The Marionette King

Prince Marion entered this world as his mother exited it. An ordinary fact of life that applies to royals as much as to commoners.

The king was a loving father and as such felt great sorrow and guilt to not be able to give his son the ordinary gift of having a mother.

Prince Marion cried for the first year of his life, not a cry of attention that demands but a cry of true loss that sobs and cannot be soothed by a loving father.

On Marion’s first birthday the people of the kingdom brought many gifts to honor the motherless prince. One of those gifts was marionette dolls crafted in the likeness of the prince’s dead mother and living father. For the first time in his life the young prince stopped crying and smiled.

The doll maker was brought before the king and was invited to live in the castle and to create more marionette dolls to bring smiles to the prince’s face.

Marion was fascinated with the dolls and eventually with doll making. He apprenticed under the doll maker from the time he was 3 until he was 10. And as sometimes happens, the doll maker passed peacefully in his sleep.

Marion begins to build a world of both the living and the deceased. Marion creates a doll that is his finest work up until that point. It is of the doll maker. Marion builds a miniature workshop for the marionette doll maker to continue his work. Soon his world fills the tiny space of the workshop in the castle.

Marion’s father, the king, loves his son very much and does not want his son to suffer. The king and father stores all of the deceased queen mother’s possessions and gives the largest bedroom in the castle to his son to allow him the space to create more dolls and miniatures.

From the ages of 10 to 15 Marion never left his room. He built night and day. The room was filled with his creations.

Then on his 16th birthday his father threw a party for his only son. “6 years is long enough to mourn.”

“Come see this world and all of it’s wonder. There is love here. Meet the girls of this kingdom, there are all types; tall, short, fat, skinny, beautiful, ugly and even the ordinary.”

Marion had never been ordinary. His life had always been full of extraordinary with the occasional “as sometimes happens.”

This was the first time in his life his father the king had asked him for anything. Marion loved his father very much and even though it caused him much suffering of anxiety he agreed to visit his father’s world. A world of death and sadness.

Alivia is what he heard. But her name was Olivia. She was an exceptionally ordinary girl. She had a strength about her. She had lived an unprotected life. Whatever weaknesses that had been in her had long ago been eaten by the dogs. What was left was a sureness and strength that comes with the acceptance of your role in life and the inevitability of death as a fact.

Their talk was of ordinary things. They talked about the food. They talked about the music. They talked about the dresses. They talked about the rug.

The following morning Marion returns to his world. His world is full of magic as usual. But it all seems a little less today. What would Alivia think? Marion tells his mom about Alivia. He dances in his marionette kingdom as he describes her ordinary features and recants their conversations. His mother stares at him blankly. He visits the doll maker. It is much of the same.

Marion leaves his room to visit with Olivia at her home. Olivia, the second born child of three, packs a few things to eat and a blanket. They walk in the woods having conversations about ordinary things. Olivia had repaired a hole in her dress earlier that morning and described the process in vivid detail.

Olivia stopped talking. She placed her bag on the ground and pulled out a bow while staring at something in the woods. It was a deer grazing. The deer looked up and into Marion’s eyes. Then the deer’s eyes winced in pain. The deer started to run. Olivia yelled to Marion to keep up as she chased after the deer and landed another arrow in the back of the deer’s head. It collapsed.

“What have you done?” Marion asked.

“I’ve fed and clothed my family today.” she replies in a factual manner.

Marion runs. He doesn’t stop until he is back in his room. He doesn’t even answer his king, the father,  as he runs past him. He must make it back to his world. Now.

Marion makes a doll to represent the deer that just lost it’s life. Then he makes a doll of Alivia. At first it is ordinary in his crafting. All the usual building blocks he has used to make his other dolls. But slowly the doll takes on a more sinister look. The eyes are a little more narrow than he usually paints. The hair is coarser. He doesn’t bother combing out the tangles. Her clothes are dark and drab.

Marion feels lonely for the first time in his world. So he builds a doll of extraordinary beauty.

Alivia becomes jealous of this new doll and the happiness that it gives Marion. In Alivia’s attempt to kill Marion’s new love she lands an arrow in the back of the head of Marion’s father, the king, just like the deer. Alivia is captured and thrown into prison.

With Marion’s father, the king, now dead, Marion is crowned and is named The Marionette King. Marion’s kingdom begins to crumble as he tries to control his father’s world’s encroachment on his own.

The King, Marion’s father, watches his son slip away from him. He cannot protect his son from his own thoughts. Olivia visits Marion at least once a week. The conversations are always one sided as Olivia talks and The Marionette King stares off into his own world. Olivia keeps returning in hopes Marion will snap out of it. Olivia has never met someone as extraordinary as Marion, The Marionette King.

Years pass. Marion’s father invites Olivia to live in the castle so he can take care of her. Olivia continues to try to penetrate Marion’s world but she is often met with an absent stare or incomprehensible angry rants aimed somewhere past her own sight.

Eventually, as sometimes happens, the king and Olivia fall in love. She is mature for her age and he is caring and kind. The many hours spent talking about Marion has created a bond between them. All other aspects of their lives have fallen away.

Marion is blessed with a brother. Seth is forbidden to visit the kingdom of The Marionette King.

And as sometimes happens, the king and loving father takes his final breath. As Seth sits next to the dying king, the world around Seth starts to slowly grow dark. But another light begins to grow in the distance. Until it is the only thing that Seth can see.

Seth reaches out his hands to probe the air around him. He feels nothing. He keeps his eye’s fixed on the glowing light at the distance. Things have grown quiet. He can only hear his breath. He slowly takes a step towards the light. Still groping for anything to grab onto. He only grabs air.

As Seth makes his way towards the light. The light becomes brighter and he starts hearing murmurs of talking and laughing. The light starts to take shape. First as a slit of light. Then the slit grows into a rectangle. Seth probes with his hands to touch the light. He feels something. He pushes the door open.

“Welcome brother, I am The Marionette King and we shall live forever in my extraordinary kingdom.”

The Marionette King - Short Story
inspired by my morning doodle -brian