). You can follow her on Instagram at @authordeborahrose or visit her website, deborahrosegreen.co.uk!