Typing Test


The nurses had hung up a bag of liquid food for him, honey colored liquid that went directly into his veins. Oberon slapped at the bag, and said that it didn't look very satisfying. He fed the boy a bun, and a steak, and a crumpled cream puff, pulling each piece of food from his pocket with a flourish. Titania protested, and threatened to get the nurse, and even held the call button in her hand, almost pressing it while the boy shoved steak into his mouth and Oberon laughed. The boy threw it all up in an hour, the steak looking practically unchanged, and became listless and squash colored for three days. When they were asked if the boy had eaten anything, Oberon only shrugged. But as soon as the boy recovered, he was crying again for food, pleading with them all the time, no matter how the nurses fiddled with the bag that was supposed to keep him sated. One morning, the whole team showed up: Beadle and Blork and the junior junior doctors whose names Titania could never remember and Alice and the nurse and another two or three mortals whose function, if it was something besides just skulking about, she never did discover. When Dr. Blork asked him how he was doing, he pleaded with the doctors, too. "Can't I have one tiny little feast?" he asked, and they laughed at him. They chucked his chin and tousled the place where his hair had been, and then they went out, leaving her with this dissatisfied, suffering creature. "Mama, please," he said all day, "just one little feast. I won't ask again, I promise." Oberon was silent, and left the room eventually, once again crying his useless tears, and Titania told the boy again that he would only become sick if he ate. "Don't think of eating," she said. "Think of this bird, instead." And she pulled a parrot out from the folds of her robe. But the boy asked if he could eat it. He wore her down toward evening. Oberon had still not returned, and every time she sent Radish to fetch him the pixie said, "He's still weeping. See?" And she held up a thimble brimming with tears. Titania sighed, wanting to run from the boy and his anxious, unhappy hunger, which had seemed to her, as the day dragged on, to represent, and then to become, a hunger for something besides food. He didn't want food. He wanted to be well, to run on the hill in the starlight, to ride on the paths in the park in a cart pulled by six raccoons. He wanted to spend a day not immersed in hope and hopelessness. "All right, love," she said, "just one bite." And she took out a chocolate from her bag, but before she could give it to him Oberon returned, calling for her to stop because he had something better. He cleared a space on the bed and put down a little sack, and very delicately, pinching with his thumb and his forefinger, removed all the elements of a tiny feast and laid them on the bed. "It will be faster if you help," he told her as he squinted to chop up a mote size carrot. So she picked up a bag the size of her thumb, emptied out the beans from within, and began to snap. The boy kept trying to eat things raw at first, but Oberon slapped his hand away and told him to be patient, and eventually he helped as well, twisting the heads off the little chickens when Oberon handed them to him, and laughing when they danced for a few seconds in his palm. It took a long time to prepare the feast, though they had more and more help, as more faeries popped up in the room, some of whom were better sized for the work. Still more of them gathered round in an audience, stuck to the walls, crowding the shelves, perched on the lintel, all of them muttering opinions as the preparations went on they would have baked, not seared, that fish, and salted the cabbage but not the asparagus, and chosen caramel over fudge for the cake. When it was done, the boy ate the whole thing, and did not share a morsel, which was exactly as it was supposed to be. Aside