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MarblesKaiden scowled. He threw himself back onto the narrow, metal-railed bed and pulled the sheet over his face.
"Kaiden," his mother's voice warned him. "I said don't do that."
"I can't hear you," Kaiden replied. "I'm dead."
He sniffed. The sterile smell of the hospital blanket made him feel angry all over again. It wasn't fair. Other kids got to have normal lives. You can bet that they got to have normal birthdays.
Before he could think of a complaint he hadn't said already, his mother pulled back the blanket.
"I'm not happy about the timing either," she said. "We'll celebrate once you're feeling better."
"I feel fine NOW!" Kaiden shouted. The sudden exertion of energy made his heart skip a little. He startled and put his hand on his chest. His mother gently turned his face towards hers, but he pushed her away.
On the other side of the tiny room,
All Here For A ReasonI turned onto a shady, well-manicured driveway that, for all intents and purposes, looked harmless enough. Maple trees lined both sides of the street, and a parade of Canadian geese marched across the road to a wide duck pond with a flamboyant fountain. There were blooming crepe myrtles and rose-of-sharons, and as I grew closer to my destination, neatly trimmed gardens with neatly trimmed bushes.
I stopped to let the geese pass. They looked at me; one hissed. I honked my horn and moved around them.
At the end of the road sat a collection of grayish buildings and a number of signs directing me to the appropriate parking lot. "Welcome to Ten Creeks Hospital," said one of them. "Please enjoy your stay." I parked in the visitor's lot. Surely I wouldn't be staying.
I was shaking when I got out of my car. I had spent the morning getting high. One foot in front of the other, flip-flop noises, hot sidewalk. Mulberry and magnolia trees, freshly shaved grass. A bench and pan for smokers. A set o
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