He felt a tingling sensation shoot up, down, and throughout his body. He touched his hand to his chest to check he was real. He was soft, fuzzy, and warm to the touch. He didn’t recall anything happening before this instant.
It was dark. He felt around, encountering an object immediately before him. It shook when he touched it, and a slit of light leaked into the room. He smiled when he saw the rainbow pattern on his arm. His hand opened and closed, and he released a giggle, then looked toward the source of light. He placed an eye against it.
There was a whole room outside this smaller, more cramped room. The larger room was brighter, and there were things scattered across the floor with which he felt compelled to play. He raised his hand to the light and pulled at the thing obscuring the rest of the wonderful room. The thing slid away, and the light hit him at once.
He stood in awe a moment, then reached for a doll at his feet, which somehow stood out to him as being his favorite. He held it to his chest and hugged it tight, smiling big, then a sound from across the room caught his attention. A small person was sleeping in a tiny bed, making odd sounds that seemed involuntary. He stepped over numerous objects as he approached.
Peeking through vertical bars, he saw the person of similar size, sleeping, dreaming, and smiled again. The small person looked soft, and he wondered if it felt the same way. One hand left the doll and reached through two bars to find the person’s gentle face.
Before contact, he wondered if he should risk waking the person. The person looked content and divinely so; he couldn’t be responsible for interrupting. His arm trailed back, and his hand found the doll again.
He admired the sleeping person a while longer, not realizing how tightly he clutched the doll in his hands. “I’ll be there for you!” it screeched, scaring him. He dropped it at his feet.
The person previously asleep let out a sound that made him sad; short, cut-off cackles that accompanied streams of water leaking from its eyes. He wanted to make the person feel okay again, but the sound of approaching feet outside the room gave him the odd feeling he should hide. He hurried toward the smaller room and dragged the door to its original position, casting himself into darkness except for the familiar slit of light. He pressed an eye against it.
Two bigger persons entered the room, one of whom reached into the bed and picked up the smaller person. The other made shh noises while the first shook the smaller person gently up and down. When the smaller person became quiet, the two bigger persons lay the smaller person down and left the room.
Basking in his guilt, he vowed never to come out of the smaller room again.
With the passing years came the increase in stuff with which he found himself sharing the smaller room. Weird, soft things hung from a rod whose purpose he now realized. The soft things were the things the small person wore. He knew this because the small person was big enough now to move about on two legs like the bigger persons and came in occasionally looking for different ones to wear. When it did, he found he either became invisible or the small person chose not to see him, because it would look at him but continue selecting the soft things. This made him sad.
At one point, it’d occurred to him that persons were distinguished into boy and girl categories; words like he, him, and his were used to identify boys while words like she, her, and hers were used to identify girls. He realized the person in whose smaller room he resided was a girl.
He peeked through the space between the door and the frame and saw the girl lying in her bed, which had upgraded in size. She’d turned off the lights, and the room had fallen into a profound darkness.
The room had undergone many changes since his first encounter. The objects scattered on the floor were in greater number, but the doll he’d favored was the only one to which the girl clung while she slept. He comforted in the thought that she liked the doll as much as he did.
As the girl slipped into her dreams, he found himself reconsidering the vow he’d made years ago. It’d be okay to come out since the girl couldn’t see him. He slid the wooden door open for the second time and eased out of the smaller room.
The carpet was cool against his colorful feet. He admired the change in temperature, then acknowledged an object he didn’t remember from the corner of his eye. He turned and saw a small pink table with two plastic cups and a chair. Something told him he should sit but not in the chair. He approached the table, sitting across from the chair with a wide smile, and waited for the girl to wake.
The girl stirred a bit, causing him to become nervous. Maybe he was invisible in the smaller room but not here. His rainbow arms trembled, but it was too late. The girl rubbed her eyes and sat up in her bed.
He braced himself for a scream or more streams of water, readied himself for the guilt he’d feel for causing it, and prepared himself to resume the vow he’d made years ago, but none of this occurred. The girl’s face glowed, her short brown hair whooshing behind her as she pushed herself out of bed and rushed toward him. She pulled the pink, plastic chair from under the matching pink table and plopped down, never taking her eyes off him. A hand reached out to him, her hand, and it stayed there. He looked at it, realizing he should stretch his out, too. Her hand gripped his, and she swayed it up and down. He knew she’d be soft.
She giggled, reaching under the table and picking up a larger, rounder cup with a lid and spout. She rested the spout over the plastic cup closest to her and poured a wonderful-looking liquid into it. It sparkled in the dim light, blue and orange with twinges of light that made him happy. The girl held the odd cup with the spout high over the table and said in an odd tongue, “Would yew like a spo’ of tea, love?”
He nodded vigorously, eager to taste the sumptuous drink called tea. She handed him the cup, and he drank. It tasted like love and reminded him of candy. He’d never tasted candy but somehow knew this was how it’d taste.
“Slow down, love! Yew don’ wan’ to become blew, d’ yew?” she said in the same tongue.
His eyes widened, and he looked at his arms, imagining them without their diversity. He dropped the cup upon the table, and the tea spilled everywhere, including onto his legs.
“No’ to worry, love. This is a special tea. It never spills.” She demonstrated by spilling her own tea onto the floor. The liquid vanished into the carpet and materialized in both cups, the exact amount spilled. “See? No’ to worry.” She raised her cup, and he raised his. “T’ yew, ’Bow, my new best friend.” Their cups came together, making a hollow sound, and they tipped the cups over their mouths.
When he finished his tea, ’Bow saw himself in a reflective thing across the room. He had rainbow fuzz and a big, round head with short, multicolored hair that partially covered his neck and ears. His reflection smiled, and he did, too.
Every day was like this. ’Bow and the girl played in her room, in the front yard, in the backyard, in the car, at church, at school, at the hospital, at the babysitter’s, and everywhere else. They were inseparable, but, one day, things began to change. Sometimes when ’Bow and the girl would normally color together in church, the girl would sit facing forward in the long bench like the bigger persons, ignoring ’Bow. At the babysitter’s, she’d spend more time with the babysitter than she would with ’Bow, and at school, she’d talk to a boy who made her red in the face.
After a while, ’Bow stopped going with her to all those places. When she took the bus to school or was dropped off at her babysitter’s by the bigger persons, ’Bow remained in her closet, awaiting her arrival but not feeling the excitement he used to feel.
One day, he felt compelled to come out. His head felt heavy, and his arms were strong. He found his head reached the bar in the smaller room and hit his head against it and some shirts. When he reached the door, the slit of light fell onto his arm, revealing a thick tuft of black fur and claws for fingers. His eyes widened as he tore open the door.
In the light he could see that the black fur didn’t stop at his arms. It covered his entire body from his ankles to the highest portion of his chest he could see, and his feet were without skin, revealing long, white bones that narrowed into claws. He approached the reflective thing across the room and gasped. On top of a black, scary torso sat a long, white skull with two long horns that projected from the top and two gaping holes that stared menacingly. The sound of a jiggling doorknob made him jump.
The girl had come home earlier than expected, and she screamed. ’Bow hurried toward the smaller room, but now she called to Mom and Dad, the two bigger persons with whom she lived. Footsteps thundered toward the girl’s room. She screamed the words, skeleton-man, skeleton-man! pointing toward the smaller room in which he hid, and Mom and Dad opened the sliding door.
Dad’s face was so close he could feel his breath on his face, but his eyes never locked. He closed the door, assuring the girl there was nothing. ’Bow felt he should explain himself once Mom and Dad left, but the girl had set down her backpack and was gone before he could do so.
The next day was similar. ’Bow came out while the girl prepared for sleep, and the girl screamed like yesterday. Mom and Dad seemed more concerned this time and read to her from a book to make her sleep.
’Bow’s day-to-day attempts became week-to-week, then month-to-month. He cried, not understanding how the girl could abandon him, then his sadness became anger. He decided if she’d scream every time she saw him, he should have some fun. When he heard her feet, he forced the smaller room door open and leapt out with a ferocious roar, making her scream and rush toward the safety of her bed. He did this to her every night to make her understand her wrongdoing, but each night, her screams became less intense. One night, she didn’t scream but jumped. When she jumped, an object fluttered from her hands to the carpeted floor.
’Bow bent to pick it up and saw an image of the girl holding a boy. ’Bow looked from the happy image of the girl in his hands to the melancholy girl standing before him, then handed her the image.
The girl sauntered toward her bed, crumpling the image in her hand, and lay down. She pulled her knees to her chest, disregarding the blanket at her feet.
’Bow felt her sadness and approached. When he arrived by her side, he lifted the blanket and dragged it over her shivering body, his sharp fingers resting harmlessly over her head. He hung his head.
On the floor, projecting from under the bed was the arm of a familiar doll. ’Bow smiled as he bent to pick it up. He brushed off the dust and cobwebs and held it a moment, remembering the scary times it had helped him and the girl endure; the times when the weather boomed, the times when dreams weren’t pleasant. ’Bow found the girl no longer used the doll.
’Bow leaned over the girl’s bed, lifted the blanket, and tucked the doll into the girl’s arms, then retreated to the smaller room.
The girl held the doll a moment, then clutched it to her teary face. “I’ll be there for you!” the doll said in a shrill voice. The girl sat up.
Under smeared makeup, she smiled, then crawled out from the blanket. She met ’Bow across the room and hugged him. When she did, ’Bow saw color return to his arms. The thick, black fur that covered his body became short, colorful fuzz, and he felt his face shorten and the weight of two horns disappear. In the reflective thing behind the girl, ’Bow could see his usual, colorful self smiling back at him.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, M. Anthony WillettWrite a Review