Elizabeth France is a second-year student at UWA completing a Bachelor of Arts in English and Literary Studies, inspired by written work and its ability to connect both to people and within groups of like-minded readers.

The little boy couldn’t comprehend what was so wrong with him. He was too young to understand that there was nothing wrong with him at all, only his similarity to his father. His mother didn’t have the strength to look at her little boy, and even less to fake pride at the sight of him.

He was unloved, but he didn’t have the slightest clue why.

His father had passed two months earlier. He was a young man, successful in all aspects of life: dream job, dream house, dream family. He adored his wife, almost as much as he adored his son. Their child had his mother’s tanned skin, but it was the father’s hair, the father’s eyes, and the father’s smile. Their little boy was perfect—he was the embodiment of their love for one another.

It was not the father’s time to go, but a business trip to the Eastern states, a walk in the city at night, and an angry drunk cut short a life that should have been long and fulfilling.

The boy’s mother received a phone call from her husband’s colleague the following morning, explaining that he hadn’t made it to the meeting. Instead, he was lying on the winter-licked concrete: cold, bloody, gone.

It was a dark day for the mother. It was too trying to dance around the subject, brushing off her son’s relentless questions and demands for his father, so she told him he was gone and was never coming back.

All the life inside her, all the love and affection, dissipated after that phone call. She no longer sang melodies as she floated down the hall. She didn’t laugh, and she didn’t smile. Her days were dark. She couldn’t eat, and she couldn’t look at her son, who bore such a resemblance to the man she lost.

The little boy stood in his room, looking at his reflection. Was it his hair? It hadn’t been cut in a while. Or the dark freckle on his left cheek? That didn’t seem right. She liked his large freckle. She used to trace it with her finger while he slept in her arms. There had to be something wrong with him, something that made his mother stop looking at him. Something that made her keep the furthest possible distance from her sweet little boy.

He was determined to try everything in his power to get his mother to love him again.

Searching his box of dress-ups, he felt the adrenaline coursing through his body. He knew how to revive the love from his mother.

He didn’t mind that she was sad all the time. He didn’t mind that she had forgotten to pick him up from school multiple times or had forgotten to take him altogether. He didn’t mind that she hadn’t packed his lunchbox on several occasions, leaving him hungry and envying his friends. But her inability to look at him was something he very much minded. He was going to make it better.

At the bottom of the dress-up box was the very thing he had been searching for: his Spider-Man mask. He had the whole costume, but the mask was all he needed.

He pulled the fabric over his face and ran to the mirror. For the first time since his father died, he liked looking at himself. He smiled, but you wouldn’t have known. His face was completely covered. It was perfect.

As he walked through the hallway to find his mother, his heart swelled with a sense of pride—the kind of pride he didn’t excite within anyone else.

She was sitting at the dining table, a cup of coffee between her hands. Had the boy been older, he might have guessed there was an extra ingredient in that cup of coffee. There was no expression on her face. She stared into the distance, unaware that her little boy was walking up to her until he placed a gentle hand on her arm, the palm no bigger than a daffodil. He stood up straight, as tall as he could be, which was not very tall at all.


“What?” she asked, disinterested.

She did not look at him.

He shook her arm.

Mummy. Look.”

“Stop that.”

“Look, Mummy.”

“Go away.”

Her words stung. The little boy ran away from his mother—the mother who was supposed to love him unconditionally. Two wet patches formed on his mask, as he jumped into bed and climbed under the covers. He didn’t feel like much of a hero. Sobbing in the darkness, slowly coming to realize that he lost both parents on the very same day.

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