An annoying thought kept popping into his mind.
He was Bill’s God, too. Well that made Bill an idiot! What was the sense in praying to a God and serving a God who was only going to let you die right when everything was so great?
Another, less annoying and more convicting, thought occurred to him.
Your mother is downstairs alone.
Paul rushed down, but she wasn’t on the floor in the living room anymore. He opened the door, wondering if she went out with those two policemen, but there was no police car there.
Paul went inside. He started to worry as he looked around and let out a sigh of relief as he found his mother sitting in the dining room.
Just a while ago, we were all celebrating.
Paul didn’t know what he felt. Suddenly all the white boards and numbers seemed wrong to him. It wasn’t the same without Bill. A part of Paul was shocked to feel hatred. He hated himself for letting Bill in. He hated Bill for dying, and that didn’t even make any sense.
Paul’s mother sat in her usual place. She stared at the boards as if she were trying to figure the science out.
“Mom?” He didn’t have a clue what to say. He opened his mouth again to ask if she were OK and shut his jaw as soon as he realized what a moronic question it was.
“Do you know what he always said to me before he went home?” Her voice quivered even as she spoke.
Paul shook his head.
“He’d always say, ‘I’m thankful for today, and if this is my last day, I’m glad this was it.’” She started sobbing again just as she finished the quote. It did sound like something Bill would say. It was still stupid. He was still an idiot for pretending a day was worth every day that could have come after.
Paul darted over and wrapped his arms around his mother. Still unsure what else to do, he just held her and let her cry.
“Why?” Paul hoped she wasn’t asking him, but he knew what he would say.
He’d say, “Because there isn’t any God. There couldn’t be one if he’d let something like this happen.”
Something held his tongue though. It was probably because he knew saying something like that wouldn’t help his mother feel any better. As much as he wanted to punch Nobody so hard that mask shattered, he wanted to comfort his mother that much more.
“You know he loved us, right?” This time his mother pulled back and looked right at Paul. He knew she wanted an answer.
Yeah, he thought. The word didn’t come out.
His mother grabbed his chin in her hand in a firm grip and stared into his eyes. “He loved you! And I know he loved me.”
Paul’s jaw trembled. “Then why didn’t he stay?”
“Oh, Paul!” She pulled him back into an embrace. “I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s more to love than where you sleep.”
But if he’d stayed, you would have been together! He wouldn’t have been on the road! He wouldn’t have died! In fact the only reason he’s dead is because he was too afraid of pissing off an imaginary being. He died anyway. He did the right thing, and he died because of it!
“It’s OK.” His mother whispered gently to him, and he realized he was weeping again. He was so angry. All that anger was back. It was like all the years he spent trying to let it go was just like some sort of deposit into an account, and now it was back with interest. The only things stronger were his sadness and his desire to make his mom feel better.
She held him, and they cried together until the sun came up.