He was a needy child, maybe because his parents strictly controlled his drinking. They drank out every night–they had to in order to get through the weekend. On the weekends, they allowed the child to drink his fill. At home. No going out. They made that mistake once and the results were disastrous. His cravings had been so bad, he’d gotten away from them and drank just down the street from their home. They’d barely managed to explain that away. If it happened again, they would have to move–sooner than they usually did. The child’s drinking problem was their fault, but they never talked about what had happened, never mentioned it. What was done, was done, and couldn’t be changed. The alternative was inconceivable to them. They had never even brought it up. So they lived with the mistake they had made so many years ago now, and would for the rest of their lives…and his. It had been early on, in the first few months when they were young and inexperienced. Things had gotten out of control. THEY had gotten out of control. Transitioning to their new life had been difficult. They had only focused on the advantages and didn’t anticipate feeling the disgust doing what had to be done, didn’t anticipate the incredible NEED. The night it happened, they hadn’t had a drink for a week, and had resolved to go out that night after the child had his bath and was tucked in for the night. The father had forgotten to put away his razor before bath time and when the child mistook the razor for a bath toy, he grabbed it by the head, cutting his palm on the blade. It wasn’t a bad cut at all, just a little slice, just a little blood. The mother stared as a few drops fell to the white tile floor. Red, dark red, so beautiful. So thirsty… The father got to the bathroom just after the screaming had turned to muffled crying. From the doorway, he saw the mother cradling the child, his hand to her mouth. He had begun to speak, then stopped when the mother looked up from the child’s hand, a smear of red on her chin, eyes wide, black. Before he realized he’d moved, he was next to the mother and child, kneeling on the cold tile floor, pulling the child’s cut hand to his mouth. So thirsty… When they became aware again, aware of where they were, who they were, it was too late. Almost. No words were exchanged. The mother and father stared at the child, then at each other, then did the only thing they knew they could do. The alternative was inconceivable.