Every night he woke in a cold sweat. Every night the same nightmare, a memory of a time that was meant to be a joyous moment for his family.
“100 people surveyed, top five answers on the board” the announcer’s voice repeated.
His mother gave a wrong answer. His father answered incorrectly. His sister correctly.
Two strikes and three more boxes.
“Name something you can do with your dog, but not your best friend,” the announcer asked his brother.
His brother answered correctly. Two strikes, two boxes.
“Keep us alive, buddy!” “You’ve got this!” His family clapped and shouted.
The announcer moved in front of him. The odd microphone was put in front of his face and the audience awaited his answer.
Don’t say that, don’t say that, don’t say that he repeated in his thoughts.
“Do you need the question again?” The announcer asked with a mocking laugh.
He fumbled his words, his thoughts made no sense and he said the one thing he never wanted to actually say.
“A shallow grave, Bob!”
There were no fake cries of ‘good answer’ or ‘nice try.” Bob just stared at him quizzically, himself unable to manage to ask if that was a real answer.
The announcer pointed to the board with a half hearted flick of the wrist.
The crowd erupted in cheers as the fifth box turned to reveal his answer matched that of one of the hundred people randomly surveyed. He kept the family alive, but had earned the nickname Shallow for family reunions ever since.