Tender hands stroke my shoulder, and the scent of milk and honey infiltrates my nostrils.
It’s nice. Like summer and playing by the pool.
My eyes slowly open, and for a moment, I think I’m seeing an angel with its white halo and soft touch.
It’s not any angel, though. It’s my angel, specially made for me so the other kids can’t see her.
My lips pull up in a smile, but for the first time since she became my angel, she doesn’t return it. Her brows are drawn over darkened eyes and her pale lips are thinned in a line.
“We need to go, sweetheart.”
“But it’s night. Ye said bad kids go out at night, Ma.”
“Aye, but not this time.” She strokes my long hair behind my ear. “Follow me.”
I don’t. I just stare at her. Her clothes are wrong ’cause she’s not wearing one of her beautiful floral dresses. This time, she’s in black trousers and a jacket. It doesn’t look good, even though she is the prettiest ever. She has soft skin like a baby and cotton candy. Her hair is like the sun on a hot summer’s day. Sometimes, I think my mammy came from the sun just to be with me.
No one can escape the burning sun, aye? But Mammy did just so she could be with me every day.
It’s not fun here ’cause I was born in a palace. Naw, it’s not like the palaces from the wee stories Mammy tells me every night. It’s a real one, pure huge one with many men dressed in black and holding heavy metal things.
They keep watching me and Ma ’cause Da wants it. He a big man, my daddy. He a leader, too, and no one raises their voice when he’s there.
Mammy doesn’t play with me either when he’s around. The men in black say I have a duty and can’t play ’cause playing is for losers. I mean, what is duty? It’s not food, ’cause our chef doesn’t cook it for us. Is it like the place we went to in Ireland? People were so mean to Mammy there. I don’t like them.
I only like Mammy ’cause she plays with me in secret and has even built a wee tent where she can teach me and tell me stories about wizards and magical ogres. I love ’em, ogres—they’re massive and no one can beat ’em.
When I grow up, I’m gonna be an ogre to protect my mammy from them daft men in black suits.
“Come on, Kyle. Be a good boy.” Her voice and lips shake. The veins are visible under her skin even in the small light from my side table’s lamp. When I asked her if she has transparent skin, she laughed.
Mammy has the best laugh ever, like them wee sounds from Daddy’s music CDs. It’s Mammy’s laugh that I think of when he’s yelling at me because I’m being a brat. He doesn’t like that I don’t stay with the teachers he brings me. They’re daft and scowl like the guards.
Mammy is smarter, anyway. I like spending time with her and eating all the delicious food she makes me—especially tarts and pancakes.
“Where are we going?”
“Ye don’t need to know.” She shoves some of my clothes in a bag that she brought with her. “Hop on.”
“Mammy…?” I ask, my voice spooked like the little elves from last night’s book. She sounds like ’em men in black suits.
She snatches my coat from behind my room’s door and makes me wear it, then grabs and holds me.
It’s the first time she’s not soft and welcoming. It’s like she’s becoming just like Daddy.
“Don’t be, sweetheart. It’s going to be okay.”
“Really. We’re just going for a wee ride, won’t ye like it?”
“But I’m sleepy.”
“You can sleep in the car.”
“Are we gonna come back in the morning?”
“Sweetheart, would ye like it if we lived far away from here and all those bad men in black suits?”
“Mammy is gonna make it happen. We’ll live far away in a new home.”
My eyes nearly pop out. “A new home?”
“Aye. Wouldn’t ye like that?”
“But what about Daddy?”
Her gaze trails to the door, then back to me. “Don’t worry about him. It’s going to be ye and me.”
“Because ye’re a wizard and I’m an ogre?”
“Exactly.” She ruffles my hair. “Now, I need ye to be silent, sweetheart.”
“Because we don’t want them to stop us.”
“Are the men in black gonna tell Daddy and he’s gonna get mad and punish us?”