“Good night, Billy,” said Billy’s mom as she clicked off the overhead light, leaving only the small lamp on the bedside table to illuminate the room. “Go straight to sleep now; tomorrow’s a school day.”
“I will,” said Billy, who was sitting up in bed wearing crisp clean pajamas. “I just have to finish reading this story for school tomorrow. Mrs. Henderson always picks on me, and I don’t want to get busted for not doing the reading again.”
“Ok, Sweetheart. Don’t stay up too late.”
“I won’t, Mom. Goodnight.”
Billy’s mom shut the door, and Billy looked back down at his book. Why did they have to read such boring stories? Even the title was boring. “Rip Van Winkle”—what the hell kind of name was that?
“…at length his senses were overpowered,” Billy read. “His eyes swam in his head, his head gradually declined, and he fell into a deep sleep….”
Billy awoke at four in the morning. He needed to go to the bathroom. He rolled out of bed and groaned with pain. His back was sore. He stood up. He must have put his weight on his knee the wrong way, because it clicked, and a jolt of pain shot up and down his leg. He hobbled groggily, hunchbacked, and barefoot down the hall to the toilet. He stood there for a long time. Even though he had to pee, he could not squeeze a drop.
When he was finally finished, he turned on the tap to rinse his hands and glanced up into the mirror. Suddenly he was wide awake. Looking back at him was the wrinkled face of an old man. He leaned forward and squinted into the mirror, slowly running his fingers through his thinning grey hair.
“My goodness,” he muttered to himself. “Time sure does fly.”
And then he turned off the bathroom light and went back to bed.
By Charlie Taylor