Raising a Shape Shifter
by Tori Stubbs
Rachel hung up her jacket on the coat rack. “Dinner smells good,” she smiled.
Daniel let out an awkward laughed. “Yeah, thanks hon’. I wish Stone agreed.” His hair was sticking up in the back and his shirt was rumpled. Rachel noticed a bloody bandage on his arm and rumpled her nose. It must have been one of those days.
Rachel stuck out her bottom lip. “Stone, baby, you don’t want Daddy’s yummy soup? Mmmm look. Mommy likes it.” She took a spoonful out of Daniel’s bowl. “Let me try to feed him.”
While Daniel went to the kitchen to get her her own bowl and Rachel sat down in front of Stone, who was pouting angrily. She gave him and exaggerated smile and he began to giggle.
As soon as he saw the spoon though, his mood changed. And not only did his mood change, but he changed too. Suddenly he was a rooster, flapping his wings and flying right out of the high chair. Rachel growled to herself, but not loud enough for Stone to hear, she didn’t want to give him any ideas. “Stone!” she said in a stern voice. “Turn back into yourself right this instant!”
The rooster cocked its head and stared at her for a moment as if considering her statement. Suddenly, the rooster was no longer a rooster. A monkey stood before them. It cooed and climbed back into the high chair. He still didn’t want the soup.
“Do you think we could try a banana?” Daniel asked.
“No, Daniel you know Stone is allergic.” Rachel sighed. Rubbing her face with one hand.
“Well, we know human Stone is, but is monkey Stone allergic too?”
Rachel wrinkled her nose for a moment, considering this. “I don’t think we should chance it.”
“Maybe we should just try again later.”
Stone became himself again, a little dirty blond haired boy, just in time for his Mommy to take him out of his seat. Rachel held him on her hip and began clearing the table. Stone tried hitting the dishes out of her hands and she held them away, out of his range. He let out a screech and began changing again. She was fast though. She put him down and climbed up on top of the chair she was just sitting on. A small lion cub prowled the floor. It attacked the table leg, leaving bite marks and scratches behind, but Rachel didn’t worry about her table, she was just glad that that wasn’t her arm or leg.
Once the cub felt satisfied with the amount of damage he did to the table, he began to walk toward the doorway.
“Code yellow!” Rachel shouted to Daniel. She heard the clang of pans as Daniel climbed onto the counter.
“Hi, Stone. Come see Daddy,” Daniel said calmly.
He must be back to normal, thought Rachel.
After dinner was all cleaned up, they all sat on the couch. Stone was in the middle, with his Mommy and Daddy on either side. He felt calm and happy. He cuddled up to his Mom, and became a baby bird.
Rachel scooped the baby bird up in her palms and cuddled it up to her face. She hummed to him until he fell asleep and then she placed him into the makeshift nest in the center of his crib. Relief flooded her body as she watched Stone, so peaceful as he slept.
It’s worth it, she thought to herself.
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Tori Stubbs lives in a small town in Massachusetts. This story was written for her own little shapeshifter, Sage, who is the best son she could ever ask for. Even when he is a lion or a rooster. She has previously had work published in Daily Science Fiction and Foliate Oak (as Tori Thomas) and has multiple upcoming publications. You can find out more about her and her work at http://torisshortstories.tumblr.com .