Monday, April 26, 2010

Chapter Ninety

“Please,” says Gepetto. “Please, take us home.”

The wishing star continues to twinkle, equally oblivious to the thundering storm and the old man’s prayers.

After a long, despairing look into the Enchanted Mirror, the old woodcarver slowly and painfully rises from his knees.

Perhaps in the morning, if the Blue Fairy doesn’t come, when the Blue Fairy doesn’t come, he’ll tell his son that this is their home now, and the wish was granted after all.

The belly of a monster - of a dead monster - isn’t much, but the two are together once more, and that’s all that should matter.

Pinocchio keeps his innocent gaze upon the Mirror, smiling slightly.

“I think it’s working,” he whispers, and holds it up for his father to see. The star shines brightly, as it has for centuries, as it will for centuries.

“I’m sure it is, Pinocchio,” Gepetto says with a sad smile. He tousles the boy’s head, but Pinocchio's wooden hair cannot move. “Now why don’t we go to sleep, and things will be aright in the morning.”

And the old man trudges toward the pathetic planks and pieces of flotsam that protect him from the dead still lurking within Monstro.

The wind continues to howl as another storm churns the Seventh Sea. Monstro groans a dull roar in protest of the crashing waves, towering even over the great beast itself. There is the noise of ever-rushing water, peculiar when heard from within the caverns of Monstro.

Gepetto shivers, and the change in the air causes him to wonder. What breeze would there be in here, inside a creature that no longer breathes, but only eats? Where would the wind come from?

Pinocchio’s smile grows wider. “It’s working,” he says again, and grabs hold of his father’s hand. “She’s coming!”

The storm hits them suddenly, immediately, against the laws of nature and weather, for the typhoon, the hurricane, the rain and the wind and the lightning, it is all there inside Monstro, coursing through its belly.

The wind catches hold of Pinocchio, grabbing him, ripping at him, snatching him from the hands of his father. Gepetto is unable to cry out or scream, for the world has gone silent in a mess of water and wind, and Pinocchio is pulled, screaming, into the darkness, through the inky blackness of the bottom of the sea, and momentarily, the Mermaid is with him once more, holding him close in her soft and sure arms, as the water becomes lighter, brighter, warmer, calmer, the waters of Neverland, within her own little house of treasures, and there is the hook, here is the Mirror in his shirt, he bobs in the cold and dark waters of night, only to fall upwards, upwards and dry and even the explosion of the pirate ship is nothing compared to the rushing of the wind and of the storm and of time, and Pinocchio is pulled, ever so briefly, across the decks of the Jolly Roger, only to swim out once more, touching for a moment the polished gold of the lost Candelabra, and they are on the beach again, all of them, the Lion and the Clock and the Candelabra and the little wooden boy, chasing - or being chased by - those poor, lost, dead boys in their animal skins, and they walk and run past trees and bushes and blades of grass, and there is for one bright and shining moment the Doorway marked Neverland, and the world is so different as they march still, trapped in silent and minute conversations as the wind funnels them ever backward, through another Doorway, to the lonely castle of the Beast, where a rifle shot goes unnoticed and blood drips from the Lion’s mouth into the corpse of the hunter, alive again and walking cautiously out the door, but they rush just as cautiously after him, the Lion and Pinocchio, through empty forests, past dying towns, and the ground puffs up as bullets fly through the air and back toward their owners, unobserved by the duo, and another Doorway, and tears fall into the puppet’s eyes once more when the Lion stalks off into the shadows, for Pinocchio is alone, alone, abandoned by his friend the Little Pig, as he crawls through the top of a Doorway, seeing the Little Pig alive and stout once more, methodically unbricking the Doorway, and there is a moment where he sees the Big Bad Wolf, all teeth and eyes and tongue, away from the Castle of the Door, down the roads of his old lands, hurling rocks at the Wolf, and crying by the side of the road, where the Little Pig departs for his own destiny, leaving Pinocchio to cry and wander and sit by a well, surrounded by the dead, then to find himself at sea once more on that horrible island where boys turn into jackasses, the fun and games and the smoke and the liquor and the boat ride back to his hometown, where people bustle by silently, as that friendly fox and cat advise him not to go to school but to play and enjoy life, then they are gone as well, for Pinocchio is pulled, skipping innocently, into the shop of Gepetto, where he sits at his workbench, and suddenly the storm and wind and magic disappear, sound returns, the sound of the townsfolk, the ticking of the cuckoo clocks, the whistling of his father, well-fed and clean and amazed to find himself hard at work on a toy soldier, and his son leaps into his lap and says:

“It came true, Father. We’re home.”