Another few months passed, not so much like a dream so much as a sleepy reality.

Sam arose, not from the dirty mattress in his former closet nest, but from Tara's creaking bed. That bed of hers always creaked on its cheap springs, no matter how slight the movement. It gave an especially loud groan as Sam stretched and left behind the disheveled sheets.

In his underwear and an old undershirt, Sam ambled into the kitchen and gave his pregnant girlfriend a quick kiss on the cheek. Her hair was as disheveled as their bed sheets, but she didn't make a single protesting noise like the springs of the mass-produced piece of furniture.

On the counter sat a bowl of plain fried rice. Sam's mouth watered at the sight. He had smelled fried food in the air from the moment he'd awoken, even though he'd missed the sound of the rice sizzling in the pan while sleeping.

Sam began shoveling in the light brown grains. Maybe it wasn't the healthiest meal, but what did he care? It was filling, and some of the most delicious stuff he'd ever tasted.