Royal Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition (Senior Category) - Silver Award
I knew this was my moment. This was my moment to capture the dozens of keen, piercing eyes scrutinising my every move. There was no room for a single error, not even one tiny, minuscule mistake. This was all I ever wanted! A chance to dance before the world, an opportunity to perform on a world acclaimed stage. I took a deep breath, and the curtains—
The puppeteer halted his sewing. The fine silver needle paused midair, balancing precariously between the nimble fingers of the old man. He looked up from his half moon glasses at the numerous canisters of fluids dangling from the ceiling of his basement. Below each glowing solution of a myriad of colours was a single pod, holding a sleeping individual. Upon each of their faces was a blissful and innocent smile, like that of a child, ignorant of the worries of the world.
is aged eyes drifted to focus on the solitary compartment in the corner of the dimly lit workshop. The luminous blue liquid had been used up, leaving only mere drops of it as remnants. The old man gave a frustrated sigh. He had been too distracted by his newest masterpiece that he had neglected one of his customers once more. Placing the puppet on the wooden desk gingerly, he got up and picked up one of the countless bottles placed beneath his table.
he puppeteer discarded the emptied bottle on the mouldy floor of his workshop while the blue solution in the refilled canister above the pod bubbled vibrantly. The female lying within immediately curled up in contentment. Her dream had continued smoothly. She would never know that what she was experiencing was just an induced state of pleasure, from the drugs administered to her.
icking up the unfinished puppet, wizened hands proceeded with the sewing. The puppet was almost complete. It had taken him longer than usual to sew this very puppet, but he knew it would be worthwhile. The blue ones were always the most entertaining, even though they required the most effort. The audience loved it when he performed with puppets filled with such life and vibrancy.
he puppeteer operated the needle with finesse. Each stitch was sewn flawlessly, piecing the puppet together with wonder, life and astonishing charm. In his hands, the silver needle glinted and glimmered, twirling between pieces of fabric as the thread brought together the cloth, transforming lifeless patches of textile into a beautiful and enchanting doll. He was the best puppeteer and puppet maker in the city and there was good reason why.
titch. One more fragment of the dream was imbued into the puppet.
Lights blinded me as I twirled.
Stitch. Thread joined pieces of cloth filled with passion.
Twirling. Spinning. Music played in beat to my dance steps.
Stitch. One final knot to bind puppet to owner, forever.
Thunderous applause met my ears as I took a bow. It was the most fulfilling moment of my life. This was all I ever wanted.
The old man snipped off the red thread that was the source of his power. Without it, he would not have been able to create such wondrous puppets that captivated hundreds every night. Twirling the final strands of the red thread, he kept it safely in his pocket. The old man cradled his completed masterpiece in his arms, admiring it. This would definitely be his magnum opus, his finest creation. He was sure. He had never seen such potential and passion in any of his customers before. He walked to stand over the girl’s pod. She was barely sixteen, with flowing brown hair and an unblemished innocence. All she ever wanted was to perform for the world to see. She was filled with undiscovered talent, yet her only outlet was him.
he had come to him on a stormy night, asking for her dreams to be turned into reality. He knew the moment he took a look at her. His eyes, though old, had not hindered his ability to identify gifts of nature when he saw it. He had accepted her immediately and brought her to her own pod, away from the common compartments which held the comparatively uneventful ambitions of fame and fortune. These useless beings, he could only convert them into simple puppets which held not much value in his performance. He usually sold these dreams away at his front shop for thousands to unknowing customers who were captivated by them. They were charming puppets, but they were not extraordinary. He had no need for wealth. All he wanted was the chance to create the most beautiful puppets in the world. It had always been his dream and now he could do it thanks to the red thread and these passionate individuals. His discovery had transformed him into the most acclaimed performer and puppet maker ever. His abilities were unparalleled even at such an old age. He had achieved his dreams through that of others, and his business was thriving like never before.
t was only the blue ones though, always the blue ones. They were the best dreams that he needed. He hung the finished puppet beside the canister that was bubbling and glowing with an ethereal blue. The puppet was a replica of the girl sleeping peacefully, having claimed the satisfaction of a dream come true. The brown hair on the puppet was identical to hers, the same shade with curls. Its emerald crusted eyes were the exact colour of the girl’s, which the man had etched into his memory the day he saw her.
he puppeteer gave a poignant sigh, knowing full well that her happiness would be short lived. The brutality of having her dreams ripped away from herself was sufficient to cause her to fade away. It always happens the same way. Owners of the most prominent dreams always disintegrated the quickest. He took a final glance at the young lady before him, sad that he had to let her life slip away from him, but he knew there was no other way to fulfil her wishes.
acing past the rest of the pods, he checked the various canisters of fluids. They glimmered and shined in the dark and musty basement which he had converted to be his workshop. They glowed in a multitude of colours – fiery orange, royal purple, leaf green. It was beautiful, just like the dreams he captured.
e checked the liquid levels of the canisters, replacing them where necessary. He chucked the final emptied bottle on the ground. The hour hand on the wall showed that it was approaching six o’clock in the evening. It was almost time for his performance tonight. He had to prepare soon.
he old man was about to collect his puppets for the show when he heard the clinking of the front door.
he people of the city liked his performance as much as they favoured buying puppets they would never use, but it was rather rare that he would have a customer so close to the start of his performance.
he puppeteer clambered up the steps hastily, thinking about his act. It was the first time his masterpiece would be showcased and the very thought of it filled him up with excitement. He pushed open the door that led to his front shop, beside his puppet theatre. A young girl was browsing through his extensive collection of puppets on display. One of them caught her eye and she took the orange haired puppet off the shelf. It was pretty, with a flowing red dress and big brown eyes.
he door clicked shut behind him, pulling the girl’s attention away from the puppet to the old man. She looked at him, enthusiasm filling up her eyes. The puppet in her arms was forgotten the moment she set her eyes on the man. There was clearly something she wanted other than the toy.
“Can you really turn my dreams into reality?” Her passion was overflowing and the puppeteer knew it at once.
e looked at the clock hanging on the wall. He still had some time for one more puppet, he figured. Stretching out an inviting hand towards the girl, he gave her a warm smile. In his mind, he calculated the price she would be worth. He had the best puppet for his stage, now he could focus his energies on weaving these dreams into beautiful dolls for sale. It was always a wonder how people would pay extravagant amounts just for a single puppet that captivated them, though only for a moment.
he old man led the girl down the rickety steps into the dimly lit basement. The sole bulb flickered weakly as the door clicked shut behind them. Outside, it was a stormy night. The sign of his shop glowed eerily in neon colour. The words were distinct even in the heavy downpour, reading: Dream Maker.