Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Bit by Bit, a short story by Pauline Brown

I hate pyjamas because they eat you. No really, they do. While you’re alive. Jake’s pyjamas started eating him last year. Tiny bit by teeny bite.

At first I didn’t know it was the pyjamas. I thought Jake was just pretending – even acting like he couldn’t play football anymore, just so’s he could get off going to school. That was till Dad sat me down one day and started going on about the bad things that sometimes happen, and about love and keeping brave and stuff.

I asked Aunty Helen to be straight with me.

“It’s as if something horrid is eating Jake up,” she said. And even though she never said it was his pyjamas, I began to see they must be what she meant. Underneath I knew they were gnawing away at him, sucking the juice out from under his skin, leaving it all tight and grubby-white like the tops of Dad’s drums. I thought if we all stayed very still, we might just hear them nibbling and slurping away, but I could never get anyone to stay quiet for long enough.

“Take your pyjamas off, Jake,” I told him. “They’re eating you up.”

“Don’t be stupid, Stupid,” Jake said, and went back to Minecraft world.

“I don’t want to wear pyjamas any more. Please tell Dad to get me a nightie like Cassie’s instead.”

“Silly Billy,” Aunty Helen said. “You’re a boy. Pyjamas are what all boys wear in bed.”

Boys like Jake, I thought.

It was when Jake got moved to the yellow house with rainbows on the ceilings that I knew for deffo I was right. The place was full of kids whose pyjamas were eating them too. Even the kids that wore plain ones with no monsters or insects on them. Even the ones that pushed trolleys around with plastic bottles and tubes to pump the goo back into their skin.


I think Dad is a bit sad that I’ve stopped wanting his bedtime stories, and that I always say I can turn my light out for myself. But, you see, he mustn’t know how I’ve cut my pyjamas into shreds, or how every night I eat another bit of them. Tiny bit, by teeny bite.

First prize in third quarter’s competition 2014

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