Perhaps, living the first twelve years of his life in a little home, in a little town, is the reason for his shrunken stature. Or maybe, his name is to blame, a manifestation of his mother’s poor choice during his premature time of birth. It feels like there’s a quota, and he never grows past what the town of Saddlewood allows. Despite all that, Little-One Knox has a sizeable nature of sorts that defies his very name.
His little nose is perfect to stick into unwelcome places, and despite the size of his ears, he can hear whispers from a mile away, if he really pays attention.
He makes up fifty percent of the residents in his home. His mother, the other fifty, is a woman with lithe fingers. They have a simple motherly feel when they run through his hair, but only when he’s done something good. Of course, Little-One has trouble doing said good things. Rather, he has a tendency to seek out the opposite. It’s the careless venturing that makes his mother pull at his hair instead of carding through it. Though even when she screeches his name, it sounds like a term of endearment.
Little seeks out excitement by crawling in dirt holes and jumping off the odd tool shack. How he manages to climb them is an irritating mystery to all. Especially Old-Man Dooley, who has an abnormal amount of little shoe dents atop his metal shack.
The route he takes home from school has the quality and charm of a small rural town. Though the sidewalks are cracked and damaged, the clover weeds that grow in between make for a pretty picture. There are lines of red maples on either side of a winding road that tower with age, and every autumn he walks home on a bed of brilliant ruby leaves. At the end of the road, just as he turns right, the tallest red maple droops over a rickety fence overlooking a farm. And on the very top, seven branches part ways and reach towards the sky, making a surprisingly comfortable spot in the middle.
Often, Little climbs all the way up, up, up, and enjoys his late lunch on a seat that nature fashioned just for him. He stays long after he finishes his food, watching little sheep roam the farm grounds, until his mother leaves work and meets him at the base of the tree. A simple call of “Little!” and he packs away his things and climbs on down. From there, they walk home together, swinging their linked hands between them, while Little gushes about his day. And his mother, knowing she’s a true confidant, listens diligently until they reach home.
“Little,” his mother whispers, shaking his shoulder gently. Little peeks out from under his blankets only to promptly shut his eyes at the sight of his mother. She’s dressed up in work clothes. “Little you gotta get up, quickly, I’m gonna be late,” she shakes him again, swiftly pulling his blanket off and towards the ground.
Grumbling, he rolls this way and that, wishing he can soak up all the warmth from his bed and bring it with him to school. A pair of cold hands reach under his arms and pull him up and off the bed too. His toes curl inwards, trying to avoid the onslaught of cold tiles that seem to leach his remaining warmth.
“Quickly, Little, I’m not joking, hurry up,” his mother pats him on the butt, shoving him towards the bathroom just outside the hall, “Brush your teeth quickly,” she pushes a tiny pill into his palm, “and take this,” Little puts it in his mouth, “Kay, you have five minutes.”