There were eyes beneath his bed, gleaming orange and fierce. He couldn't decide what was scarier, leaning over and exposing his head to whatever was hiding there or not knowing what it was up to at all. And each time he got scared enough, or drew enough bravery from his small patchwork bed, he stole a quick peek and gasped to see their glow, unblinking, staring and waiting.
He slept about an hour every night.
In the mornings, his mother would place his cereal before him, patting his head and watch him eat, slowly taking drags from her cigarette as she leaned against the sink. Her fingers were stained with ink, dark and bruised, matching the rings beneath her tired but eager eyes. Nearing the time when he would tilt the bowl back and slurp the purple milk tasting like crystals, and catching the last marshmallow charm, he began to see fairies flitting back and forth. The knobs on the cabinets began to smile and wink at him, and the birds sitting on the tree branches outside the window whistled to him, encouraging him to get ready for school. His head felt too large for his body, his neck aching and tired from holding it up. He placed his hands under his chin, supporting its weight as he headed towards the front door.
"Don't forget your diary, sweetie."
By the time he got to his desk at school, the other children were all wearing masks. Some giggling, others menacing and frowning in his direction. Some had bright, pink feathers in their hair, one boy had a forked tail. The teacher rode in as usual on her miniature horse, dismounted, and began drawing on the chalkboard with one of her claws. School only lasted five minutes that day. He used the rest of the day to write in his diary. He wrote about the things he saw and heard. His mother told him that whatever happened to him, he needed to write it down in his diary and show her at the end of the day. She called him her little experiment. But each time he tried to write, the words once written began to sit up and walk around the page. They hopped onto his chewed-up pencil and made his hand begin to scribble, the new words mashing together and looking wobbly as the old words hooted with laughter.
His head still felt heavy as he rode the bus home.
His mother greeted him at the door with a milkshake.
"Have we had a fun day?" she asked.
"I'm tired, Mom."
"I know sweetie, just drink your milkshake and go take a nap in your room. Did you do any writing?"
He handed her the book in exchange for the milkshake. It tasted like the cereal milk, like crystals and snow. He drank it as fast as he could, eager for sleep, and followed his mother upstairs. As his concrete head hit the cloudy pillow, he could hear his mother close her door. Her laughter, was punctuated by the clicking of the typewriter keys. He hoped he had taken good notes for her today. Maybe then they both could get some sleep.