incessant rhythms

Marrionetta’s head bobbed gently in the center of the chemical bath. Her head, geometrically an oval of Finnish pine, weighted out evenly in the bowl which lent her days an incessant rhythm of gentle turning. To and fro. Back and forth. She had to shut her eyes for great lengths of time as the routine of it became nauseating, infuriating, depressing and, at long last, merely dull. Once the dullness set in, it made it easier to think.

She did not know what the doctor was planning to do with her. He spent boorish hours singing his southern operas, going over the crevices in her torso with a fine toothed instrument, cleaning, oiling, and testing all her joints. She had to assume he had some sort of death in store for her but it was taking an awfully long time. She wondered if he had done something bad to Violet, that poor little dancer girl. Marrionetta knew she didn’t deserve the girl’s sympathy but objectively it didn’t seem likely that the dancer would have so quickly abandoned her mistress like this. Things must be going very, very wrong at the circus down below.

She bobbed to and fro. Back and forth. She kept an eye on the insane doctor with a practiced neutral face. If he planned to murder her, she planned to surprise him but there was nothing she could do at the moment.

The long days in the chemical bath were the longest she had ever experienced. A creature of passions, Marrionetta was unaccustomed stillness, the quiet of mind, or the restrained nature of being unattached from her body for so long. Blinking began to feel new and significant. She rediscovered all of her teeth again, one at a time. Slowly a very profound sensation began to dawn on Marrionetta. She began to sense and feel the artistic influence of her Maker’s hand. It seemed present in the curvature of her face and wooden skull. In the long and echoing hallway of time, she suddenly sensed that she was truly a designed being. It almost gave her a sense of nobility. The doctor wasn’t the only one with some kind of pedigree.

She had always known that she was a rare thing. A survivor. A consummate performer. But she had not spent much time in her life reflecting on the fact that she had been sculpted. Someone had preconceived of her. Before she was, she had been. At least in the chamber of someone’s heart. A feeling overtook her and she could not shake the idea that perhaps some of this intentionality has been transferred to her during the process of her construction. Was there a lingering spell of the toy maker still ingrained in her? It gave her an odd sense of pride. Most of her life had been a propulsive drive to threaten those who would harm her or impress someone to give her money. Look what I can do she had spat at the world countless times since her mean and furious childhood. Look what I can do and then some. But this idea of the toy maker and his originating intentions towards her gave her a new idea. Look what someone else wanted for me. It was a warm feeling that had become lost for so many years. The chasm between his intentions and her reality were great but the differences did not anger her. Instead, it felt like interesting knot in a tree. A perfect shape that made the world seem more full of possibility. It was perspective. She wondered if creatures made of flesh ever had these kinds of thoughts.

In her dreamings on her origins, it also began to occur to her that, in a way, Doctor Lorelei wasn’t just stealing away her life, vitality and time. He was also stealing the toy maker’s original warmth and intentionality for her. Whatever Marrionetta might choose to do with the life that was crafted for her might not suit what the toy maker intended but there wasn’t a chance in circus hell that the doctor’s inspired plans were anything legitimate for her. An image came to her. A chain of hands, each taking and receiving from the next. A line of gifts being passed down and modified. Some of the exchanges were willing. Some were not. Some of of the modifications were improvements. Some were not.

She bobbed. To and fro. Back and forth. She continued to watch the doctor silently, paying special attention to his hands.

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