Year 16: Dan nursed his wounded leg for an entire day, but nothing made it feel better. When his son walked in through the front door he hadn’t expected much, but John was smiling. It was so rare to see that smile on his face any more that it completely caught Dan by surprise.

“Hey,” he said. “What’re you up to?”

“Nothin’.” John brushed his hand through his hair until it stuck in every direction. It was dark, but when the light hit it, it looked liked copper. He shoved his hands in his pockets, the smile still evident on his face.

“You look happy.”

“I kinda am.”

“Oh no. What’s her name?”

John squinted at his dad. “How did you know?”

“It’s always a girl.”

“Hey, Dad?” John rested his hand on his dad’s shoulder. It was very warm and took away the ache in his shoulder almost instantly. “Never mind.” He removed his hand and Dan felt the pain return. He looked at his son and shook his head.

Year 17: The forest was supposed to be a surprise. John hadn’t even thought to bring his epi-pen. He was wearing long pants, shoes…nothing was supposed to happen. When the bee landed on his arm, it was so sudden, so unexpected that John didn’t even move to shoo it off. It stung him and within seconds John’s eyes fluttered closed.

It was just as he knew it would happen. He sensed his slowing heart, the accelerated rise and fall of his chest. It wouldn’t be long. His last thoughts were that he didn’t cry out. Not once did he call for help. He lay in peace and silence, with only his own mind keeping him company. There was no one to hold his hand, no one to say his name. He was alone.

There were feet pounding the distance and then stopping directly by his head. A muffled scream. Hands pawing at his clothes. Cries for help.

Through dry lips, he muttered one word: “Tessa.”

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