Danny by Donna J. W. Munro


Danny’s in the attic dreaming all day.

I think about him as I work shifting one rich person’s money into another rich person’s pocket.

What will he say about his work when I get home?

Danny was normal when he was born, mostly.

He had a caul the doctors cut him free of. Mother often talks about it when we’re sitting in the living room sipping our wine.

“He was beautiful when they pulled him out. Tousled brown brush of hair and such smooth skin. Like a doll he was. Remember?”

I was only three when Danny was born, but I nod, letting her get lost in her memories.

“Except his poor eyes.”

I nod. His poor eyes.

Trading ended and I typed the last row of zeroes next to numbers too big to think about. I sliced the pie of pretend money and handed out the pieces to the greediest among us. How Danny laughed when I told him about the scramble for internet money.

All the way home, I think of ways to tell him about my day so it seems consequential. Like my life is as important as his. He never tries to make me feel small. He listens, laughs, and asks questions all the while flicking his fingers and forming the glowing shapes that make up new worlds in other places.

He humors me in the sweetest ways, though he’d never call it that.

Someone’s got to pay the bills though.

When I pull-up, I take a breath and glance up at the red glow emanating from his attic window. The brightness creeps through the double set of black out drapes I hung there.

I worry the neighbors will think the attic is on fire.

It sort of is.

I hurry inside and find mother rocking in the living room, singing a lullaby I remember from when I was young. She’s holding a pillow to her breast and smiling down at it with the bright eyes of a young mother.

Mother’s just about eighty now.

She hasn’t held a baby in over fifty years.

Danny’s gifts amaze me every day.

I check the sink for dishes. I sigh with relief at the pile. She ate something. Good.

Sometimes Danny doesn’t understand Mother’s bodily needs.

I shake her. “Mother, have you used the toilet?”

She swims up from the dream and sees me. “Oh, Lottie. I have. Thank you for checking. I’m having the sweetest dream.”

Tucking her blanket around her knees, I let her slip back into the dream Danny wove for her. I understood the dream was like a hug from a normal child. A Danny hug.

I threw together dinner in the oven –a shepherd’s pie for Mother and I and a bag of intravenous fluids for Danny from the special refrigerator we kept for his meds and nourishment. I carried his dinner up on a try along with a syringe of vitamins and the cocktail of meds Danny’s doctor insisted he needed.

The way I saw it, maybe he didn’t even need the food.

“Danny?” I knocked on his door.

Nothing. He never answered when he was away.

Twisting the knob and pushing open the door felt like moving under water or breaking a vacuum. The pressure shoved against me, as it always did. A rejection of my humanity, I expect. But in the end, I managed to pop the bubble and swim up the steps. The light is blinding at the top step. Red as bright as a summertime rose but blasting loud through the gloom of the attic.

As I stepped over the last riser, the flare of ruby light solidified into what might have been a city, though no city on earth had ever looked like it. Spikes of jeweled towers that spiraled up in a misty sky with lines that spun around the tips and shot with bright flashes.

Danny wouldn’t want to talk until he was done creating.

I changed his fluids and shot the meds into the aperture.

We couldn’t have any nurse come do it. Not with Danny the way he was.

He didn’t stop the symphonic movements of his hands and fingers, the conducting of light and life, as I changed the diaper he wore. Such things were beneath his notice. Then I moved to sit on the chair in front of him, in the far corner, watching him work his wonders.

The tear in the space between him and me smelled of some lovely flower, close to honeysuckle but not quite as sweet. Foreign. Exotic. And inside of Danny’s creation, I say fields of fiery crops that flooded the ground around the tall tree shaped structures he built from light. Inside the structures, tiny beings moved like blood cells in arteries, from one structure to the next, too small for me to understand their doings. Too fast for me to see more than a streaking flash of light as it moved.

And then he clapped his hands together and it was gone.

“Vorgona,” he named it, then turned his eye pits in my direction.

I wonder how pretty his eyes would have been if his powers hadn’t boiled them into dry sockets at birth. But he was forever young, our Danny. Cowlick in the front of thick hair I kept trimmed and jovial boy cheeks I kissed when he was done making.

“Would you like a story, Danny?”

He shook his head. “Sleepy. Just sing, Sissy.”

Poor baby. Poor little god.

So many hymns didn’t fit what he was. I often just sang pieces.

“How great thou art… how great thou art,” I sang over and over until he nodded, little chin resting on his chest. He never laid down, but sometimes he floated.

I got up to tiptoe away and halfway down the stairs, he whispered something that soothed my heart.

“I guess I’ll let you live another day, Sissy.”

“Thank you, Danny,” I said and pulled the attic door closed.


Donna J. W. Munro’s pieces are published in Nothing’s Sacred Magazine IV and V, Corvid Queen, Hazard Yet Forward (2012), Enter the Apocalypse (2017), Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths II (2018), Terror Politico (2019), It Calls from the Forest (2020), Gray Sisters Vol 1 (2020), Borderlands Vol 7 (2020), Pseudopod 752 (2021), and others. Check out her first novel, Revelations: Poppet Cycle Book 1. Contact her at https://www.donnajwmunro.com or @DonnaJWMunro on Twitter.

Published 8/12/21


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