Alistair Wilkinson Author
Alistair WilkinsonAuthor

Middle 13

This morning I woke him and, before I could whisper  

happy birthday, I saw the horns on his head. His eyelids 

cracked, like the crust of lava, and I could see the glint 

peeking slyly though his lashes that glistened in the lamp- 

light like a fiery lake. His body, defiant, not sleepy like  

yesterday, squirms under his quilt, a coiled, caged snake. 


This morning his arms reach out and I see that his fingers 

end in grasping, tearing claws. He flexes those fingers, 

those cruel, cruel fingers, stretches his arms, still so short, 

so thin and bony, but not delicate like yesterday when 

he was proud but never bragged. Now I see his clenched 

fists, knuckles calloused and hardened, ready to be dragged. 


This morning when he falls from the top bunk and I catch  

him and we share an embrace, he squeezes me so tight, like  

we're saying goodbye. And before I can blink away the image  

of a departing train – or a falling angel - I feel the spikes  

pricking from his knees. I drop him and he stalks from the  

bedroom, shoulders square, spiked elbows angled, a little  

shark that doesn’t gasp for air. 


This morning he thuds down the stairs when just yesterday 

he glided on tiny feet. This morning he smells of rot when 

just yesterday he was a little punnet of strawberries. And those 

dimpled red cheeks won’t fool me today. This morning his 

smile, so wide, so toothy and white and bright, and even 

though he squeezed me so tight: it is a terrible, terrible sight. 


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