The monstrosity that was the fetus, was finally ‘torn,’ via the surgeon’s knife from the mother’s belly, more than 2 weeks after its ‘scheduled’ appearance upon our stage.

Its grotesqueness brought horrified gasps from all those attending the delivery.

The misshapen head, humped back and deformed lower limbs elicited thoughts that he would do the decent thing and expire before his very young mother emerged from the anesthetic. No such fortune awaited this unprepared woman. Apparently, though, his lungs had not suffered the same fate as most of the rest of his body. He had let out an ‘ear-splitting’ cry to herald his entry into a world that experience tells, will be for him a story of travail.

However, the most incongruous aspect of this baby’s anatomy was the infant’s hands and arms. They were not only perfect but as they started to move they mesmerized any watcher. Only minutes into the world and they moved with a rhythm and sinuousness, that was captivating to the watchers. The attendees and other hospital staff passing by and wondering about the motionless medical staff looked and became entranced themselves.

Suddenly, the surgeon broke the spell by self-consciously coughing and exclaiming that he had better get to stitching this ‘poor woman’ up in case she had some more like this one in there, wanting to get out.

Gentle sighs, and other noises issued from all there as they bustled to do the things that are done with a birth event; further breaking the spell.


Each nurse was confounded as to how to present this joke of procreation to the mother. How would she receive this creature? Would it survive for long in her care? Would she reject her son ‘on-sight,’ after having witnessed his deformities? They just didn’t know, but they needn’t have worried.


The mother, finally stitched and awake was ready to receive her child. She was too caught up in the thrall of the childbirth and its expectation of outcome to catch the uncomfortable body language of her nurses. She held out her arms to receive this new addition to her life.


As the baby was placed in her arms, the infant appeared to deliberately reach and put its hands to each side of his mother’s face. For an indefinable time, the hands, and the face were held in a motionless tableau. Tears rolled down and dripped off off the mother’s chin to the bed-sheet, from the temporarily ravaged, but smiling face of the mother. The bonding had occurred and was complete.


It was as though the mother was blind to the twisted shape of her son. Her communication was with his beautiful hands though, hands that seemed to understand her, and was able to indicate its own wants and needs.


The mother and child were able to exist on an allowance from a government that enabled her to look after this ‘damaged’ individual, rather than the servants of the state.


They had no need for luxuries or even television. Her child’s hands provided her with all she needed by way of distraction.


By the time 2 years had passed, mother and child had established a simple life for themselves. It was a loving relationship for them both.

The child’s hands somehow managed to indicate that it loved to be in the park that was nearby to their home. Consequently, spending many hours just walking around its vast territory. It was on their journey home one day when passing a ‘charity shop’ which displayed a small electronic organ for only fifty dollars when the ‘hand’s’ signaled for the mother to stop.

Instinctively, the mother reached down and lifted her son so that he was near the organ’s keyboard. The child’s hands reached out and touched a series of keys producing what could be construed as the start of a melody. Whether some vestige of a past life had been triggered by the sight of a keyboard, was never looked into or discovered.


The mother, without pause, took her son into the store and told the attendant she wished to purchase the instrument.

The storekeeper's first impulse was one of revulsion at the sight of this grotesque being in the mother’s arms, but catching sight of the sinuously moving hands and arms, was captivated and completed the transaction with an assurance a delivery would occur that very day.


The mother was not blind to the physical defects of her child, they just didn’t overwhelm the emotional rapport she had with him. Although this child introduced himself into the world with a healthy roar, since that time, he had remained ostensibly mute. During sleep sometimes, he would make little noises but were more lulling to her than indicating any signs of distress.


On her way home that day, she called into a cabinet maker’s workshop to find an elderly man engaged in making a beautiful inlaid cabinet. She could see that he was meticulous in the way he worked and arranged with him to make a special supportive chair for her son to be able to sit at the organ. He was intrigued by the project and after many adjustments made a magnificent adjustable chair that was perfect for the boy’s requirements. The child’s hands had somehow indicated its needs in a way that the master tradesman was able to duplicate the intention.

Furthermore, he built the chair without any cost to the mother, having felt rewarded enough just by the unique experience coming from this extraordinary being.


The child’s hands and the organ keyboard became as one. The mother was exposed to all manner of musical genres and all were melodious and enchanting for her.

The boy’s skills developed with such rapidity, that inevitably word got around of this malformed creature’s accomplishment, and entrepreneurs were tapping on the mother’s door.

There was no reluctance of the child to perform for strangers, and at the age of four and one-half years, a special concert was arranged to be attended by a specialized audience, and what an audience. The entrepreneur had promoted the child’s skills so well that experts in the field of the performing arts, packed the chosen venue.


Never had anyone experienced such a  performance! The first indications of what the audience was hearing was not just music, but music as it had never been played before.

This small seemingly broken, and twisted child wove a spell that day that mesmerized this gathering of musical aficionados and left them stunned and almost ruined. How could someone else measure up to what this ‘misfit’ was doing, and apparently, effortlessly? To rub salt into that wound, this was done at the age of four and a half years?


Inexplicably, although the absolutely finest recording apparatus was used to record that performance, subsequent listening to the recording was experienced merely as good. Of course, exceptionally superb playing for a child so young, but the magic was missing. Music critics not at the actual concert, were in mystery, wondering what all the fuss was about. It was construed to be the usual hyperbole of the PR people. No recordings in the child’s lifetime ever captured the essence of the live performance, no matter how proficient this child wonder improved during the subsequent years.


By the time the child was eight years of age, he and his mother had toured the world many times. The child played to audiences that had come to know that only their personal presence would deliver the staggering experience that very often changed the listener’s lives.


The years passed, and generally the ‘public’ moved on, looking for other oddities to embrace and enthuse over. The child now able to span the finest full-sized keyboards the world had to offer, was still without reservation revered by the musical community. The anomaly of the discrepancy between the recording experience and the actual performance was never resolved. The original entrepreneur knew that he was missing out on countless millions of dollars, pounds, euro’s, et cetera if only the experience had transferred in its entirety to vinyl or some digital form. However, he was personally transformed by his association with mother and child, that he donated most of his wealth, whilst still living, to very worthwhile causes, anyway.


It was the fateful night of the boy’s fifteenth birthday, during which he was giving a concert in the ‘music capital’ of the world when the tragedy was unleashed upon that music world.

Halfway through the concert, an agonized scream echoed throughout this perfect acoustical chamber, when a knife-wielding man rushed onto the stage eluding the ‘protecting’ staff and mother and proceeded to slash at the boy’s hands as they now rested upon the piano.

A few slashes were all that it took to sever tendons and flesh, rendering the boy’s hands incapable of now bringing magic to so many. The slashing man now hung his body limply, and with one final slash, severed his own throat that no surgeon would ever be able to rectify, even if given enough time.


The world mourned this twisted wrecked specimen of humanity. The music fraternity begged the medical establishment to deliver up their very best people to reverse this iniquity. And in time they did reverse it.


The latest technology was used to ‘sew’ the tendons together again. The flesh was healed.

The reports of the success of the many operations were beamed out to the world at large, and hopes of a resumption of his playing were greeted with satisfaction.

Amid much fanfare, his home city provided a cavalcade to escort him and his mother home and then left him to renew his life, such as it was, and wait for his next performance.


Her son indicated to her that he wanted to go to his piano so she lifted him onto his special chair and waited for him to play.

Although his hands had been restored to their former dexterity, the playing was listless when compared to his previous performances. He was now using force, whereas before it effortlessly flowed, seemingly as if it was a celebration of control and love of movement.


He signaled to his mother that he wished to retire and she took him to his bed and made him comfortable. She went to bed herself and slept so soundly that nothing disturbed her during that night.


It was the next morning when she went to attend to her son, that she was confronted by a terrible sight. There was her darling son, with two withered twisted hands and arms that had locked themselves tightly around his own neck, strangling the life from his deformed body and now to join the rest of the carcass in its grotesqueness.

The mother comprehended the scene instantly and didn’t hesitate. She took a sharp knife from her knife-rack, and without haste, made a firm strong cut to her own neck, that she might join her son, to wherever he had departed.
























January 24, 2020 21:36

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Jubilee Forbess
22:29 May 14, 2020

Ah, what a very dramatic ending this had! It made me sad but you did do a good job conveying emotion through words so I do appreciate that.


Len Mooring
07:46 May 15, 2020

From you, praise indeed. I love stories about prodigies, they have this, usually a single ability, and I'm not sure if they always enjoy it. Of course, Jodie Foster's Fred is a different 'kettle of fish.'


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.