Marionette by Nod Ghosh

You pull her up on two-strings, one-string, ten strings. You make her dance her necessary steps, and then you stand her still. When she says ‘please’, you pretty her into indigo happiness, and then you drop her on the ground. Her bamboo legs unfold, her skirt splayed, displayed like an open orchid.

A crowd gathers, curious, not knowing what will happen next. But you don’t want them to see everything you can do to her, this other widow-woman, with her spine made from bricks, her heart on stilts.

She bears all the glitz and silence of an outsider, but she only goes outside when you let her. She is yours, your mother-bride. Seek and hide. The crowd tosses coins, small boys cheer, pleading for more of her catapulting dance. You pour what you can into her, even lose part of yourself in her, though you keep the best for yourself, your hammer-ankles, your wan loathing.

Through your offerings she thrives and feeds small mammals in passing. They leave droppings, oblong turds that stick to your shoes.

You pull her up on two-strings, and then you stop.

Your shoes clack as you walk away.

When the two of you sleep, you hold her close, her hair jasmine and mildewed. You watch her sunless repose in the palm of your hand.

Originally from the U.K., Nod Ghosh lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Truth Serum Press published the novella-in-flash The Crazed Wind in 2018, and will release Filthy Sucre (three novellas) in early 2020. For further details on other publications visit

Woman with string tied to her limbs like a marionette
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