The Human Brian Continues Evolving

by Steve Himmer

Brian woke up Tuesday morning with gills on his throat and unable to breathe in the air of the house. His mother screamed when she found him gasping in bed, and his father dropped his suitcases near the front door and carried Brian’s weak body to the bathtub where he spent the rest of the week reading comics his mother laminated for him at the dining room table. By Saturday the gill slits had sealed over, leaving the palest of scars on his neck, but when he was woken that night by his father stomping downstairs to the couch he discovered a tail had grown in their wake. His tail was stronger than it might have appeared, agile enough to turn comic book pages and to pull the things Brian needed right into his hands, but it still worried his mother so much that he overheard his parents talking about it in bed for six nights in a row. It was a useful tail, as tails go -- more useful than the gills had turned out to be -- and maybe that’s why it still stretched from the small of his back when two feathery wing tips emerged from his shoulder blades the next week. Nothing else changed for Brian once he grew wings, but his parents were so busy trying to keep track of him with their binoculars and disinfecting skinned knees after his many rough landings that they had little time left for anything else -- like packing suitcases and stomping downstairs -- and everything went back to normal.

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Steve Himmer, author of The Bay of Love, has stories appearing in the new anthology Brevity & Echo and elsewhere. You are no doubt shocked to learn he has a website.