Some people choose to cheat death, whereas I cheated life. I struggle to remember these days a time when it wasn't this way. Before my refusals to play got bolder. Before I dug in my heels; screamed NO at the top of my lungs and replaced the mouse-like squeak. I would not do what others wanted me to do. I would not be someone's puppet.
that's exactly what I became. A girl Pinocchio puppet. With strings
that my curator uses to bring me to life, but in my free mind I do
what I want, when I want. I separate my mind from the act. I use a
voice of my own and not the one I'm given. I walk with long graceful
strides and not clumsy disjointed steps. I'm able to flutter my eyes
or lower them coquettishly instead of my fixed opened, too trusting
blue-eyed gaze. I'm no fool if that's what you think. I move with
fluidity like a trained dancer and not with the woodenness people
have come to expect from a marionette. In my head that is, for of
course, I gave up these human rights many years ago. When I was
known I may not have behaved as I did. I may have complied and given
in to others whims. I may have continually forced myself to overcome
my reluctance to join in, somehow made the best of these
nerve-wracking situations I often found myself in. Found a way to
placate my social anxiety and formed an impenetrable public mask.
Conformed to all the norms: the aspirations, the peer pressure. Or
have weighed up the two different outcomes and decided being wooden
was better. I don't remember... I can't imagine being anything other
than I am, even now.
twenty-eight the magic number? Because I'd tried many times over and
each time I felt I'd failed. Failed to convince myself. Lied. Steamed
in with another bid to persuade others I wasn't square; deny, deny,
deny. A person trying too hard to be a chameleon: to suit and please
others. Gain their approval, their friendship, their loyalty.
Sometimes it was difficult to tell which personality was me or if my
performance had been more awkward rather than creditable. Alone, I
thought I saw through to the core, but doubted. In such times, the
subject's mind is never reliable.
like this was becoming a trial, so in one fell swoop I went to the
polar opposite: inflexible with timetabled habits and an unbending
attitude. At first, this shift was invigorating and I blossomed like
a flower opening up to the sun, but as I got entrenched in routine my
body hardened. My spine was as stiff and straight as a curtain rail,
my skin grew sandpaper dry and my eyes forgot how to blink; I
couldn't squeeze out one measly tear and there was no saliva to wet
my whistle. As the transition took hold, I sat myself down, in a
propped up position as a growing child might neglect a once favourite
seemed inevitable and hopefully short in coming, but no. The
locked-in torture had just begun. And it still continues for the
damage I've done can't be undone how matter how hard I wish. The
Pinocchio syndrome in reverse, believe me, is far worse to live with
as there's no end in sight. No exit from this existence. I can be
forever mended: glued, rouged and dressed up. Left to adorn a shelf
or corner or made to perform. Be catalogued to a cupboard with other
similar specimens as a tangible record to history.
transformation to wood took full effect I couldn't tell you as by
then the days and weeks had melded into one, nor how it was that I
got snapped up by an antique toy collector who'd wrongly assumed I
was a shabby, ill-used, larger than average marionette. A one-off, a
poor copy, a sorry imitation of a popular toy, possibly hand-crafted
for a child and passed down through subsequent generations. A fossil,
which is to say wood doesn't wear me well.
Pinocchio, tell me why I ever thought that turning into wood could
have a happy ending?