Arthur peered weakly through the rusting keyhole of his bedroom door. Among the dust and cobwebs of the old stairway, he could just about make out a glimmer of light coming from the kitchen above. A faint shadow entered his view, stealing the spotlight for a moment before a second, clearer shadow chased it out of sight.
The cold basement ceiling trembled under the force of a falling object in the room above him, displacing new dust and old plaster, which scattered about the room. His parents were home. A few anxious beads of sweat soaked into the outer bristles of his straw hair and he jerked back, away from the door, shaking. Clutching his torso, he lifted his shirt and counted the black and blue kisses from Mummy and Daddy. As he got up his hollow stomach writhed and resonated with the walls around him as more objects fell above him. A final thud rattled the room and the procession on top of his chest of drawers suffered the worst it; a series of old framed pictures of his grandparents scattered and shattered into every available cavity. Then fell a stillness in all but Arthur’s brain.
He stepped lightly across the room, delicately navigating the present silence. He began to collect the remains of his grandparents and stow them bit by bit into one of the now open drawers. The drawer was mottled with relics from a puppet theatre his grandparents used to own. For years they shared with him the magic of the marionette, and naturally, when his grandparents took their last bow, it was all handed down to him. Soon, he began making his own puppets and out of scraps of wood and old tin cans he crafted his best friends. He’d put on shows to vacant seats saved for his parents, yet as far as they were concerned, there were no strings attached.
For more, read part 2