Author : Peter Carenza

It was a special day; not merely because Bobby opened his eyes to an absolutely picture-perfect sunny surprise straight out of a travel brochure, but because he had been waiting for today for a long, long time. Rubbing the sleepy crust from his eyes, he swung his feet out of bed and ran nose first into a wall of sensory pleasure – the scent of still-sizzling bacon and eggs, browning toast, and Lord knows what else his parents might have conjured before dawn’s eruption.

Taking that as his cue, he jumped up, grabbed a clean shirt, and bounced out the bedroom door, practically fllinging himself down the stairs.

“Good morning, Bobby!” exclaimed Mom, always the first to spot things.

Dad looked up from his newspaper and grinned. Winking knowingly, he motioned to the hot food simmering on the stove, he said, “Help yourself, son. It’s your day! We’re gonna spend some quality time together!”

And of all days, this one was shaping up to be the most perfect.

It was planned for months, a chance for Bobby and his parents to bond, to spend some quality time together. For once, Bobby was asked what he would like to do, where he would like to go… it was as selfless a gift as he could have ever received, and though it happened only once every six months or so, it made him feel valuable, loved.

After a most scrumptious breakfast, one during which Bobby thoroughly stuffed himself, he scampered upstairs to get ready to go. He was pleasantly surprised, though it was typical of his Mom on special days like this, to find a brand new set of clothes beside his bed. Ecstatic, he slipped into his new clothes, stormed down the stairs just as his parents were ready to walk out the door — and so the day began.

This frame in Bobby’s scrapbook, this 24-hour spectacular, was better than any previous special days in his life. It was as if all the most pleasurable activities in a lifetime were crammed into a compressed capsule of time and space, and Bobby existed at its very center. Amusement parks… miniature golf… sumptuous meals…. Yet, like the persistent lap of the ocean waves against the glistening beach sand, all things in time and space ebbed and flowed. And like the deceptively sturdy-looking sand castle Bobby built that day at low tide, all things must soon pass. As the sun settled lower against the infinite horizon, the waves grew closer and closer to the shore and etched larger and larger pieces from the structure, until it finally collapsed.

Bobby heard his parents calling for him. He looked out at the ocean wistfully, silently sobbing under the gulls’ screeches, then turned and solemnly joined his mom on the way back to the car, his head resting against her hip, her hands stroking his sandy hair.

He was weeping uncontrollably by the time he was inside the car, his face red and swollen. He knew what was coming… the consolation, the pleading, before the syringe was pulled from the purse bearing the CDS logo… Cryogenic Disposition Services.

“Why? Why can’t you just find some other jobs or something?”

“Son, we’ve been through this before. We’re working to give you the life you never had, so that someday you and your kids won’t have to go through this.”

Tears blurring his vision, he helplessly watched as they pulled out the needle and injected him.

As he slowly faded into blackness, he wondered what special kind of life awaited him in return for this.

Quality time, indeed.

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