The Marionette

"Because Marionettes never grow."

HER voice always comes to me at night, when I'm alone. The pain slicing through my arm and the bittersweet scent of blood make HER more present.

Everyday SHE would come and sit by my side and read from a big book about war, and strategy, and fight, and… I had heard those stories all my life and they were always the same. But sometimes SHE would tell a different story that had nothing to do with war. There were fights, and assassins, and almost killings… but there was no war. There was only a wooden marionette.

"They are born Marionettes, they live Marionettes, and they die Marionettes."

I didn't know what a marionette was. I thought he was very bad because he never obeyed anyone. I always obeyed. I never thought of not obeying. I thought he was bad, but I liked him, too. Not because of him, but because I liked HER voice at my side. It was warm and nice. I liked HER. SHE never hurt me, like HE did. SHE never said I was an animal, like HE did. SHE was never mad at me, like HE was. And SHE was always sad and smiled a little. HE was always mad and only smiled when I hurt. And SHE liked the Marionette, I think, so I liked it too.

Then the missions started. Then I understood. Marionettes aren't real. I went outside and I saw the sun and the moon, I felt the heat and the cold, I felt the wind and the rain. Those were real. In my room, there was heat and cold, and there was rain only in the shower and wind when I trained. But those weren't real. Only the ones outside were real. And the people, too. People outside laughed, cried, walked, ran, held each other and kissed. In the facility, there weren't any real people. Except for HER. SHE was real. Everything else was a marionette. And I was a marionette, too.

"Oh, I'm tired of always being a marionette!"

I stopped liking HER story. The Marionette becomes a real boy because he started obeying, I knew; but why hadn't I became a real person if I had always obeyed? I didn't like HER story anymore. Now I liked my missions. I liked leaving my Marionette World and living for a little while in the Real World. I liked when I sniffed them bringing in the papers for a new mission.

Then one day SHE took me out in a mission. It was the first time SHE did it. I was so happy! I fulfilled my objectives as fast as possible: I wanted HER to be pleased with my efficiency. HE had left me behind once… HE hated me and called me animal and hurt me. But SHE didn't hurt me, and HER words were smooth, and SHE didn't hate me. SHE would never leave me behind. Not if I did everything right.

I killed the target and brought the girl down to HER. SHE was very pleased and SHE put HER arms around the girl and kissed her, and I knew it was because she was a real girl. I wondered what it felt like, being a real girl. I wondered what it felt like being touched gently and being kissed and held the way SHE had done to the girl.

"I want to be a real person rather than a wooden boy."

And then there was the boy. HE sent me in a mission and I killed my targets as ordered. But then there was the boy. He was real. SHE had sent me out to save the girl. SHE would have wanted me not to kill the boy either. For the first time, I decided to disobey HIM. I wasn't really disobeying, though, because I knew SHE would have ordered me not to kill him. So I didn't. And I remember I wanted to be as real as that boy, in the arms of his father and mother in the photo.

"And you will if you deserve it…"

Then I told HER what had happened. I showed HER the targets' photo. And SHE was mad at HIM, and pleased with me. SHE was so pleased SHE promised to take me in a new mission. I was very happy. SHE sent me a package with the details, as usual. It was a very thick package, and that's when I knew this was a different mission. I understood why it was different when I finished reading the debriefing: SHE was taking me away forever. SHE was going to take me away from the Marionette World and then SHE'd be my mother and I would be a real girl. But first I had to destroy the Marionette World; first I had to make sure there would never be any more marionettes. Then I'd be real.

"Really?"

The pain slices deeper and the blood scent runs stronger. The Marionette became a real boy because he obeyed. Because he was good to his Father and to the Fairy, who was his Mother. He saved them. That's why he became real. I was going to have a Mother. SHE was going to be my Mother. SHE would make me real. SHE tried to. SHE tried very hard. See, SHE even gave me a name so I really could be a girl.

"Tell me, what can I do to deserve it?"

But I was bad. Only good children can be real. That's what the Fairy-Mother had told the Marionette. And I was bad. Because I didn't help people, like good children do. Because there was blood in my hands. HER blood. I wasn't an animal, like HE had called me so many times. I knew that. But only in the end did I understand. I'm not an animal. But I'm not a person, either. Even if the pain slices through me, as it does through them; even if my blood runs red and warm, as theirs… my wounds close, the pain goes away and I'm always whole. Their wounds don't close, their pain remains, and they will never be whole again. SHE won't. SHE was real. They are real. I'm just a marionette.

"They are born Marionettes, they live Marionettes, and they die Marionettes."