59. Toby


Toby’s problem is that he is extremely polite. He always eats what he’s given, and never complains, though this is primarily because he has no stomach and no tongue. He is seen but not heard – as a good child ought to be – unless you count the clacking of his metatarsals on the tile floor of his home. But who would have the heart to hold that against him, the little dear?

He tries to talk sometimes, by clicking his teeth together. The adults take photographs on their phones. He can walk now, un-aided, and they take videos of this feat as well. They pack him tiny lunches to take to school, but he does not eat them because he is a tiny skeleton, and there is no point in eating when his parents are not around to see.

He was stillborn. That’s what the doctors said, but his parents wouldn’t believe them. And Toby, the perfect darling, just didn’t have the heart to disappoint them. Now he hasn’t got a heart at all. There was an ugly period in the first year while the flesh went away, but that’s all behind them now. Now he’s just a precocious little bundle of joy, joy and bones, toddling along and clicking his teeth and wondering if the bones will ever grow longer.

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