The Puppet – Eric Thralby

There was an old couple who had built a boy of wood.
They taught him to walk and he fell and when they picked him up he laughed and danced.
The father, for the first time, had done something to be thrilled of. He carried his boy on his shoulders. The boy waved to the people in town.
Are you a boy?
The puppet stood on his head.
But does he live?
The puppet blew out a cake’s seven candles.
As he grew, they taped him up and glued new boards in place.
Each day, he stepped boldly forward, renewed.
If he was tired, they held his hands and walked him.
If his body began to quake, they pushed him together with their hands and then polished out his bruises.
If he was damaged by rot or rain, they yanked out warped boards and nailed in clean straight ones.
They needed rope and glue and wood. They took the legs from their tables and the beams from their ceiling. The dismantled the cupboards and undid the bed. Eventually they took out the floorboards.
The boy had stopped speaking. He danced now with only half of his body, or sometimes lay lifeless.
Gradually, the old couple disassembled their roof.
Eventually, they lived in the rubble of their son.
They dug through his planks and assembled brief imitations of life which, like panhandlers, earned them a little money to eat.
They had no shelter but the body of their son and at night they felt their fingers into the various knots in the various boards, because knots in appearance resembled a soul.
They found the knobby dowel of his nose, which still had some warmth of life.
The old couple, in carpentry fingers, held the last of their son as snowflakes began softly down.

Captain by trade, Cpt. Eric Thralby works wood in his long off-days. He time-to-time pilots the Bremerton Ferry (Bremerton—Vashon; Vahon—Bremerton), while other times sells books on, SellerID: plainpages. He’ll sell any books the people love, strolling down to library and yard sales, but he loves especially books of Romantic fiction, not of risqué gargoyles, not harlequin romance, but knights, errant or of the Table. Eric has not published before, but has read in local readings at the Gig Harbor Candy Company and the Lavender Inne, also in Gig Harbor.

Leave a Reply