His reality wasn't one fit for a ten year old. He had no friends, no hobbies, no hope. The only reason he awoke every morning was because he had to. He spent his entire day waiting until he could return to sleep.
Sleep had become an escape for him. He'd wait at the steps until his father came home. He'd stumble in, wreaking of old liquor and peanuts. As his father made his way to bed, the boy felt it was safe to explore his escape.
The boy had the distinct ability to entirely remove himself from reality once his head hit his pillow. Suddenly, his harsh world of alcoholism and depression turned into one of vast exploration and infinite hope.
He fell asleep.
He had arrived. He was riding down the street on a red bicycle. The bicycle had a rearview mirror on each handle bar. The boy stared into the mirrors, watching his parents wave and smile with excitement as he took his first independent ride.
The boy stared for too long.
His parents' waves turned from peaceful to frantic as they realized he hadn't yet learned how to stop the bike. He rolled out into the middle of a busy intersection, and, just as a car was about to hit him, he disappeared.
You see - in his escape, nothing could go wrong. There was no death. There was no pain. There was only peace and happiness.
The boy found himself onstage at his school's annual performance. He was singing "Hey Jude" by The Beatles, serenading Sally Young, the girl of his dreams. He looked into her eyes and saw a sparkle. He couldn't help but smile from ear to ear. He looked into the crowd and saw his parents sitting there, front row, holding hands. They were so proud. His mother was even tearing up as she smiled and swayed to the music.
He looked at his father. He was smiling. But suddenly a bottle appeared in his hand. He began to drink it in front of the crowd.
The boy stopped singing and closed his eyes.
He found himself in a beautiful pasture. He looked down at his arm and found that he was much too hairy for a ten year old. He got up and walked to his nearby home. When he entered, he saw a wife and kids. Everyone was happy. He looked into the kitchen mirror and saw his adult self.
"Is everything okay?" His wife asked.
"Everything is fine," he replied with a relieved smile.
He walked toward the kitchen cabinet and noticed an unpleasant smell. He tried to ignore it, but couldn't help but think the smell was all too familiar. He opened the cabinet and suddenly something fell on his head.
He looked down. It was a bottle of vodka.
Another bottle came down and rocked his skull.
As the bottles kept coming, the boy felt his paradise slipping away, just as he did every morning.
With every thud, reality came crashing down.
The boy opened his eyes, only this time there was no salvation.
He laid there, his father hitting him with his cane, and started counting the minutes until he could return to his escape.