Josh huddled against the wall in the corner of his bed and drew the covers tight under his chin. He was trying hard not to cry and would have liked to clamp his hands over his ears and drown out the sounds coming from the next room. But his father’s drunken words were coming out much uglier and louder than Josh had ever heard before, and he had no choice but to listen in case his mother needed him.
For an hour, he sat without moving and listened until the quarreling died down. He tried to go to sleep but anger kept his thoughts churning. It was so unfair! Couldn’t his father see any more how wonderful his mother was, how she would rather die than hurt anybody? She wasn’t very good at helping him with his homework like some of the other parents, and she wasn’t much on cooking and cleaning house, but she loved to joke around and have fun, more like a friend than just a mother.
Sullivan had buried his nose in Josh’s armpit and was sound asleep, with no worries or bad thoughts interrupting his dreams. It had been a long time since Josh had felt like that and he wondered if he ever would again. He was trying not to hate his father, but it was getting hard, very hard. Tomorrow he would be nine years old. The only present he wanted was that his parents would never argue again.
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