It’s 3:53 am, I’m awake, and it’s raining—it is always raining. My world has drowned. There is a virus sweeping the planet that is killing people in droves, a silent killer. It may be, it is probably, right outside my door. I’m a coward, sometimes I think about killing myself, but I don’t think it would help and might make things worse. My name is Charlie, and I have these thoughts at 3:53 am, as I lay here in a pool of my sweat. To try to sleep, I recall my days as a boy when the pieces of this life seemed to fit together before the edges became jagged and ruined.
A memory, summer 1963… as the sun was setting on the day, the distant and primal evening yell of mothers echoed off the woods, and reeds, and mud-stuck boats by the swampy lake, calling the children home. We all scattered and ran, so as to not be late, never wanting to be late. Late was something terrible, never clearly defined. It was always like that. Some perceived threat, be it the Soviets, or dark, or being late, or panthers. I was scared to death of being eaten alive by panthers, and though I’d been assured many times that panthers lived in Africa, I was convinced one lived up on the mountain behind my house. I’d best to get my ass home, and not be late, knowing the panthers came out after dark.
I was a muddy boy; I liked mud, mud found me, attached itself to me. Mud and me, we had a bond, but the specter of a bath loomed, and I’d just as soon sleep in my mud as get all wet. Bathing had no place in the life of a young boy, as the long days were ending.
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