The weather changed quickly. The boat capsized. Three men drowned. No-one mourned. They were not good people. It was not a good boat. It was not good weather. The dream ended and the boy awoke. "You will never be a man!" yelled his mother, "Because men are evil and drunk and stupid!" He wanted to say, "But I will be a man. I have no choice. Why will you hate me when I grow up?"
He knew the answer. No matter how good, sober, kind, or smart he was now, these things would change. He would change and become someone his mother had to hate. Experience taught her what men were. Maybe she forgot they started as little boys afraid someone important would hate them for who they were, who they had no choice to be.
It had been a month and the dream hadn't changed. No bodies were found, just a boat full of empty beer cans and coolers and fishing tackle. He could pretend his father, his uncle, and his brother would still come home. They were staying late at the bar again spending all the money, and in the morning they would be back passed out and stinking on the living room couch and floor.
The biggest difference so far had been groceries. They had them. There were three meals in a day, with different food each time. Not macaroni three times a day but crunchy cereal and milk, then pastrami sandwiches, and finally spaghetti with a meat sauce. Life was quieter and everybody's feelings were hurt but no-one talked about how life was getting better.
He only cried once, on the day the search ended. Burning tears and gasping sobs were masked and washed away in the shower. Afterwards he felt drained of any feelings good or bad. For now the cool emotional numbness was an improvement and he enjoyed the unfillable emptiness keeping the world at bay. Soon though he would start seeing the ghosts and his detachment would begin to harden into a shell keeping the world out but trapping him alone with the past.