“What do you think? Are you similar to us? Similar enough?”
The voice floats up from the stage and hits my ears like a needle. Four seconds pass, and I still have no answer to offer. A giant magpie caws to our right and breaks the silence.
The other two marionettes below are partners. Their strings lead up to one thick white and grey cloud to our left. I cannot guess at what is inside. The strings move only slightly in the breeze. I think they will always agree, now where we stand and later privately, when we are not around. This fear attacks me even as I try to think of a response. Nervous sweat prickles at my scalp. My head is full of half sentences, ifs, buts, how do I fit into this? How do I say the right thing? I look down at my figurine standing next to his. His is poised to answer, he is ready to go, but my doll is not. Between my view of her little doll head and my hands is a tangle in the strings. How did this happen? My doll is frozen in a funny position. I try to tug at the knot, but it won’t shake free. The other dolls below share a look then look back at us. I tug a little harder.
“Wait, wait, WAIT!” His whispers, annoyed. He props his figure against a little wall and carefully wraps his strings around the balcony rail and reaches down to the knot. “Hold them steady!” He slowly and carefully lifts the strings until he can reach the tangle. My doll is lifted off of the stage. The other dolls pretend not to notice. Stooped over the balcony, he pulls the knot into his hands and begins to ease the tangle. The Magpie cocks her head at us. ” You won’t get that knot out you know” her raspy voice tries to sound sweet, knowing how her words will wound. “Everyone can see the mess, YOU doesn’t belong”
“Shush!” he says, ” The knot is gone!” He looks at me and hands me the string. “Don’t listen to her when she is grumping like that, it has nothing to do with you at all. Now lower your doll back down, and give those puppets their answer.”
I lower my dolls strings through shaky hands.I look to my right at the magpie, take a breath, and blink her away. The figures feet gently touch the ground with a quiet clink.
“Yes,” she says with a little doll smile, ” We are similar enough indeed”