Story: Puppeteer

In 2015 I won one of Faber Academy’s Quick Fic competitions (write 250 words based on a picture prompt within a set amount of time).  This was my entry.



The strings are fine, so light as to be invisible – but they cut cruelly into the wrists and ankles, tug at the cheap cloth covering elbows and knees.

“It’s a learner driver,” murmurs Gordon, through his rictus grin. “Oh God, I hate learners.” His left arm jerks abruptly up, swings out sideways in a line and smacks Judy in the back of the head.

“Might just be the Master loosening his fingers,” says Judy hopefully, as her legs buckle and flap, a drunken goose-step.

“There’s a tangle coming, you wait and see,” says Gordon, and he spins on his strings, one foot caught behind Judy’s knee. His head nods up and down and couple of times, and there’s a clatter as he’s dropped for a second. He rests gratefully, head at a rag-doll angle. From here he can just about see up Judy’s skirt. Her arms open welcomingly, her head tilts to one side. “Here we go.”

The strings pull taunt, and they stand to attention. Lean to one side, lean to the other, heads forward, heads back.

“A proper beginner,” whimpers Gordon, as his left foot taps to no discernible rhythm.

“Just keep smiling,” warns Judy, bravely. “It’ll be over soon.”

The jumps begin – arms wide, legs out, jump jump jump. Everyone has to start somewhere.