This is a Tomorrowlands universe story; they are listed at http://www.tomorrowlands.org/story/stories.html.
© 2001, Tad "Baxil" Ramspott
BIRTHDAY PRESENT Precision Short Story By Baxil July 22, 2001 "It's just a phase," he says weakly. "We shouldn't encourage the boy," she pleads. He holds up the mask. "Last month, Will ran around the yard, arms stretched out -- a flying eagle. On Thanksgiving, he scraped his knee galloping around on all fours. A horse, or a unicorn." He reaches to brush the stiff plastic whiskers, run his fingers through dyed fabric fur. "Next week he'll be a dragon. Let's just humor him." "Dear, I'm not so sure. The Hartfelds, down the street," she lowers her voice, "I think they're, you know," she whispers, "cats." "Honey, we shouldn't judge." "Will's spent most of the last month with their Clay. That's what this is. I don't want to stunt the boy's imagination, but he needs to understand, you know, what he really is. Human. Like us." He massages the bridge of his nose. "It'll pass." Neither of them is quite prepared for Thursday morning. She's halfway up the stairs when William's door rattles and bursts open. A scruffy tiger cub, cartoonishly striped, rolls into the hallway, landing on its back, staring up at her through wide eyes. It squeaks, high-pitched; she could swear she hears, "Thanks, Mom! You're the best parents ever!" He comes upstairs, but can't find anything to say, either. They call the school, explain Will is sick, and let their son out into the backyard. He throws the still gift-wrapped mask away. The two sit numbly around the kitchen table. "It's just a phase," she says weakly.
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