Tom rolled over in bed and opened one eye.
He decided it was probably time to get up. He roused himself and waddled into the kitchen.
“Well, well–look who’s among the living. And actually a few minutes before noon. A bit early for you, isn’t it?”
Tom glared at her. She never missed an opportunity to be sarcastic. To remind him that she thought he was a lazy slob wasting his life.
“Mom, just–could you not today?”
“Fine, fine. I just thought that today of all days you might…”
Her voice trailed off and she went back to pretending to organize the cupboards.
“Might what, Mom? What is–”
He stopped himself as he realized what she meant by “today of all days”. It was the anniversary. The anniversary of the day his life was simultaneously saved and ruined.
Mom started up again. “It’s just, I think about how lucky you were…then I think of your cousin Jimmy, and–”
“And WHAT? WHAT, Mom? WHAT? In case you’ve forgotten–because it seems pretty obvious you have–I know how lucky I am! I’m AWARE, OK? And what makes you think that a day goes by–a minute goes by–that I don’t think of Jimmy? He was my best friend. I don’t know why I got picked and Jimmy didn’t–we didn’t even know what was happening until it was too late. I watched them take Jimmy and the others away, and I stayed. For some reason, I got to stay. I don’t know why–I’ll NEVER know why. I didn’t ask to be pardoned, Mom, so if you don’t mind could you just LAY OFF ME?!”
Silence as those last screamed words hung between them. Mom looked stricken. Tom stared daggers at her for a few seconds, catching his breath, then stormed out of the room.
He was sobbing as he re-entered his bedroom, slamming the door behind him. Getting out of bed had been a mistake.
He grabbed his half-empty bottle of Wild Human from under the bed and got back under the covers. A rainy Thanksgiving seemed like as good a day as any to spend in bed, alternately sleeping and drinking.