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I'm going a bit nuts trying to figure this out. It's one of those things where it's not really important, but I can't find something I sort of thought I knew and it's nagging at me.

Basically it's a short story I read relatively recently (Though it might have been in a really old anthology, since I pick those up now and then, or it could have been relatively new). If I recall correctly it was a modern fantasy story, about a little boy (Could have been a girl though) who has some kind of magical talent or power, but lives with a person (I think a woman, but could be a man) who he thinks is his parent, or aunt/uncle or... something? Anyway, this person forbids him from using his powers, and maybe is keeping his powers suppressed somehow as well. And it seems like they're pretty cruel to him.

It seems to me that it took place mostly in the house he lived in, it's possible he was kind of kept prisoner inside.

I know that's absurdly vague, but that's why it's driving me nuts.

The only marginally specific thing I remember is the ending, with him somehow breaking away from this parent figure and fleeing out the door into the yard... and then he's caught, I think, but I think it turns out that the person he's been living with isn't really his guardian, but someone who kidnapped him or something, and was planning to steal his power or... something.

I remember some external force shows up to save the day at the end, telling him that, and that they've been looking for him but he was hidden while he was in the house, or something.

I'm probably getting everything wrong or mixed up, but... can anyone help me out here?

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    Welcome to SFF Stack Exchange! You may find it interesting to read our guidance on asking story-ID questions. I hope someone here can help you find what you're looking for :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 4, 2016 at 23:50

1 Answer 1

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It sounds a little bit like Ray Bradbury's "Jack-in-the-Box", but with a different ending.

Living apart from the outside world, Edwin shares residence with his mother in a vast secluded mansion. She raises him to be god; telling him that his father, the original god, was killed by beasts from outside the estate, and that if he ever extricates himself he too will die. The beautiful estate they share is described as a complete fantasy world created by Mother and embellished by Edwin. It was all he ever knew and thus he lacked any reason to question his mother's version.

Over the course of the story, Edwin explores his universe and the various secrets and mysteries it holds. Among them is a woman other than Mother who serves as his "teacher," who is actually his mother in disguise. No matter which rooms of his Universe he visits, Edwin uses their windows as portals to glimpse the world beyond. He is unsuccessful in this task until he discovers the door open to a forbidden room. Upon entry, he climbs the spiral staircase to the tower, and looks out the windows.

In an experience reminiscent of the Biblical Saul, Edwin finally views the world beyond the Universe. He even fears blindness because of what he sees. In the end, soon after a joyful birthday party, Edwin discovers his collapsed mother motionless on the parlor floor. Unable to awaken her, Edwin finally leaves the only home he has ever known, symbolically "dying" and joyfully entering the outside world.

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  • Hmm, similar, but not quite the story I'm looking for I think. Thanks for trying though, as you can see, this question hasn't gotten much help! ;) Aug 9, 2016 at 20:52
  • @GammaPaladin - I noticed that you've not followed Rand's advice to work your way through the checklists here to see if you can improve the question.
    – Valorum
    Sep 7, 2016 at 20:59
  • I looked at the checklists and all the details they suggest including are included in my original question except where I don't know for sure myself. Sep 12, 2016 at 19:17

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