Just an Ordinary Boy

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The first time he read "Alice in Wonderland", the boy felt as if he had opened his eyes for the first time. The splinter in his mind felt oddly soothed, and he hardly said a word for the rest of the week. He didn't speak much in the first place, though, so only his parents really noticed. Since they worked hard, they didn't particularly mind if he got quieter than usual. They were so lucky to have such a quiet, well-behaved son rather than the little monsters other people seemed to have.

He did go outside a bit more, especially at dusk. He liked to watch the sunset and the stars come out. It felt important to him somehow, just like it felt equally important to watch the dawn. The changeover seemed important, even if it did make his mind claw at the inside of his skull.

He didn't like to go outside during the day, but his mother made him. She thought it was good for him, and he supposed she was right. The sunlight hurt his eyes, though, and made everything seem too colorful to be real. In the afternoons it was the worst as everything settled into a golden haze. The heat made him sluggish, and the eternal qualities of some afternoons made him crawl under the porch to hide. He didn't want eternity to be like that. Sunlight should be like morning sunlight or sunlight in the woods. Not harsh and baking.

He got terrible headaches often. It worried his parents, especially when the pain got so bad he'd throw up. That didn't happen too often, not as often as the splitting headaches did. He adjusted, though, and could wake up any day and know whether or not he'd need sunglasses to keep his head from hurting too much.

The most disturbing event of his young life was when he came down badly sick one winter. His fever dreams were all pink-tinted and constricting, and the hacking fits he got into didn't help matters. He felt something jammed down his throat, knew it was there, piercing his lungs and stomach. But it wasn't, and he didn't realize how close he'd come to dying until Hamann offered him the red pill.