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Naughty Children

"Naughty Children" is a story by Steven Hause written in collaboration with Brittany Hause. Steven and Brittany are a pair of Bolivian-raised USian siblings who are both in the habit of globe-hopping. At the time of writing, they lived in Japan and the UK, respectively.

There, I've put the final touches on you, my boy. Round ears, smiling mouth, perfect button nose.
Let's hope that this time, appearances are not deceiving, and the twisted log I carved you from hasn't given me another wicked, ungrateful son.
You see, Pinocchio, I made your older brothers out of the same wood as you. In fact, you have Ramolino's feet and Legnetto's hands.
I was so happy when Ramolino came to life! I'd always wanted a child. But sadly, neither he nor Legnetto were good little boys. They would not behave.
Ramolino was a thief. He denied it, but his fingers sprouted fresh green clumps of pine needles every time he stole, so that it was impossible for him to hide the truth of what he'd done.
Foolish, unrepentant child. It broke my heart.
I decided to start over. I threw away the thieving hands and the head that was so full of conniving thoughts. But I kept the rest. I didn't want to waste the wood. One must never be wasteful, Pinocchio. Remember that.
I worked day and night to create Legnetto. He was the finest puppet I had ever carved--until you, of course, my beautiful boy.
Yes, Legnetto was my masterpiece. Or so I thought.
Legnetto was handsome, but he was a stubborn, slothful child. Sometimes, when I asked him to do the simplest of chores, he would refuse and put down roots. Imagine that, Pinocchio! Just like the tree he came from. It was as if he didn't want to be a real boy at all. The legs I'd worked so hard to get just right grew knobbly and misshapen. His perfect wooden shoes were marred beyond repair. I had to begin again, as with Ramolino.
But now you're here, Pinocchio. This time, I'm certain I've got it right. Finally, I have the son I always wanted.
Geppetto walked to the door of his workshop and twisted the key on the oil lamp hanging on the wall. Slowly, the golden light suffusing the room sputtered and died away.
The sun had long since set. Except for a cricket chirping somewhere in the grass, everything was quiet.
Just before he stepped out for the night, Geppetto said, "I love you, son."
"I love you too, Father," Pinocchio replied.
It was too dark for Geppetto to see the marionette's nose grow before the door clicked shut.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Author Comments

The inspiration for this story grew mostly out of musings on some of the ways God is popularly described as a father to his creations. Some prevalent takes on the concept of God as a parent to the people he's made are comforting and uplifting in their implications. Others are less so.

- Steven Hause and Brittany Hause
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