Hannah Mettner

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The world tree

Jethro wants to sit on the Hlidskjalf and the top bunk won’t do.
He wants a tree big enough and old enough that the roots grow
right through the earth and suck at the sea on the other side.

He wants to see so far out that it’s the future he’s looking at
and he can see himself in it. He’s no more mortal than any seven-
year-old with the magic years under his belt and too vivid fears.

For him, a catalogue of monsters would make soothing bedtime
reading. Here, Hel; here, the revelatory beast, parading past
like sheep. Anything that’s the last of its kind is going to keep

its claws out. In his tiger suit, with an owl, a leopard and a hound
to share his bed, it’s not the creatures who keep him awake —
it’s what they represent. Sleep is a dangerous city, populated

with the faces of people he’s seen but never met. He wakes
with different coloured eyes, predicting the rain that comes
with breakfast. Begging a day home from school, again.

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