Little Boy had lived with the attendants for as long as he remembered.
He lived in the Big House, with stone walls and nice carpets. Fancy fabrics hung from the walls, and pretty windows with colorful glass were set in pretty metal frames. The attendants were goats who could walk on two legs. They would clean the house, make dinner, and they would never tell him what to do. He could do whatever he wanted, and no one would complain. Little Boy liked that. He liked being able to jump on the furniture and shout and play without no one telling him not to do that.
There was another thing that no one would tell him not to do. He would jump out of bed at night and see the Tall Mirror in the east hallway. It was so tall, it reached through the ceiling and up to the Heavens. Little Boy was sure that it was tall enough that if he looked hard enough, he could see the reflection of God. Little Boy would take a candle with him and look into it. When the clock struck midnight, Mama and Papa would come out of the mirror and play with him until morning came. Mama and Papa had moved into the mirror a long, long time ago, at a time Little Boy couldn’t remember right. But he knew that the people in the mirror were Mama and Papa, because his heart told him so. And Mama and Papa loved him.
Little Boy didn’t know how old he was. He was tiny and had short legs, like young people, but he had stopped counting the years he’d been here a long, long time ago, so he didn’t know for sure. He wasn’t even sure how many years he had counted before he stopped. Sometimes, Little Boy would become lonely, even though the Goat Maids were all there for him, and Mama and Papa played with him from the mirror. Little Boy would ask, what’s a year, anyway? And Mama and Papa would say, a year is a lot of days. Little Boy wondered why Mama and Papa were vague. But he loved Mama and Papa, so he didn’t say anything about it.
Little Boy was a good, polite boy. He would say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ whenever he asked for something, and he would say ‘you’re welcome’ when someone thanked him back. Little Boy wondered if other people were as polite as he was. He had read books about people, but he hadn’t ever seen one. Little Boy had never gone out of the Big House. Little Boy didn’t even know what snow was like. He could only watch it pile up on the windows… The Goat Maids didn’t know, either, because when he would ask they would say so. The Goat Maids didn’t know much beyond cleaning and cooking, anyway. Oh, and playing. The Goat Maids could play good, too.
People were fascinating. Little Boy wanted to know more about what people were like. He wanted to meet people. But the one thing he couldn’t do was go to Outside. Everyone in the Big House said, you are too good for Outside. Outside is bad and mean. We don’t know what’s in Outside. You shouldn’t go to Outside.
But Little Boy wanted to see Outside, even though he was scared of it. Outside was big and grand and looked really fun to play in. Even if Outside was mean, he could come back to Big House, right? Big House was safe and warm and the bad things wouldn’t go into Big House, because Big House was too good for them. So Little Boy came down to the Tall Mirror at midnight and asked, can I go to Outside with you? He thought that Mama and Papa could protect him from the bad things. Mama and Papa said okay! But they also said to wait for when they called for him.
So Little Boy waited. Little Boy waited and waited and waited. He waited in front of the Tall Mirror until 11:59 the next night, and then he heard, come here, son! And he ran to the front door with his candle in hand to see the door had swung right open! And Mama and Papa were outside in the snow, waiting for him. And he ran outside to meet them, and realized that snow is really really cold.
He dropped the candle, with his fingers gone all cold and numb. It went out when it hit the snow instead of burning it. Little Boy could only stand in the snow, shivering. It was cold. So cold.
Mama and Papa hugged him, and Little Boy was warm again… They asked him, are you sure you still want to see Outside? We don’t know what’s in Outside, and Outside is cold and cruel… And Little Boy hesitated, because the snow was cold and blew out his candle, and he liked his candle. But Little Boy said yes, because I’m already in Outside, and you are here and will keep me safe. So Mama and Papa grabbed his hands and lead him away into the woods.
Big House, Tall Mirror, the Goat Maids, and even the candle all disappeared. Little Boy went with Mama and Papa to someplace called Outside. But after a little bit, it didn’t look like Outside anymore. It was all white now, and he and Mama and Papa were in a nice place. There were people there, too. The people seemed familiar to Little Boy, but he didn’t know from where or when. The people loved him, like Mama and Papa did. And Little Boy loved them, too, and now he remembered why. Memories of people from a time long past came back to him.
Little Boy had lived alone for as long as he remembered.