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Boys Don't Cry (and Other Rules)

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It’s the third time this month.

It’s the third time this month he’s woken up between soaked sheets, wet pajama pants clinging to his legs.

It’s the third time this month that, as soon as he comes to his senses, he bolts out of bed as quickly as humanly possible, desperate to rip the soiled bedclothes off his mattress. He balls them up furiously, wishing he could make them disappear. He’d burn them, bury them, if he could. Destroy all the evidence that he had ever had a problem to begin with.

And it is a problem.

He’s not so oblivious to think that wetting the bed at ten years old could ever be normal, even in this house. His brothers and sisters had all outgrown it years ago. He can’t bear to imagine what he’d do if they ever found out - he’s supposed to be a leader, after all. What kind of leader can’t even keep their sheets dry at night?

There’s no one there to see him, but his cheeks burn nonetheless. He isn’t a baby, for hell’s sake. This shouldn’t be happening.

There’s a gentle knock, and his door opens, though not wide enough for whoever’s out there to see inside his room.  

“Luther, honey-”

Mom’s voice. His stomach sinks.

“-can I come in?”

He wants to snap at her, tell her to go away and leave him alone, but something tells him that she already knows what happened. She has that way about her.

He clears his throat.


She already knows about his little problem. It’s been her who’s helped him clean up the last several times this has happened, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing.

He tries not to meet her eye when she steps inside and closes the door behind her, shutting out the noise of his siblings getting ready outside.

“I’m sorry,” is what he chokes out when she doesn’t speak immediately.

There’s a deep flush on his face, and he stares determinately at his feet, biting on his tongue to try and keep his lip from quivering.

“You don’t need to be sorry,” she says gently, coming over and leaning down so that he has no choice but to look at her, “I know you aren’t doing it on purpose.”

He shouldn’t be doing it at all.

He doesn’t say anything. He wants this conversation to be finished as soon as possible.

Mom coaxes the wadded-up sheets out of his grasp.

“I’ll take care of these while you clean up, okay?”

“Thanks,” he mutters, turning away from her to find another pair of pajama bottoms so no one suspects anything while he’s on his way to the bathroom.

Before he can even open the middle drawer of his dresser, though, Mom reaches out grabs him by the arm.


There’s a strange look on her face. Gentle, yet almost apologetic. Luther doesn’t think he’s going to like what she has to say.

“I think I’m going to have to tell your father about his.”

He’s right. The very thought of his father finding out about any of this makes his blood run cold with shame.


His voice is hard and angry when he says it, but his eyes are wide with fear. Dad would be furious he knew that his son - his number one - has succumbed to something so pathetic as wetting the bed.

Mom winces sympathetically, but presses on.

“I’m worried that there might be something going on,” she says, “this is the sixth incident so far.”

He cringes, heat rising to his face. He doesn’t need to be reminded.

“I’m fine,” he says through closed teeth.

He doesn’t mean to get so angry, but he can’t help it. There’s nothing he wants more than to keep this a secret.

“Please don’t tell him,” he says quietly, trying but not-quite-succeeding in hiding the anxiety filling his chest, “Mom- please?”

She purses her lips. Looking for a loophole, maybe? He hopes.

Her lips turn up in a small smile.

“I won’t say anything if you don’t want me to,” she says carefully, “but we’ll need to talk about this, okay?”

It’s not okay and he doesn’t want to talk about this, but he nods miserably anyway because it beats the alternative.

He’s grateful, at least, when she puts the issue aside and moves to leave the room.

“Breakfast will be ready in sixteen minutes,” is all she says on her way out, leaving him alone in his still-wet clothes.

Even after showering, he’s the first one seated at the breakfast table.