He untangled the strings, fingers working with precision at the difficult knots. How it had become such a mess was a mystery to him. None of them could be cut, leaving this convoluted task to his mind alone.
“Is it done?”
“No,” he told his younger brother. “Not yet.”
His brother left him be, moving to the back of the wagon, likely sitting with his legs hanging off the edge to pick up the dust from the moving wheels. Those long limbs would catch a lot of dirt and later he would hear about it when his brother noticed and chose to complain. All of the things his brother could do, he still found time to make his own life difficult. Meantime, he had his own difficulties to deal with, such as these strings.
The hours passed by. His brother interrupted him occasionally and he would send him away. Sometimes his brother dropped out of the wagon, but somehow managed to catch back up and jump back in. He supposed they weren’t going too fast. Good. There would be enough time to finish this task before the strings were needed.
There were two left, nearly embedded with each other. Ragged nails could not pick them apart, almost as if they were one now and this was how the lines should be forever. That could not be allowed and he was running out of time.
He sighed. “No, it’s not. I have these last couple left and they are being…”
“Can I give it a try?”
He looked at his brother and knew he wouldn’t make it worse. “Of course.” Carefully, he placed the strings in his brother’s hands. With a deep frown, his brother fidgeted with the knots, longer fingers having just as much luck as his shorter ones.
“We’re almost to town.”
“I know. And I have to have these free by then.”
His brother nodded, though didn’t remove his eyes from his work. “They’ll like the show. They can’t not.”
“Double negative,” he said instinctively. His brother stuck his tongue out at him without looking. An easy smile rose on his face.
“Doesn’t make it any less true.” That said, his brother handed over two, long, separate strings. “Easy.”
His smile turned to a bigger grin. “You were struggling with that too. I worked out most of the kinks.”
“Not on that one! That was the most difficult and I worked it out.”
He patted his brother on the head. “Sure did, kiddo.”
Before they arrived, he had enough time to string the puppets. Tonight there would be plays.