The Dead of Night

A young boy journeys through mourning, facing more than what meets the eye. I'll probably change the name. Thanks for reading if you do :)


1. The Dead of Night

Billy had to hide. His Mom would worry if she saw him out this late at night, but billy had to go.

In his wellies, he trod through the muddy fields. He loved the patting noise his feet made as he ran. It reminded him of when he was very young.

Billy and his Dad used to go through "boot-camp". They would dress up in camouflage suits and crawl across the woods. They carried a picnic full of jam sandwiches his Mom made before they left.

His Dad was a soldier before he got married, but when he discovered that Mum was pregnant, he couldn't risk his life anymore.

Billy's Dad was his hero: he taught him everything from how to ride his bike to how to build a birdhouse, but lately Billy found his Mom teaching him more and more.

Dad still taught Billy a lot, but he was finding it harder to talk to him now. Everyday, they became more distant, like time was pulling them apart.

Of course, Billy would never miss an opportunity to see his Dad, no matter how hard it was.

He heard owls hoot in the glow of midnight, a sound that never failed to terrify him, he found strength, however, in the woods ahead.

Billy ran down the gentle slope, removing his rain poncho, eager to greet his Dad, who, as always, was waiting at the foot of the hill. Billy rushed to greet him in a satisfying embrace. He let out a few weak tears, breathing deeply, trying to be brave.

"I've missed you," Billy whispered, he had learned not to alert the birds as that would probably wake his Mom who hadn't slept well for a few years.

"I miss you too," his Dad replied, "How have you been?"

Billy always found this question very difficult to answer as he had very mixed emotions, especially about school and his Mum.

"I think I'm getting used to it," Billy explained, trying to sound casual, "I really miss you but I understand that I'm lucky to have you here."

Bully's Dad looked proud of Billy, but avoided eye contact. He sounded more concerned when he asked, "Have you been good for Mom?"

"I've been trying," Billy cried, gently, "She doesn't believe me ever though?"

The initial joy in Billy's face had melted into a sad pallor. Billy loved everything about his Mom but he wished she would listen to him more.

"It's hard," Dad assured, "but you have to try to understand: how many Dads meet their sons in the woods in the dead of night?"

Billy thought for a minute, "Well, Zack from my class says he can see all the cats in the street in his room when he turns off the lights."

His Dad said nothing for a few minutes. Billy just watched him as the moon swam slowly across the sky.

"I don't think I can keep coming anymore, Billy," his Dad admitted.

Billy started to sob. He knew this day would come, but he wasn't ready yet.

"I'll really-" Billy couldn't go on. The agony of the inevitable hit him like a building crashing down. Killing hundreds of people. Leaving them to drown in the rubble.

Billy and his Dad shared one last hug before he watched his presence fade into a memory. Billy bawled the whole way home. He climbed through the window, careful not to make a sound. He tugged the wellies from his tired feet and slipped into bed.

As his eyes felt warm from the sore tears, his Mom whispered in the phone next door. Through her grieving tears, Billy heard her talk to Dr Collins.

"He went out again tonight, doctor... Every night for almost three years... No, I know it's hard for him... There is no medication or that will help him?.. No, I miss beginning to think it's more than just mourning, now... But doctor, there are other nine-eleven victims who didn't react this way..."

Billy closed his eyes but didn't sleep at all that night or most other nights. Sometimes, he went to the woods just to make sure his Dad wasn't there, but he never was, and Billy was never ready to accept it.

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