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"The True Story of Pinocchio"

© 1992, Andrew Zimmerman Jones

I wrote this story at age 15.
It was originally published in Calliope #38,
a special critique publication of the newsletter of
American Mensa's Writers' Special Interest Group

"How do you like the new puppet?" Geppetto hesitated a moment before lifting the paintbrush from the puppet's face.

"It's okay," Pinocchio answered, paying little attention to his father's handiwork.

Geppetto ran his tongue over his dry lips, as he always did when he was considering whether or not to say something. "Pinocchio, when was the last time that you talked to the fairy? Did she say when you would be turned into a real boy?"

Pinocchio knew that Geppetto was trying to be helpful, but he just didn't realize how sensitive Pinocchio was about being a puppet and not a human boy. "Is that all that you ever talk about? I am a real boy; I'm just not human. Can't you love me for who I am?"

Pinocchio hated arguing about this every night. He already knew what Geppetto would say next.

He was right.

"I just want you to be the best that you can be."

"Oh, so I'm not good enough for you. I didn't ask to be here! You wished for me."

"I remember." Under his breathe Gepetto muttered, "Sometimes I wish that I hadn't."

"Me too," Pinocchio said as he stormed out of their small shack. Even as he stepped on the dock, he could feel his nose growing longer from the lie. He sat down along the edge of the pier with his feet hanging over the harbor.

Why was it that Geppetto couldn't accept the fact that Pinocchio wasn't good enough to be human?

As he looked out over the harbor he could tell that something was different about tonight. Out in the middle of the harbor there was a magnificent sphere of bright blue light framed against the starless sky. Even the moon was shadowed by its intensity.

And it was heading toward him. Pinocchio was frantic to understand what was happening. He had witnessed many things in his short "life," but this was quite unusual.

When it was directly in front of him, he saw that it was a large glowing ball that floated out above the water and then landed on the pier next to him. It slowly took the form of a beautiful woman. She wore a blue dress, which created a fluid aura around her. Her flowing, blonde hair hung down her back. Her clear blue eyes looked pure and innocent, as if she was immune to the evils of man... the dark recesses that rest inside us all.

Oddly enough, she was one of the few who fully understood them.

"Pinocchio," said the fairy, "I have come to turn you into a human boy."

"No!" Pinocchio said, confused. He'd been sure that he had lost all chances of becoming human. "I don't deserve it. I'm not ready. I do everything wrong and people get hurt."

The fairy smiled a knowing smile. "Tell me of one person who doesn't."

"Father doesn't," Pinocchio said firmly.

"Oh, he doesn't?" A slight smile came across her face, as if she knew some joke that Pinocchio didn't. "At this moment, your father is in the house blaming himself for the fight you just had. He thinks that he's the one that did something wrong."

"But . . . How could he? . . . It's clear that it was my fault."

"Nothing is ever clear where love is concerned," the fairy said. "Go to him, Pinocchio."

The words caused an instant reaction in Pinocchio. He ran into the house to where Geppetto was sitting in a chair crying. He slowly approached and said, "I love you, Father." Geppetto's arms reached out and gripped Pinocchio's body as they clung to each other.

Slowly, Pinocchio's wooden legs began to transform into flesh held tight by skin. He was becoming a real human boy, because he had learned how to love until it hurt. And, more importantly, he had learned how to heal the worst hurt there is -- a broken heart.