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Thomas rolled over on his wooden bed, one hand gripping his stomach. His young facial features wrinkled up in pain as he let out a sharp cry. He carefully twisted over on his other side, but the bruise on his left arm caused this position to be even more uncomfortable than the last.

He reached for his frayed teddy, sitting above him on a makeshift shelf nailed into the wall. It was dark, and his fragile eyes hadn’t adjusted to his surroundings, so he ran a hand along the side of the shelf until he felt the animal’s leg hug over the side. Wrapping his hand around the worn-out limb, he pulled away but ultimately met a large splinter which ran about a quarter of an inch into his thumb. Throwing the bear across the room in pain, his hands met his mouth just in time to muffle his scream.

For what seemed like an eternity, he sat upright covering his mouth, hoping he had not wakened his parents. Finally, the pain became too much to bear and he began to stumble towards the doorway, attempting to be as quiet as possible. The creaks and groans of the old house following him with every step he took, but he finally made it outside his parents doorway. He took a deep sigh, and with a shaking hand he reached out and twisted the knob. His legs now weighed more than ever before, but he pushed himself to move on, until he was finally at the side of the bed in which his mother was sleeping.

“Mommy”, he whispered as quietly as his lips would let him. His mother rolled over still sleeping, until she subconsciously became aware of his presence and opened her eyes. She stared at him, not moving nor daring to blink, until she finally replied.

“Yes? What are you doing?” she quickly whispered back.

“I…” he took a pause and clutched the side of his arm, “I need some of it.”

His mother looked at him adoringly, wanting to swoop him up in her arms. She knew he was referring to the painkillers she gave him when the pain became too great to bear.

“Honey”, she uttered. “You know I need you to be strong for me. You have to go back to bed now, or… or you might wake him”, she finished.

Behind them, a figure rose underneath the sheets, letting out a drunken grunt. The mother clutched her son as they both froze in terror.





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