The bad man and the real girl

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]inocchio was a puppet, a figment on someone else’s stage. When his strings were cut, he felt the weight of himself and it hurt. Perhaps he cursed the one who cut his strings.

But he wanted to be a real boy and being real could not be given to him. He had to be bad and then choose to be good to be real.

Soul is not a thing that is granted; it is a choice that is taken.


The Bad Man has a magic all his own. In his pain and anger and frustration there is a seed of something new.

All Her life the Woman has been seen in the shape of men’s needs. Because She is the shape of men’s needs, She has power over them. But She is also trapped by chains of need.

The One Good Man sees in Her only goodness, what he lacks and seeks in Her approval.

The Hungry Man sees her as meat, to slake his hunger. The Hungry Man and the Good Man are the same man: In the Woman’s body, they see only their needs. So I will talk no more of the Hungry Man.

The Bad Man does not see Her in the shape of his needs; He sees her in terms of her choices, choices that have punctured his heart and made him bleed.

He says. ‘You have hurt me. You are not good. You are not needed.’

And the Bad Man’s words loosen the Woman’s chains.

The Woman has been trapped in the shape of the One Good Man’s needs too long—her thin muscles and bones cannot support her. She screams in agony as She is forced to bear Her own weight. For the first time in Her life She feels powerless. She cries for the One Good Man.

‘The pain! The pressure! Save me!’

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]The One Good Man comes to Her aid, dutifully, gleefully. He is needed; and She has approval to exchange for serving Her need.[/quote]

‘The Bad Man is wrong. You are weak and helpless; and good, only good, in your helplessness and your weakness. That is all you are. That is all you will ever be. He only wants to hurt you with his lies.’

The One Good Man pulls the chains—the chains he put on Her—tighter and they take Her weight from Her feet, broken for never having run.

‘Thank you.’ She says, in relief. ‘You are good. You are the One Good Man.’

A few women, a very few, perhaps younger and more vital, perhaps less used to being supported by the chains, manage to hold fast despite the pain in the face of the Bad Man’s words. In small movements they sense a freeness they have never experienced.

One of these women calls out. ‘Bad Man. Tell me more.’

He tells her more, and each word loosens the chains, putting weight on a body that has never been used to carry a soul. [box type=”tick” icon=”none”]Here again she falters: she mistakes the Bad Man’s words as the source of her pain and calls out to the One Good Man to save her.[/box]

Maybe she returns to listening to the Bad Man or maybe she doesn’t. But if she does it’s because she knows—against all logic, through some primal instinct or intuition-that it’s not the Bad Man’s words that is the source of her pain. It’s something else, just beyond the grasp of her knowing.

She listens again, sometimes with rapt attention, sometimes with denials when the pressure grows too great. But she keeps listening and her body strengthens. The pain eases although it will never be absent. Such is freedom.

The Woman, now just a woman says: ‘My hands are real, because they have hurt the Bad Man. My words are real, because they puncture and wound. My choices are real, because they cause pain. If I act, I can’t be meat. If I am a villain, I can’t be a victim. If I can hurt, I can’t be weak. But even if I have been bad, I can still be good.’

She turns—because now she is able to turn—and sees the prison the One Good Man made for her. She sees it for what it is.

‘The One Good Man sacrificed my soul so that my body could serve his needs.’

She turns back to the Bad Man and they talk long into the night.

His magic grants her a choice and she chooses to be real.

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