by yt sumner
I’m getting bigger.
Andrew wags his tail and it thumps on the floor. Andrew’s big too, he’s an Irish wolfhound and that’s the biggest dog in the world. I know I’m bigger because my yellow dress is tight and it was baggy when I first got it. That was when Mum was watching the TV a lot and always frowning. She’d say shoo, when I tried to look over her shoulder and see the fires and the bad men.
Mum said not to worry and not to watch the TV. But just before she went to get help, the TV and the lights went out for good. It’s not that bad though. The red sky hurts my eyes a bit in the day, but it’s real pretty at night. Like a nightlight’s always on.
Mum’s been gone to get help for a long time. I don’t know how long but I find an advent calendar to count the days. It’s one that shows Christmas in the snow, like it was in England. I stop counting the days after I eat baby Jesus.
I sleep a lot.
I’m T-Rex. I’m a lizard king. I start in an egg. I grow a tail. My teeth get huge. I scratch out and I hatch. The sky isn’t red and howling. It crackles like the sea. A bath big enough for me to swim in. I get hungry so I start to eat. I get bigger. I munch on little dinosaurs that munch on leaves. My tiny claws pick their bones out of my teeth.
I wake up a bit upset because I don’t even eat meat and hide my tears in my pillowcase. But then I remember Mum isn’t here anymore so I get up and brush my teeth. I keep scrubbing until the taste of baby dino is gone then I go out to the porch to check on the speck.
Mum said to watch for the speck. Watch carefully and make sure it’s help before I run out and wave them in. She told me about the bad men and how they were hungry and I said I could just give them some cans and she reached up and held my chin and said if the bad men came, they wouldn’t want cans. I had to run the other way. Into the black trees and ugly bushes.
At first I was excited about all the cans in the basement. I stacked them up against the wall in the kitchen as high as I could. There’s lots of spaghetti. Most days I walk around the house eating spaghetti worms out of the can then I watch the horizon. I watch for the speck of dust that is going to grow like a thundercloud between the black peach tree and the well. Mum said not to go near that either. That I might fall in.
One night it rains. I love the sound it makes on the cracked tin roof. But I love it more on my skin. Boom. Thud. Smash. I run outside and Andrew is barking next to me. The sky is the darkest red and I run under it. I dance around on the black dirt and I yell that I’m a big girl. The biggest in the world. Andrew is barking and he starts to howl and growl he runs near the well and I run after him and put my hand out to grab his wet fur but he snaps at me. I say don’t be scared Andrew but he runs for the gate. He runs and he doesn’t look back. Something in the rain sounds like it’s screaming and I run inside and hide under my bed the best I can fit.
Andrew doesn’t come back.
Things were sort of okay with Andrew still here, even without Mum. I didn’t like being told by other kids that Andrew wasn’t a good name for a dog. I don’t remember anything else about school and I wipe my eyes and eat some spaghetti. I don’t know why I stopped going to school. Maybe I got too big.
I wait for Mum to come back. Or Andrew. I don’t like spaghetti as much as I used to. But I still eat it, and it’s nice to paint the empty cans when it rains. I don’t like the rain as much either.
One night I dream there are angels at the window. They spread their wings and tell me a story.
You were born on a night where the moon was full and pink, just like fairy floss, in a room where silver sparkles tickled the clouds, trapeze angels flew and danced in celebration, and when you came out you didn’t cry, you just smiled, and you said hello. You were the biggest star of the show.
I wake up and smile. If the Circus came and found me they would be so proud of how big I’d got. Then we could go and find Mum. It starts to rain and I cry a bit because somewhere out there Andrew is scared too. I get up and paint some cans with the colour of his fur. I paint one with his big black nose.
In the morning I find a lizard on the porch.
He’s baking in the sun, a little sizzly steam coming off his back and I pick him up to say hello and he breaks. Right in two. I hold his squiggly tail as he slithers off. I feel a bit sad. That he would rather break than sit in my big hand. Also that my dress tears in a couple of places when I bend down to pick him up. But mostly because he breaks. I take the tail inside and I put it inside one of my Andrew cans. He already had four legs and big floppy can ears. When I stick the tail on the end it wiggles and wags and he looks pretty happy.
Now I’m glad the lizard broke.
The Andrew cans start sleeping in my room, he comes for walks on the porch while I watch for the speck. But last night I forgot to bring him in with me.
The Circus is coming. They sing songs and do cartwheels. The Alligator Man snaps his teeth. The Fat Lady sings. They throw spaghetti worms into the air, and I look down and see that they’re really lots of tiny lizards, and they all have Andrew’s head.
I wake up and my hair was sweaty and it’s the morning. My legs don’t hurt. But they’re so long. I get up and hit my head as I walk out of my bedroom. I think maybe the house shrunk a bit when I was asleep. I grab a new can and go out to the porch and sit on the steps next to Andrew. He’s watching the horizon and something’s different. My eyes feel funny. I open my can and see they’re pears.
I look at the pear tree.
And see it.
I step off the porch and my toes get dusty. I run to the gate, right by the well and the speck gets bigger. Maybe it’s Mum, I think. But it starts to make a sound.
The Circus is coming!
I yell at Andrew Cans and he wags his tail so hard it flies off.
I clap my hands and wave them in but then a sound comes from the well.
I lean over the edge and look into the black.
Mum? What are you doing down there?
I put my ear right over the hole but Mum doesn’t say anything else.
It’s okay, Mum, the speck is nearly here. The Circus is coming to help us.
I walk back to the gate and wave my arms up high. But as it gets closer, Andrew Cans comes closer and whines a bit, he clatters as he shakes.
I say as I smooth my tight yellow dress, bursting at the seams.
I’m going to be the star of the show.
yt sumner likes words and people that write them. People that listen to them. People that read them. Eavesdroppers. Stutterers. Silvertongues. She was born in the UK, raised all over Australia and settled happily in Melbourne. Her short stories have appeared in various literary journals, anthologies and magazines and she’s currently coaxing a motley group of them into a collection.