Wood… why? Why would someone decide to be a carpenter in this day and age? He’d been perfect until then: was he even making money? It wasn’t as if he’d lied. If she cared to remember he had indicated in his profile that he worked with wood. But she hadn’t looked much beyond the picture – a hot tanned guy from Italy Mamma mia – and the fact he liked wine and movies. She considered herself a wine aficionado, even throwing such word as ‘attack’ and ‘tannin’ and stuff; it sounded like she was wealthy enough to drink some good wines. And it was easy to pretend having seen many movies… after all there wasn’t much new under the sun was there? And who doesn’t like movies anyway?
They’d had a good time at the movie: well he chose a rom com which was kind but unnecessary. She wasn’t that interested in the on screen romance; she was more focused on hers. But he seemed determined to watch; so she did too. Over a nice dinner he’d asked what she thought of the movie. She made vague answers asking him what he thought of it instead, then agreeing with his perspective. Better than lying or telling the truth. She was a good liar but once she started it was hard to stop: her profile was little more than a bunch of lies. Except for the photo: that was her. And her age. But she wasn’t a sales exec… well she sold coffee at a shop. That wasn’t technically a lie and he wouldn’t know anyway. She’d intended to quit her job once she had one in her pocket.
When he started asking her about the wine though she was stuck for an instant. Until she smiled and said that it would depend on what both of them would eat, wouldn’t it? Thankfully, the menu came with suggestion as to what wine to drink with what particular dish. She did pretend a bit of surprise at the light red with the steak, thinking maybe something a bit more oaky might work too. He agreed with a nod before ordering his food.
But then he brought her here, at his place. Where he worked too. A freakin’ carpenter. Sure the pieces looked nice but how was he making money? The only wood she enjoyed well… She wouldn’t say it, he might think her vulgar. There was a curious smell about the room though: varnish maybe.
“What do you think?”
“It’s beautiful.” She said. It’s weird, she thought.
“No. It’s very creative. I’m impressed.” Shit how did he know? And what were those? Desks?
“These are small secretaries; I sort of used the models they used in the 18th century but twisted it so it would look more modern.”
“That’s great.” What kind of nerd have I found?
He guided her farther down the place: the staircase to his apartment was at the far end of the shop. She wasn’t sure she wanted to go up. The smell was overpowering in the back room. It made her dizzy.
“I love wood. It never lies; you can see the lines that tell you its age, the smell, which reveals its origin and nature. And then you can transform it into something that will please you while you work it and a customer when they see it. It’s a love story between someone and a wooden piece of furniture.”
“People still buy wooden furniture?”
“Of course. But what I love most are those.”
He guided her to a small stand where there were puppets on strings. She was creeped out; she hated puppets. She’d never liked them: the idea of someone pulling strings to make them do this or that. She always hated Pinocchio. She tried really hard to hide a grimace of disgust.
“You don’t like them?”
“No. It’s not that.”
“Don’t lie to me.”
“Puppets are creepy.”
“Does that make me creepy for loving them?”
“No.” Yes a bit.
“You’re lying again.”
She turned around to face him: he was standing very close. His eyes were dilated, as if he were high on something.
“Er Giuseppe, you’re scaring me.”
“Am I? No, you must be lying again. You see I know all about liars. Pinocchio was one; and for that he was turned into a puppet who could never lie.”
“No. No. Pinocchio was a puppet and the Blue fairy turned him real because his father Gepetto wished he were real.”
“Pinocchio was a liar who hurt everyone around him. I was forced to punish him by turning him into wood. As I will you.”
He touched her forehead with one finger; she never had the chance to scream.
Gepetto looked at his newest puppet; it had required work. There were cases where it took a long time before he could force the wood to show its true nature and Helen had been a compulsive liar. He had to clean the wood multiple times, polish it. After almost a month of daily work, the real nature of its soul had appeared. And it was a dark one in every sense of the term. She wasn’t as bad as the soul that required his intervention in Germany in 1945 but at her own level she could have wreaked havoc. He cast a quick look at the one puppet he knew he would never sell and shivered. It was better that way.
Casting a glance at the female puppet, he smiled bitterly. He didn’t enjoy using his power; it felt more like a curse than anything else. But so it was that because his son had caused much pain, the fairy demanded he pay a price too. Someday, in the future, she might forgive the death of her own son and let him die. Until then, he would identify and punish those whose lies would end up hurting too many people. And continue working wood; once it was his passion, now he wondered.
In response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of consciousness Saturday prompt ‘wood/would’