Deborah Carson had always wanted a husband, and through sheer diligence and by over coming numerous heartbreaks, she had finally, at the age of thirty-nine, selected a suitable man named Thomas.
A poet and a scholar, he was academically her equal and his physique was everything she had imagined during the lonely nights of her teen years.
The sex was good and frequent without becoming a chore. They held dinner parties that friends and acquaintances clamoured to be invited to. The only blotch on their happy relationship was something that no matter how hard she tried, she could not ignore. In the evenings her husbands beautiful personality began to alter completely.
“He acts like a child!”
She would wail down the phone to her mother who would nod sympathetically at the other end of the line and say
“They all do darling!”
Her friends all agreed and so it was with a sinking feeling that Deborah resigned herself to the fact that her husband was not quite the man she had thought he was, but considering everyone agreed that it was a common feature of men she didn’t see what else she could do to avoid dying alone - apart from become a lesbian and that was something Deborah had never had any inclination towards.
It had all started a few months into their marriage. At night he began to make love impatiently, exuberantly and was ready to go again within minutes. This was something she learned to accept and put down to his caffeine intake before bed and allowed herself the flattery of thinking it was also a sign of his insatiable lust for her, but then one night she woke up alone in their bed in the small hours to the sound of a recorded guitar track that was definitely not from their gentle jazz and classical collection and stumbling downstairs, found Thomas on the kitchen floor, hunched over a note book, scribbling furiously and pushing his hair back from his face with impatient gestures. When she had asked what he was writing, he had covered it from her view jealously and grunted that it was private and she never understood him anyway.
Wounded, she had gone to bed and fallen into a fitful sleep. The next morning he made tea as usual and wrapped his arms around her, kissing her awake. When she questioned him about the book and its contents, he looked confused and shook his head. He had no recollection.
As the years moved on, he began to lose interest in sex at night. She would have put this down to age and exhaustion were it not for the fact that he would insist on strange tickling play fights and on the rare occasions she was able to hold her own, he became either sullen or over excited to the point of violence. She became used to waking in the night and hearing the sounds of computer games echoing up the stairs and didn’t bother to go and investigate what her husband was up to.
Shortly after his fiftieth birthday, the games consol was given to charity and the tickling matches stopped. In the evenings he would either read to himself of plead with Deborah to read to him. Inwardly Deborah sighed with relief. This was odd behaviour she could deal with.
At night she could sometimes make out the sounds of plastic action figures bashing against each other downstairs and would occasionally hear an argument between the two characters narrated in strange high-pitched whispers.
One night the whispering was closer and Deborah realised it was coming from the gap between her husbands side of the bed and the wall.
As her eyes adjusted to the darkness she could make out a bulky Godzilla action figure and some sort of plastic monkey acting out a scene on the edge of the mattress. The cord of the alarm clock was wound around Godzilla’s foot and she watched with a building irritation as slowly, inch by inch the clock was dragged forward until, with an audible thump it fell onto the floor.
“For God’s Sake Thomas!”
Tried beyond endurance Deborah sat up and slapped her hand down on the light switch. From beside the bed there was a gasp and a familiar looking little boy stood up. He was wearing her husbands pyjamas and he looked as if he were about to cry.
“I didn’t mean to wake you up darling.”
His voice was high and pure, he couldn’t possibly have been more than ten years old, and yet …
Deborah blinked in confusion and sweat prickled under her arms.
“Am I in trouble?”
The child crawled onto the bed and sat blinking at her, holding the waistband of the pyjama bottoms in one tiny fist and his Godzilla in the other.
“How … What is happening?”
Her husband shrugged his narrow shoulders and shyly offered her the toy, causing one side of his pyjama top to slide down his skinny arm.
“You wanna play? You can be the cool one.”
Deborah stared at his outstretched limb. The hair across it was so fine she could barely make it out in the lamp light.
“If you wanna play you should hurry up. We only have a little while left before …”
The child moved his hand to the top of his head and raised it as high as he could to indicate his growth.
Deborah blinked at him slowly. She was now fifty-two years old, she had let her figure go slightly. Could she find another man? Did she want to? Thomas, her Thomas not this strange hybrid child, was kind, hard working, loving … could she really throw it all away because at night time he was a little … unusual?
With a trembling hand, she took Godzilla from him.