The marks are still there, dull, lighter but fully present – white and red, scratchy, and old. They are horrible- no, they are hideous, so hideous that I still can’t bear to fully look at them for long without my eyes burning with tears that threaten to spill. But I don’t, I swallow them up before they can splash down my cheeks. I stop looking. I tell myself they have gone and the next time I search for them, they would vanish, that I wouldn’t ever have to set eyes on them ever again. I am wrong obviously, because they are always there, the exact same, haunting reminders of a past I have tried long to forget, to get over. Sometimes I wish I had some of those memory disorders, where people forget, a complete black-hole where memories should have been. Stupid wishing, I know. It must be difficult for them to live, to go on with their daily lives. But it might be better than this, this slow suffocation, crushing me, stealing my breath away. It’s like a slow death very slow. And it comes from within, a dark power that starts from my heart and shrouds me completely. I am afraid that one day I am going to let it take control of me and that day, there would be no wishful thinking, no fantasies. Because that day I will lose my power. Again. And the prospect of being helpless scares me more than anything else in the world. It’s a dangerous place to be in, a feral weakness. You feel like you can’t move any longer. You feel like a Puppet, unable to lift a limb unless the Puppeteer wants you to. The strings, they are your worst enemy. With one tug, they can make you smile. With one yank, they can make you drive a knife through your own goddamn heart. Those strings, those shiny, glossy, dancing strings, they can make you dance with them, make you forget all your worries, or they can choke you, wrapping around you like vines, their shine blinding your eyes, pressing hard against you till you feel blood ooze out of your skin, every inch that was in contact with glossy strings, becomes glossier, darker, redder. But who I am to know? Who am I to speak?
The nexttime, I see the marks again, not one thing about them has changed, not the way I cringe, not the way bile rises up my throat, not the way I want to pull my own hair out. But this time, I don’t tell myself they will vanish, this time I don’t let myself succumb to lies whispered in falsely calming tones. It’s awful, really, the way they make me feel even now. It’s been so long, so long. So, I try not go back there, try not to think. But its inevitable. Thinking to me is almost like breathing, I have so many thoughts clouding my brain all the time, I am, afraid they are going to spill out any minute. But this time I don’t think about the Puppet or the strings. Yes, hard to believe, but even I am not that pessimistic. This time I think of the Puppeteer, the powerful master sitting high up in a bejeweled throne, leaning against the back, satisfied, complacent. The power must be intoxicating, so much power, so much under your control, under your thumb. Literally. You must feel so utterly liberated, an other worldly feeling seeping into you with every move, every yank, every pull, every tug, every jerk. And a feeling of sluggish delight would follow it, an assurance that you are still important, still worth a lot. That without you to guide -no- to dictate, there is someone, maybe more than one who wouldn’t even breathe, wouldn’t move. That knowledge in itself would be so intoxicating, that for once you would slack. You would start losing a little control, still holding on, obviously, but your grip a little lighter. Until eventually, things would start slipping away, far away. You would come to realization with a terrible jerk, the daydream broken like a sand castle. But by then, it would be too late to do anything. The tide would already have receded, taking the sand with it. However, there is nothing to say the strings won’t affect you if you are controlling them. You would probably hold them tight at first, and they would burn their impressions on the inside of your palms, along your fingers. But who am I to know? Who am I to speak?
I am the Puppet. I have those marks, left from the strings. They are not marks, they are scars, all over me, setting me apart, claiming me as their own.
I am the Puppeteer. My hands are raw, my heart still in shock over its loss. The shock that reminds me of what I used to be, of what I let go.
Maybe, one cannot be both. Puppet and Puppeteer, I mean. Maybe that somehow reduces the effect. Maybe it makes you careless, too comfortable, too much at home with the game to stay true. Maybe because I was the Puppet first, I couldn’t be the Puppeteer. Maybe, because I had already been burned by the strings, I couldn’t hold them tightly enough, to afraid let them disfigure my tender hands. Maybe I am paying the price for it. But maybe, maybe it wasn’t fear at all. Maybe it was the empathy, the goodness that still lurked behind the dark, like the spring, shadowing the winter. Maybe I still hadn’t lost my heart.