Thursday, 18 June 2015


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.
Except 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 twenty-eight.
Had I 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 maybe not...
I might 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.
Why was 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.
Living 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 doll.
Death 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.
When the 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.
Oh Pinocchio, tell me why I ever thought that turning into wood could have a happy ending?