Tommy had flopped on the couch and dozed off after his morning workout, too exhausted to shower. He slept until the television powered up and the announcer’s voice filled the room.
“Detectible toxin levels up to vomiting have been recorded on the East Coast, with mostly dizziness levels over the Rockies and into the Southwest. It looks like things are gearing up to get worse, folks. We may have big changes in your local DTLs by the weekend.”
He sat up, rubbing his eyes, and reached for his bottle. He had no idea how much time CSD needed to work, but once there were toxin levels in the air around him it was probably too late. He hurried upstairs and stood in the shower far longer than usual, just in case. Afterward, he ignored the weights and therapy band lying in the middle of the living room floor, changed the channel to VacationCam, and dozed off again while watching Driving Through the Dutch Countryside.
When he opened his eyes, he was lying on a picnic blanket, surrounded by tall grass. The sun was warm overhead, and the air smelled sweet.
"Tommy? You forgot to water the grass!"
“Mom?” He jumped to his feet but couldn't see his mother. Grass carpeted the living room, and tiny shoots were sprouting on the stairs; but he’d neglected to care for it, and some of it was turning brown. He grabbed a watering can and broke a path across the room, sprinkling sparkling drops over the parched grass. I can't let it die. I can't. But the delicate blades turned brittle as the water fell upon them. "Mom, I won't let it die! I promise," he shouted, flinging water in wide arcs across the room, but the grass sank and shriveled around him. Over in the corner by the stairs, a red rose sprang from the cracked soil and began to twist itself around the banister. Tommy scuffed through the tangled grass until he was close enough to see the engraving on the bottom step: Beloved Mother and Father.
He sank to his knees and ran his hands over the step, brushing the dead grass off his parents' gravestone.
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