Dance, Thumbelina
By Stef Hall
Published: October 16, 2007

Wakefulness ambushed me; a horror of agony. I tried not to move, but it was too late.

"Good morning, Thumbelina, smile for me!"

My face contorted into a grimace as the wires were pulled tight, lifting the corners of my mouth, the hooks tearing afresh at my cheeks with a wet ripping sound. I had never seen the Puppetmaster; I don't know how he discovered my mother's pet name for me. I closed my eyes against the pain but the lids were jerked back by the hooks that passed through the delicate membranes.

"Oh no you don't, Thumbelina! It's time to rise and shine!"

Slowly in turn the wires tightened, raising my hands, my arms, my head and shoulders, dragging me to my feet. The hooks tore away the scabs formed by a night's healing and blood trickled over my skin, warm and tickly.

"Dance, Thumbelina, dance!"

The wires moved and I, unhappy cargo, went with them. I twirled and spun, jette and pirouette.

The wires yanked taught, hooks rending skin and muscle, tearing eyelids and cheeks, bidding blood to run until I left spatters on the floor where I passed.

"Sing, Thumbelina, sing!"

I started screaming.