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In David Almond's Skellig, we first meet Michael, even while he describes his discovery of Skellig (known at first as Arthur).
Michael has just moved into a new home. His parents, besides handling the move, are extremely worried about their new baby—who was born early. Michael, understandably, is left to his own devices while his parents try to cope. Michael is feeling lonely and displaced. He says:
I found him in the garage on a Sunday afternoon. It was the day after we moved into Falconer Road. The winter was ending...No one else was there. Just me. The others were inside the house with Dr. Death, worrying about the baby.
Michael worries too: he listens for her breathing, visiting her room to see if she is all right. He feels her heart in his chest.
At the beginning, Skellig is very much like the trash that surrounds him in the "garage." Michael sees as it "more like a demolition site or a rubbish dump..."
He was lying in the darkness behind the tea chests, in the dust and dirt. It was as if he'd been there forever. He was filthy and pale and dried out and I thought he was dead.
Skellig is also misplaced, and starving. He has no hope. He does nothing all day but eat spiders and bluebottle bugs. Skellig at first calls himself "Arthur" (from "Arthur-Itis"). He is alienated from the world—because he is alone and because (as Michael notes) there is no one else like him. A connection begins to grow between Michael and Skellig.
The last of the three major characters in the story is Mina.
Mina appears one day when Michael is cautiously leaving the garage where he is not supposed to be. She introduces herself and disappears. She lives down the street and Michael often sees her sitting on the branch of a tree or a low wall, with a sketch book. She is an unusual girl: she loves birds and draws dozens of pictures of them. She, too, doesn't quite fit in—she is home-schooled because her mother believes public education inhibits intellectual growth.
Mina and Michael begin to spend a great deal of time together, and really get to know each other. Michael is finally able to share his secret (about Skellig), after Mina shares her secret about the old empty house with owls in the attic. It is a fine arrangement as he needs to find a place for Skellig because of the impending demolition of the "garage." Mina finds Skellig absolutely "extraordinary." This shared secret strengthens the tie between the two friends, and soon Skellig is being cared for by Mina and Michael. The sense of alienation each experiences begins to change.
Mina is able to convince Skellig to let them move him to the old house. Twice Mina gently kisses his cheek; the kids care for the weakened "man." Soon they discover he has wings under his shirt, which cause him great pain, but when they return days later, he is much improved— fed by the birds! Mina comments on how beautiful he is—even though he is different (as are all three of them). Skellig, Michael and Mina hold hands—joined by the bond of friendship—and as one, Skellig lifts them and they fly together in a circle.
Then, when the baby is close to death, Skellig secretly visits the hospital, saving her—but says that she gave him strength. Michael realizes that what saved Skellig was the love Mina and he have for Skellig, and Skellig goes to the baby with his love. Their shared love heals—changes—them all.
Love is the child that breathes our breath
Love is the child that scatters death. (William Blake)
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