The boy was crying. He lay in his bed with the covers pulled up tight over his head so that no one could hear him sniffling. He was certain that his mother and sister would never forgive him for what he had done. Despite his mother’s assurance that it was okay, he knew that she would forever blame him for ruining their family and it was even worse with his sister. She had actually told him as much. He felt so scared and alone and so he buried himself even deeper under his sheets and blankets even though it was a hot summer day outside and their air conditioner still wasn’t working.
He started sweating almost immediately and had to surface for some fresh air. When he caught his reflection in the mirror on his dresser and saw his swollen, red eyes, he began crying even harder. What had he been thinking? He was just a kid. He was so stupid to think that he was old enough to handle such a horrifying situation. He thought he was helping her but he had actually made her life worse. He missed his dad terribly and another wave of emotion swept over him causing him to audibly cry like a baby.
Then something else happened. A different feeling started stirring in a remote corner of his heart and it forced him to stand up out of his bed and choke back his tears. He rubbed two grubby fists into his moist eyes and ran his shirtsleeve across his dripping nose. He cleared his throat and shook his head as if to force away the teardrops.
He hadn’t been wrong to tell. He was the only one who had done what was right and standing beside his bed in his mismatched pajamas he realized that he would have done it again. She deserved to be protected and he had undoubtedly made the right call. If his family was now falling apart, it wasn’t his fault and they would see that in time. He was the only man in the family now and he would stand by his decisions and he would always do whatever it took to hold his broken family together. His mother and sister might blame him today but they would eventually agree that he was their hero. No one would ever hurt his sister like that again.
Even in that emotional moment, a compelling clarity settled over him and he realized, “This is who I am. I am a protector of hurting, defenseless people. This is my calling.” If he had looked in the mirror, he would have still seen the same puffy eyes and twin tear tracks running down two dirty cheeks. He was still just a kid and yet he was also becoming something more. Though no one would have noticed it by looking at him, in that moment he was becoming a man.
I woke up and I was crying into my pillow. It was a dream.
Despite my amnesia, in the rare clarity that accompanies an abrupt awakening, I knew that the boy in the dream was me.
I slowly opened my eyes and through the blurring edges of my vision, I saw that I was no longer alone. The dream faded into forgetfulness as I looked into the gaze of several anxious-looking doctors in white coats. My enemy was there as well, in a designer suit, looking rested and refreshed and completely composed. He was speaking to me.
“Okay, let’s try this again. Do you know who you are?”
I shook my head.
The previous clarity from my awakening was already gone and I sat in their presence under an increasing fog of confusion and fatigue. Thankfully, my pain levels were low but I could feel them building again and my nausea was returning as well.
“Why doesn’t he know?” My questioner snapped at a man in a white doctor’s coat. “I thought you said the dosage was correct.”
“It is correct and he should know.” He replied with some visible consternation.
Actually I did know and in my foggy, sleepy state of mind, I had enough of my wits about me to try and leverage my presumed amnesia to my advantage. There was something about my identity that was very important to these dangerous men and although I was helpless, physically shattered and immobile, I determined to forestall whatever demise was coming.
“Let’s decrease the dosage and try again.”
“But the pain will be too much. He won’t be able to stay conscious long enough to talk.”
“We don’t have a choice. Let’s try it anyway.”
Why did they have to keep saying that?
Someone adjusted the flow of my IV and within a matter of minutes my midsection erupted in enough agony that I mercifully blacked out again.
End of Chapter Fourteen. To purchase this book and continue reading in printed or electronic form click here.