I hate cancer stories. There are too many of them and it is too easy to make them overly sentimental and melodramatic. But this one is different. This one is so highly original (in a Shakespeare-derivative way) that it overcomes all of my objections. I think this is one terrific story. Brad, son of Trudy and Bob, is suffering from leukemia. I mean, “Boy,” the changeling of Tatania and Oberon, is suffering from leukemia. They do everything that real parents do, including smuggling in food that the boy isn’t supposed to have, bringing in familiar items from home (even if some of them are invisible to mortals like the nurses and doctors), and inviting friends to visit—mostly other faeries. At first the boy responds to treatment, but then he starts to get worse. Since he can’t keep down food, even though he begs for it, Oberon and Tatania prepare a tiny feast for him, with the help of the faeries. They chop tiny vegetables and cook tiny chickens, and bake a tiny cake.
Tatania’s magic can do nothing to save the boy, although it does manage to help other children. And when the boy eventually dies, the faeries hold a grand funeral procession through the hospital and back to the faerie home under the hill.
It’s a wonderful creation, and one of my favorites of the year so far.
April 20, 2009: “A Tiny Feast” by Chris Adrian