Typing Test


Her name was Alice or Alexandra or Antonia. Titania had a hard time keeping track of all the mortal names, except for Beadle and Blork, but those were distinctive names, and actually rather faerielike. Alice gestured expansively around the room, not seeing what was actually there. She saw paper stars hanging from the ceiling, and cards and posters on the wall, and a homey bedspread upon the mattress, but faeries had come to carpet the room with grass, to pave the walls with stone and set them with jewels, and to blow a cover of clouds to hide the horrible suspended ceiling. And the bedspread was no ordinary blanket but the boy's own dear Beastie, a flat headless creature of soft fur that loved him like a dog and tried to follow him out of the room whenever they took him away for some new test or procedure. "I don't mean the room," Titania said. "I mean everything else. This whole place. And the people, of course. Where did you find them? Look at you, for instance. Are you deliberately homely? And that Dr. Blork hideous!" Alice cocked her head. She did not hear exactly what Titania was saying. Everything was filtered through the same normalizing glamour that hid the light in Titania's face, that gave her splendid gown the appearance of a tracksuit, that had made the boy appear clothed when they brought him in, when in fact he had been as naked as the day he was born. The same spell made it appear that he had a name, though his parents had only ever called him Boy, never having learned his mortal name, because he was the only boy under the hill. The same spell sustained the impression that Titania worked as a hairdresser, and that Oberon owned an organic orchard, and that their names were Trudy and Bob. "You need to take care of yourself," Alice said, thinking that Titania was complaining about feeling ugly. "It might feel a little selfish, but you can't take care of him if you can't take care of yourself. Did you know we have a manicurist who comes every Wednesday?" "You are so sweet," Titania said, "even if you are homely. Did you ever wish you had the eyes of a cat?" "A hat? You can buy one downstairs. For when his hair falls out, you mean? That's weeks away, you know. But the baseball caps are awfully cute. But, listen, not everybody wants to talk about this at first, and not everybody has to. I'm getting ahead of myself . . . of ourselves." "Or would you rather be a cat entirely? Yes, I think that would make you lovely." Titania raised her hands and closed her eyes, seeking words sufficient to the spell she had in mind. They came to her in an image, words printed on a little girl's purse she had glimpsed in the waiting room outside the surgical suites downstairs. She started to speak them Hello Kitty! but Oberon walked in before she had the first syllable out. "She's the social worker. And we were only talking." Alice's head was turned to the side, and she was staring at Titania with a mixture of curiosity and devotion. The glamour had slipped as Titania was about to strike, and the woman had seen her true face. "Her name is Alice." "Stop playing," Oberon said. "He's almost finished. Don't you want to be there when he wakes?" The boy was downstairs having things done to him: a needle in his hip to take the marrow from his bones, and another in his neck to give him a special I.V. that would last through the weeks and months of the treatment. "You'll tell him I'm waiting here with his Beastie." She lifted it into her lap, as if to show him the truth of what she was saying. Alice, still standing between them, was looking back and forth, catching glimpses of their majesty as their mounting anger caused them to let it slip, and getting drunker on them. At first he had been like her own sort of Beastie, a creature who followed her around and was pleasant to cuddle with. It didn't take long before he stopped his agitated