He was abed for more than a week. It seemed like years—decades even—but in reality it couldn’t have been more than a few months: a fall, winter, spring, early summer wasted with the business of getting well. His long, slow gasps; his murmured pleas for release from the pain that kept him fixed to the bed they’d pinned him to; his quick glances up to find that his mother—real or imagined he didn’t know—was still hovering over him: these defined his days, as a tomcat defines the alley in which it prowls.