by Quin Browne
He lay still, keeping his breathing even, listening to his parents on the other side of the bed curtain. The train moved south, carrying his family home; his parents, himself ill from scarlet fever and his older brother, who lay not in the lower bunk as usual, but, in a casket in the freight car. He heard them as they mourned, asking each other why God had not listened to their prayers. Their voices angry, sorrowful, puzzled wondering why in all His wisdom, this decision... choosing to grant the miracle of recovery to the wrong boy. He lay still, keeping his breathing even, understanding now what his life had become. He was six years old, an only child, and would never know their love again.
Quin Browne has dedicated this piece to Stephanie Burton, who encouraged her to send her first six back in June of 2007. (From Quin: "Stephanie's a smart, savvy writer, who will go far in the world not because she is a smart, savvy writer, but because she's sassy, witty and loyal. Rock on, Bee, rock on.")