The little boy wakes up from his bed, eyes puffy from crying in the night. There’s hay in his hair- he can feel it dangling and sticking. He reaches up to rub his eyes again, and does so, and cries out in pain without a sound, the echo of his agony clanging against the outer reaches of his empty skull.
Not Academy, they said. Never school, they said. He sticks a grimy foot in a worn slipper and yawns.
One day, he’s going to tell people he is too good for yawning. Superior body. Superior brain. Someday there’s going to be stuff in his empty head. Too much stuff to waste time crying. So much stuff, he might even forget why. Imagine, forgetting his name one day! Preposterous.
So he gets up, plonks one foot in front of the other and looks for his other slipper under the stuffy bed.
His hand quivers as he reaches for his bedding, slumping there in a pile beside the bed post. Maybe with his foot, he can...
But no. No looking. She said not to, the lady last night. The nice lady under the bed. Oh, that face will give him nightmares. He remembers as he touches his foot. He remembers that she petted him, like a proper mum would have.
So he doesn’t look for his other slipper. Instead, he smiles, and waits for the knocking that will signify the only joy he gets out of his day.
Koschei should be by soon.