The boy is obsessed with origami, his mother tells her friends. He sits at the kitchen table for hours at a time, folding and pressing and creasing and fitting. Microscopic tucks and pleats – tiny paper cranes and unfolding fireworks and collapsible stars and stiff miniature bunnies and boxy turtles with red paper shells. Hundreds of folds and filmy squares of paper moving into new shapes and ways of being. He sits stiff like he is made of squares of paper himself, chewing on his bottom lip and whispering to his long, slender fingers as they dance and leap and persuade the paper to become things it never thought it could be.
What's worse, the boy's mother says, is that he keeps everything he makes. At first, he stacked his creations on his desk, until the piles grew so big that they toppled over. So he started to fill the white carpeted floor of his bedroom. He heaped them by his bed and his bookshelf, in color coordinated piles of blue origami roses that could be coaxed into smooth boxes, or unfolding yellow fireworks that, when turned inside out, exploded into purple pansies. His piles are well-organized and stacked with precision – he is a very neat child, after all – but his room is only so big. Eventually, the piles of cranes and squares and ninja stars will envelop the boy like a tsunami wave. The ones on the bottom will be crumpled from the weight of the ones on top and become yellowed with age. The cream colored cranes will mix with the magenta exploding fireworks, crushing the delicate collapsing tulips. And the boy will be trapped inside the tornado of the colors and shapes he has tamed until they no longer listen to his nimble fingers and crush him instead. And the transparent sheets of paper will become as heavy as boulders, and they will begin to suffocate him, first his skinny feet, then his knobbly knees, then his lips with the delicious indention in the middle, and soon all of him will disappear, until only his saucer eyes with the curtain of eyelashes that hang low as he works are left. And what will she do then, the mother thinks to herself after her friends leave. How will she save him then?
She supposes that she will do what she has to do. She will claw through the sea of paper cuts and crevices and colors, shouting and stomping on red dragons with tiny folds in the tails and collapsible houses with brown paper roofs. And then she will find him, her tiny, shy, beautiful boy, crumpled like his sheets of paper in the corner of the room by his desk, gasping for breath. She will scoop him up in her arms, feeling his fragile ribs moving up and down underneath her strong fingers. And as she carries him out, she will whisper "I'm here, I'm here, I'm here" like a battle cry.