Reflections of Strife

Begin at the beginning Isa asked: but there are so many beginnings.

Beginnings spread out like threads of hair, like Eluria’s red braid. They twist around and through one another; memories touching, tangling. Sometimes I cannot separate one strand of hair from another; I cannot grasp one single strand of memory.

Begin at the beginning?

I remember one beginning. I remember the wheat and the girl and the sun reflecting on her dark hair. I remember the sun on her hair because it really only touched the edge of that darkness and it glinted like gold; like a halo. I am a young boy, a little boy. Was that the first time I saw Love?

Soon after, I found Strife.

The Bully Boys, sleeves rolled up, dirty faces, dirty mouths. Swearing and joking. But none of what they said was really a joke. Nothing they said was funny. They hurt the girl, they hurt her.

Clunk clunk clunk clunk. That’s the sound of the train. It’s still around the bend. I shouted at the boys. I yelled for them to stop. The girl is on the ground, her dress is ripped.

The tallest Bully Boy, the leader, grinned at me. I didn’t grin back. He’s not the leader because he’s the tallest, but because he’s the meanest. No matter what the rest do, it’s because he tells them to. Or that they’re trying to impress him. Or maybe some other damn fool reason I can’t fathom.

I fight them and they beat me. They busted my lip. I can taste blood. Clunk clunk clunk. Train is closer now. Girl is yelling for them to stop. Her dress is ripped.

I’m on the ground; I’m in the dust. The Bully Boys are standing around me and laughing. The tallest boy, the meanest boy, the leader, is closest.

Clunk clunk clunk.

I stand up and I push him.

The kid’s in pieces. The train shreds him to ribbons. Two of the others are already running, but there’s one left standing there, covered in his friends guts looking scared. And he should be scared, because Strife’s not finished.

I grab the boy and I start hitting him. All I can taste now is blood and not just my own. Love is still screaming. I hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him.

Next thing I remember, I’m waking up in a mouldy room. Lady comes to give me medicine. I do what she says; I don’t hate her, yet. I listen to the voices in the walls. They call me “new kid”, but I don’t answer. I never answer. In spite of that they keep on talkin’. They teach me about this place where I’ve ended up.

Quickly, I realise, I’ve gotta get out.