I am initiating short story Monday. I say I want to write for a living, but I don’t sit in front of this keyboard for a set number of hours and make it happen. Number of hours has proven difficult. Hence, I am changing it to goals instead. Mondays are short story day. I have written my second short story of my new career. It is VERY short, but I am proud of myself for actually completing a story in 622 words. I didn’t think I could do it.
I hope you enjoy it! Read more books!
The sun was setting. I remember the sun. The reds and oranges deepening as the orb slowly disappeared behind the trees. And music. There was definitely music. I don’t know if the music was playing or if I was only hearing it. A mandolin. My father did like to play the mandolin. No. Wait. He didn’t play the mandolin. His marionettes played the mandolin. Poorly, I might add. I remember terrible mandolin music played by marionettes.
My father loved his marionettes. He would hide behind the couch with his hands holding the strings of a gaily dressed bard as it stroked the strings of a tiny mandolin. The muffled voice singing from behind the couch made me giggle and clap. I loved his shows.
I remember pulling the marionette box out of his closet. My father was not home. He was rarely home anymore. When he was home, he wasn’t my father. I missed his shows. I opened the box to a tangle of string and limbs and props. The scene might have been grotesque to an older child. I only saw my father’s love and wanted to feel it again. I attempted to extradite the bard, my favorite, from the mess.
My father appeared as if magically called by the hiss of the string. He joined me on the floor, a bit awkwardly, but finally made it. “I bet we could make a lasso to hook the moon with all the string in this box if we could get it untangled,” he said through liquor stained breath.
“Yes, papa. Let’s capture the moon,” I eagerly agreed.
And so we started cooperatively organizing the menagerie in the box. Some knots proved too tough for my young brain and his altered one. He produced scissors and we removed the road blocks. Looking back now, I wish my father could have untangled his life, his pain, the way we separated the contents of the box.
“We need more string,” my father realized when we had enough untangled to estimate the length. He brought me in close and conspiratorially whispered, “Let’s free the marionettes.”
My eyes bulged in shock, but before I could protest, he began snipping. I watched arms fall to the floor lifeless. The head of the baker’s wife rolled under the bed. The sheep’s hoof crunched under a boot.
“No, papa, no,” I yelled, trying to grab his hand. He was killing them. He pushed me aside and continued to clip. I sat in the corner crying as the carnage continued. I felt his love slipping away like the forms of the marionettes, washed away in a swirl of booze and impetus.
A month later, I held the hand of my mother wearing my Sunday best watching the sun set. My older brother stood stoically behind me, more angry than hurt. Tears ran down my mother’s face, but no sound escaped her lips. My free hand caressed the little wooden mandolin in my skirt pocket as I gazed down into the deep hole in the ground. When we left, the hole would be filled in with earth. What would I fill my hole with? He filled his with bars and booze. What would I choose?
Though the sky darkens every night, it brightens again every morning. I know this now. As I watch the sun set years later, I hold the toy mandolin and my one year coin in one hand. In the other, the hand of my daughter. I will not clip the strings on her.
As we watch the moon rise, I look at her sweet, forgiving face. I did capture the moon, Daddy. She’s right here and I will never let go.