Year 5: At five, John knew how he would die. There was a field behind his house that was mostly dirt and bright yellow flowers that were taller than him. He was walking with a stray dog at his side. The dog was yellow with matted fur and a tongue that was too big for its mouth. John repeatedly threw a stick ten feet forward for the dog to chase. 

“Hey, Buddy,” he called after the animal. John skipped forward, not paying attention to the dirt that billowed around his ankles with each step. “Come back here.”

His foot landed hard on something that gave away at his touch. It only took a moment for the wasps to scatter around his body in an angry flurry. The stings came fast and consistent. He ran with arms flailing and made it to his back porch before he fell to his knees. His fingertips grazed the back door, but he was unconscious before anyone came. 

He awoke in an unfamiliar place with nurses and doctors. His mom was sitting, her eyes wide and vigilant. “He was lucky this time,” the gray haired doctor was saying to his mom. She nodded once. “He’ll need to take this if it happens again.” He handed her a syringe and John shuddered. Both of their attentions redirected to his sleepy form on the bed. 

“John?” His mom had gotten to her feet, her hand already stroking his hair. “How are you feeling, angel?”

John’s mouth opened to speak, but everything felt clumsy and too large for words. His stare grew frightened as he looked between them. 

“It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.”

The doctor cleared his throat. “Yes, as I was saying…he’s going to need to keep this with him at all times…”