Everything was still, frozen in time.
Norman looked down at the saber tooth creature wrapped around his leg, then he looked at Boris: there was something gigantic behind him, like an elephant’s trunk, but ten times bigger. Right next to it, the moonlight filtering through the leaves was being reflected on an iridescent object, but Norman couldn’t quite make out what it was, a medallion maybe?
Just above it, half a dozen small eyes were lurking in the darkness. The young man squinted, trying to define the outline of that peculiar creature, but just as he started to see a pair of wings, everything started moving again at full speed.
He screamed, awakening himself from the recurring nightmare of the scariest day of his life.
For a brief period of time, as all the other boys of the house had vanished, leaving him with no competition, Norman had thought that he would finally get the recognition that he always deserved.
He would have been Mother’s pupil, Gretchen’s mentor and Clara’s new love interest.
What he did not expect was to feel constantly emasculated by all three of them.
If Mother once ignored him, now she just treated him like an imbecile.
Since the day she had lost the others she had become cold, easily irritated and permanently displeased. She would spend most days locked in her room and just hearing Norman’s limping footsteps come towards her would make her sigh with frustration; she seemed to consider him a burden, nothing he did was ever good enough.
Clara on the other hand tried her best to be nice to him: helping him out with his chores, changing the bandages on his leg and giving him always the biggest slice of pie whenever she baked one.
She looked so much like Ruth, with the only difference that the latter was thinner and kept her hair short.
Norman tried to make a move on Clara on several occasions: grabbing her hand in the garden, putting his head on her shoulder at sunset, sitting closer and closer to her at dinner. Yet she never seemed to respond to any of his advances.
But Norman was not easily discouraged and attributed her behavior to shyness.
On her 18th birthday, he spent the whole afternoon arranging flowers in the air with his telekinetic powers, so that when Clara would step foot in the backyard she’d be greeted by a cloud of floating petals; unfortunately the boy did not obtain the desired result. She seemed quite weirded out by this gesture and when he leaned in for a kiss, she politely declined and confessed that she had no interest in him at all.
Despite the rejection he tried to kiss her on three other occasions, until it became painfully obvious that her niceness did not stem from a burning hidden attraction, but rather from a sense of pity towards his condition.
As for Gretchen, it was like interacting with a corpse: she was basically bed ridden and barely spoke a word.
He would try to give her some words of encouragement every now and then, but she seemed to be more receptive to Clara, who would read her a new book every week.
So most times he would just sit there, listening to stories that barely interested him, except for one passage in particular that really struck a chord.
“In the depths of the Schmittman forest lives the tribe of the Kapok fairies, named after the holy tree they inhabit. These six eyed creatures, also known as the ‘Custodians’, have been instructed by the Gods to accommodate any man who desires to store in a safe place his most prized possession, as long as a sacrifice is offered.
Such a gesture should not be made lightheartedly, because recuperating one’s belongings from the tree is not an easy task, for many trials must be passed”.
These words kept Norman awake for many nights. Suddenly a new obsession had taken over, something even more exciting than love. He searched Mother’s library looking for information around the Kapok Fairies, but couldn't quite find what he was looking for.
As much as the thought of going to the village on his own scared him, he didn’t have other options: it was time to leave the nest.
He stuffed his pillow case with a few clothes and some food, planning to hide in one of the train's bathrooms. Maybe Charlie or Ruth would help him once he got to Primadonna.
He got up in the middle of the night, tiptoeing through the bedroom.
“Norman?”, whispered a voice. He turned around, surprised to hear Gretchen finally speak: “Norman, where are you going?”
The young man kissed her forehead: “I’m going to find Mother’s hairloom”.