Marrionetta slicked away the grime and the ash. Her lavender oil made her feel calm and she toweled off. She checked the mirror again in her dressing room. She looked splintered and harried but clean at least. She put on her clogs and a green dress. She still couldn’t find her parasol.

If this had been the past, she would have raged through the dormitories of the subterranean circus rooms until she found somebody who knew what had happened to the parasol. She felt certain the it had been stolen as it was very beautiful and, as she had noticed earlier, her door had been broken in at some point. But she was too tired to become angry. She almost thought she might cry again. Did the circus folk really hate her that much? That they would steal from her? Instead of bowing to self pity, she abruptly hurried herself out the door and away from the circus property, snapping and creaking the whole way. 

The walk to the woods was more challenging than she remembered. She felt winded as she approached the tree line. Her physicality was so diminished. The disuse of her energies was only the beginning though. Being taken apart and put back together over a dozen times was an exertion she had never known before. And the steady ebb of her endocrine implants was turning into a very strong desire to re-up. She insisted to herself that she could go longer though. She didn’t need Lorelei. She didn’t need these ungrateful circus chesires. She’d struck it out on her own for centuries before any of them. She had beat back every villain and torn down countless shimsham walls that stood between her and hot plates of oily, garlicky pâtes.

She picked her way through the humid woods. There were no frogs today. She wondered if Lorelei hadn’t eaten them all. When she arrived at her favorite grove of trees, she sat down and caught her breath on a log. It occurred to her — not for the first time — that the log might be a distant cousin of hers. She couldn’t actually tell trees apart. This always made her feel a little ashamed. She put the thought of arboreal roots out of her mind. 

Just a quick jump and I’m up she thought. She readied herself to applique across the trees branches, to suspend herself in midair for some mid afternoon acrobatics. Just her and the trees. Just like always. 

Instead, Marrionetta slowly slid sideways and onto the ground. She fell into an exhausted slumber. 

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