I realised that I'd not written a story for a while, so here's some flash that I knocked up in my lunch-hour.
The Good Old Days
We’d only been in the house for three days when my son stopped eating breakfast.
“Eat up,” I’d say, “it’s marmalade, your favourite.”
He’d yawn and look at me with bleary eyes. “I’m too tired to eat.”
My wife said that it was the new house, the change of surroundings, the quiet country air after the bustle of the city – That he’d be fine after he’d settled. I wasn’t so sure.
He shook his head when I asked his why he couldn’t sleep, he seemed almost embarrassed. I wondered if puberty had hit him early and he was ‘keeping himself awake’ into the small hours.
Over the next weeks things got worse, we had a call from his teacher to say that he’d been behaving oddly. I immediately assumed that she was going to tell me that he’d been falling asleep – but it seemed that he was using words that you wouldn’t expect such a young child to know and that he had developed some strong opinions on subjects that he probably shouldn’t have encountered. I asked her for examples, she talked uncomfortably about things like population control.
I mulled it over for the whole afternoon until he got home and demanded a ‘sammidge’ from his mother.
Once he’d been fed, I called him over and got him to sit down on the sofa next to me. “I had a call from your teacher today.”
He stopped eating and looked up at me.
“She said that you’re very clever, you have some very adult ideas.”
“Uh-huh,” he said, looking past me for the TV remote.
“She wonders where you get them from.” I tried to sound as matter of fact as I could, not wanting him to think he was doing anything wrong.
“You know, from the guys.” He looked at me out of the corner of his eyes.
“No… in my room. They wake me up talking to each other every night – But sometimes they ask what I think. I don’t always understand what they mean. They say the world used to be different, fewer people. They call it the good old days.”
“Are they outside your window?”
“They sit on my rug.”
“Are you scared?”
“I can’t really see them clearly, they’re kinda fuzzy.”
My mother had been ‘sensitive’, she could see things that other people couldn’t. I wondered if her gift had skipped a generation. “Maybe you should ask them to leave you alone?”
He shrugged and started watching cartoons.
I awoke with a start, according to the clock on my bedside table it was 03:47. My wife’s gentle snores were the only sound, until the bedroom door slowly opened. My son’s pale face stared at me from the darkened landing and he slowly entered the room; his eyes never leaving mine. He crept along the side of the bed, quietly so as not to wake his mother, and leaned down to whisper in my ear.
“Why did he tell us to go away?”