GENRE: YA Speculative Fiction
The man in the cobalt hat and his marmoset stood against the far wall of Tristan’s room. They’d perfected stillness, but their eyes followed him after dusk.
Tristan pressed his spine against the cinder block wall and watched them back.
The man offered the marmoset an almond. Thick spectacles encircled his eyes, which were as gray as the paint that coated the room. Beneath the cobalt hat, his face fell in deep wrinkles. He stood a foot taller than Tristan, and his hat scraped the ceiling.
The marmoset dug his toes into the man’s shoulder and pressed one paw onto his cheek. Fine black fur covered the marmoset’s face and body except for white tufts that grew from its ears. Golden flecks danced in its eyes.
Tristan’s vision blurred with exhaustion, but when the marmoset reached for that almond, he was alert and tense again.
The almond remained untouched between the man’s thumb and forefinger.
He knew it was all in his head. He should have felt glad about that. Some of them didn’t even know that much, but somehow he couldn’t feel glad.
The marmoset would never take the almond, never be able to reach it. The man would never shoo the animal from his shoulder. They couldn’t get him; they were painted on.
But paint or not, they watched him. Their eyes tried to worm into his skull and read his thoughts. His thoughts weren’t a page they could take from him. They existed only between his ears.