There’s a knock on the door, one that seems polite enough and it reverberates through Jamison’s skull and it hurts to pull the covers over his head as he tries to drown out the noise. He wonders why he can’t just lay in peace and a sense of dread and death fills over him. Why couldn’t they just kill him and get it over with? All of this feels like torture anyways.

“Go away,” he growls out from under the nest of blankets. Jamison is young, and his foster parents are eager to make this the best Christmas he’s ever had. He’s already chased away his two ‘sisters,’ but not with his fists this time; he didn’t have the energy for that and he knew better than to hit women. Jamison does take some perverse pleasure in knowing that his foul-mouthed whining had taken the same effect instead, though.

Whoever is on the other side is eager, and he huffs as he hears the door open with a disdainful little sniff. “I don’t think so. Let’s talk about what’s bothering you.” This is worse than the two girls that follow him around everywhere and giggle feverishly in his presence. Much worse. Jamison turns his back to the door, pulls the blankets tight around his shoulders and figures that if he ignores the man long enough, the man will go away. Or, maybe Hell will freeze over.

Having experience with troubled youths, the man peels the comforter off the boy; Jamison feeling the shield slide from his nerveless fingers and a cool hand press against the middle of his burning forehead. “Sit up,” his foster father orders with a hint of worry in his voice, which he quickly covers by a cluck of the tongue. Jamison didn’t think about it beyond the fact that it hurt to move but he still obliged. For some reason or another, he trusted this man … but probably because he was the first true ‘father figure’ he’d had – so when the next order of “open” comes, Jamison does as he is told of him and discovers a few pills are deposited on his tongue and a cup of water is placed gently in his hands. He swallows quickly and without any regrets and sips from the glass like he hasn’t drank in years; he makes a face when he finally sets the cup on the light stand by the side of his bed and prays that the nausea will hold off.

The man looks at him appraisingly and nods to himself before asking what Jamison’s eaten, but he looks green at the very mention of food and the man takes quick notes of this and nods again in silence. Jamison doesn’t remember closing his eyes but there is a hand that cradles his own and then some pressure as he feels something graze over his palms. He cracks an eye open and notices the roll of crackers to the man’s stern but kindly face. “Are you trying to make me fucking puke?” Turning his long nose at the unwilling patient, the man huffs. “Language! Even though you look terrible, that doesn’t mean you have to be terrible to everyone around you. Or, does that mean you have to feel terrible.” Jamison wilts at the rebuke and mutters an apology, except the man is still there, standing and looking over him with expectancy. Jamison knows he fails to meet everyone’s expectations and he curses himself for it mentally but decides that his deteriorating health can be fixed if he stops being so stubborn … even just for a minute. He unwraps the crackers from their plastic sealant, brings a slice to his lips and nibbles at it tentatively. It tastes fairly decent and he doesn’t have to work to keep it down, which lets him realize how hungry he was until that moment and how the smallest acts of kindness can instantly bring up his mood.