Baby Teeth: Bite-sized tales of terror
making car noises. He was almost asleep.
    â€˜Timothy, did you tell them about her eyes?’ I asked. It took him a moment to find me, sitting on top of his toy garage. The cars were too small for me to climb into, but the garage, from a different set of cars, was just about the right size.
    â€˜Her eyes change colour and when she sneezes there’s another eye inside,’ he replied, nodding.
    â€˜That’s right. And we have to put her in the mushroom ring in the garden to make things right.’
    â€˜What did you say?’ my father asked, half-raising his head.
    â€˜My big sister is a monster,’ Timothy replied. ‘You can tell from her eyes.’
    â€˜You don’t have a big sister, son. Just a little sister.’
    I thought I might have to hide but my father had spoken without opening his eyes. There was drool on the blankets next to his mouth.
    Timothy tried to explain. ‘I have a little, little sister and a big little sister. The little one says the big one isn’t human and we should put her in the garden.’
    It didn’t sound any better to me than it did to my father, but it was my only chance. I decided to give my father a little push. I climbed onto the bed and whispered into his ear.
    â€˜Fresh air would help her sleep better. Maybe even sleep through the night. And a photo of her in a mushroom ring would be cute.’
    He rubbed his eyes and sat up. I jumped off the bed and ducked back through the skirting into the walls. I still had my step-mother to deal with.
    She was just waking when I returned to our little nest in the attic. I climbed into my bed and pretended to sleep. I heard her get up, use the chamber pot and empty it, and walk into the part of the attic we used as our kitchen. I caught a whiff of stew as she lifted the lid from the pot.
    â€˜It should be nearly ready,’ I said, sitting up. ‘I worked extra hard on it while you were sleeping.’
    â€˜Good girl,’ my step-mother replied. ‘It smells delicious.’
    â€˜I added garlic, and mint,’ I said, climbing back out of my bed and walking to the kitchen. I don’t know how my step-mother hid our dwelling from the family, even when they came up to the attic, or how she made our toy oven produce real heat, but we had a comfortable set-up. Almost a happy home.
    â€˜Sit down. I’ll get you a bowl.’
    I pushed in front of my step-mother and began ladling the food into two bowls. Flakes of father-skin floated in the stew, along with pollen and leaves. When my step-mother turned to sit at the table I slipped a chunk of changeling flesh into her bowl and gave it a quick stir. Curious, I added some to my own bowl too.
    â€˜You’re a good child,’ she repeated, stretching her wings and scratching her head. ‘I know I give you a hard time, but it’s only to save you from yourself. You can’t help the way you were born.’
    â€˜Why did you take me, Mother? When you had a daughter of your own?’
    She shook her head and I feared she wouldn’t answer, but eventually she spoke.
    â€˜It’s our way. Your brother wasn’t conceived under this roof but you were. I saw an opportunity for me to have a child of my own, too. But she has to spend time with her father before I take her. That’s our way.’
    â€˜Her father?’ I didn’t want to ask, but I knew I might not have another chance. ‘My father?’
    â€˜She’s your half-sister, girl. What did you think that meant?’
    She ate a spoonful of stew, chewing on a hunk of skin. I sniffed my spoon before swallowing a bite of my father’s flesh. I hoped it was a taste I’d grow to miss.
    â€˜It’s different,’ my step-mother said, her spoon half-way between her mouth and bowl. ‘But it’s still a family. We’ll have her soon enough, all to ourselves.’
    She ate another mouthful.
    â€˜You’ll keep me, when we get her

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