by Tania Moreno
This is his origins, the document of the beginning of his life from a young age.
|Chapter 1: The First Death
In youth we can all identify what we are meant for in our lives if we pay close enough attention to the signs we are given along the way. In my case, I should’ve known the line of work that I was headed for by the look and feel of my first exposure ever to the elements of death.
I gained my first memory of life’s endings when I was a small child by the age of 5. It is the memory that I replayed over and over with much wonder of “why” every single time. Though I’m now eons past shedding tears and feeling pain about it, I still recall the memory wishing it had not been a memory for me to keep. I look back at what happened with much sorrow, not because it was a death, but because it’s occurrence meant so much more for me than any death could for any other. This one that I witnessed was the beginning of my purpose, the start of many endings, the first loss that put me on my path to becoming something like a king of a kingdom that I never did ask for, neither did I want.
At the time of this fateful event, my brothers and I were three of a kind. We dressed in inexpensive weak threads, wearing shirts that were buttoned up neatly beneath our small leather vests. Our hair was long, though worn in different lengths that never rested further than underneath our ears. We were roamers of the land and hoppers of the rocks as the most adventurous children of our small, low populated town.
We scurried across the unoccupied areas of our town, following our own paths alongside log constructed cabins. The oldest of us lead the way. The second oldest tagged behind, and I, the youngest did my best to keep up without tripping.
“Come on, keep up!” They used to look back and tell me, and then they’d disappear around the corner behind a house, for a split second leaving me all by myself. Then I’d catch up, and between the small homes we continued to run without yet any real destination. In a spacious line, we rushed beneath clothing lines, sprinted past the out houses and stomped up then down the stairs of the town’s shops.
Architecture was not yet an advanced study, not in our town. We did not have beautiful marble based buildings that other regions of Europe were making popular, no. When we raced up the steps to our region’s miniature little shack of a market, we could hear the steps squeak weary beneath our feet, louder with the faster we moved. Then, at night when we all laid tucked into our beds separated in the three corners out of four in our room, we could hear the weak structure of our home creak with the slightest blowing of whistling winds.
Going back to what I was up to in my youth through out the day, every day was the same. The buildings constructed on either side of the cobble stone street were built on dirt and sparse patches of grass. One of the facts about our settlement was that we lived under deprived circumstances. There were no bodies of water any where near except for a lake beyond the trees, and a river in a far off distance, but we’ll get to that. The lack of water left many of our population scrawny, and without much energy at all. Along the path through out our town there were both poor men, and sometimes haggard women that either laid along the path, or sat there uselessly. The deficiency of luxuries in our area left the town stuck in low spirits and low currency.
The only thing anyone could say that they had was hope. There was a time when my brothers and I were playing out by the farms. In the dark petals of the corn stalks I stopped at the sound of mumbling and I watched. My ears attuned to my curiousity, I overheard words of an old man kneeling in the middle of his field of dying crops. I heard him say, “God, grant thy fields and thy city the water to grow crop and cure the famine running rapid in our streets.” he said speaking the prayer in old English.
I wondered then and I wondered now why he didn’t just pick up a bucket, get on a horse and travel to the river for himself. Instead from my distance I watched him stand back up, and go back to the direction of his home to do Lord knows what. To be perfectly blunt, it was his laziness that failed to upkeep his farm if you asked me. Too bad it was a child that I was at the time or I could’ve been the one to tell him trying times should call for trying measures. Granted that yes the river was far, I still even now believe that we could’ve had better land if more effort had been made. Even if we did have an unfortunate placement on the planet, the very minimal spark of optimism in me says it could’ve been better. Oh that optimism.
Unlike the farmer who took pity in his own sloth, our father was a hunter. He was a successful one at that with his old bow and arrow skill. Though he stayed away through out the day doing well at amassing prey, his plates were proportioned the largest, which left us, the rest of his family, just as hungry as any other of the town‘s people. He needed to eat the most to keep himself a strong build, or so he used to say. As he’d drop on the table the dead rabbits, or on occasion, limp gazelle, he’d , “Make my plate large ye hear, I am exhausted and need my strength.” . Under the bill of his bucket hat you could see his cheeks growing chubby, and beneath his flannel shirt his weight outweighing muscle. Our food supply was never enough because of this greed.
The stress of trying to survive while keeping up with sin left our family in the common struggle.. The act of love, a counter part to sin, would’ve been an ease in the trenches of our life, but that did not exist for us. I blame that for the numbness to any of my emotions even now that I know better. Since the beginning of time, our father was never a happy man. He, with a temper shorter than, and as snap-easy as a toothpick, would throw a riot size fit at the spill of a glass.
The spill of a glass was something we took care to make sure never happened because of that. Not just because of the drought, but because we knew we’d better. The love we knew was of peace, and our mother seemed to take the blunt of things. It was nightly after supper that he’d grumble, sometimes shout, and our beautiful dear mother, always had the duty of appeasing him to calm him down. After all, it was the woman’s role. She was to remain with her appearance at an upkeep, but she was not to talk up. She was to do as a woman should, keep the house healthy and be a prize to the man, whichever man chose her. Our father chose her. This was how life worked, this was how we brothers came to be.
Mother was the archetype woman. Our father, the archetype male. But I’ve seen every type of person since then. There was no doubt that an archetype was nothing more than an idea. Every one dies, every one loses the beat of their heart, the functions of their brain, the feeling of their soul the same. Whether they were the perfect model of the most popular idea of what something was supposed to be, it did not matter.
I digress here shedding light on that. Yes, life was a struggle, though my brothers and I made the best of it. It is true, our parents were always at an imbalance for as long as I knew. We all die the same, we all go to the same place whether we realize it or not but it is also to be taken into the account our lives are all different from the next person‘s. Its our own mindful responsibility of our actions that says so. Our choice of how we strive toward our destination of death, our choice of words along the way before we get there are the only things we have any control over. It is all what adds experience, and perspective to our lives. It is what purpose is. Simple. You live by good enough rule, then you die for your purpose.
I say this as someone who lived by few words. I say this as someone who died and became a Reaper. All words demonstrate your purpose. The words of my older brothers were more than most of the time always of leadership. The words the farmer spoke were desperate man’s words in search of hope. The words thrown out by my father were words that inflicted aggression, hate. Words that people chose to be spoken used to make me wonder what made a person speak them. At night as we all lay in bed, we’d hear our father yell from the core of his angry soul,
“I ought to prosecute you as the witch you are, you worthless heathen.“ What could she have done to deserve that?
The yelling went on, “You listen very little, woman. You know no respect do you? Answer me.“ Were his particular words that night. Behind a closed door I couldn’t hear how our mother responded, but my guess was that she remained soft spoken. She did not speak like a dreadful heathen. There was no easy identifiable purpose in the things he said to her.
As a boy, innocent, and responding to instinct I knew I loved our mother as much as I loved peace. I’m sure our oldest brother Paul did, the way he’d lend her a hand at breakfast time, carrying bowls of fruit from the counter tops to the table and such. Though Cassiel was always picking a fight with me, he would always obey our mother’s sound direction to “Stop that.“ without any hesitation. Our mother was no heathen, but she was a woman that did well taking care of her own without any sign of aggression or hate. She was graceful no matter what.
Though those were times of confusion, war, depression, illness, and as mentioned before, misconduct, giving us plenty to be grateful for as healthy male bodies - though the chapel sat beautiful at the entrance to our town as a reminder, we boys still did not have enough example of the word to really know grace. How to be grateful for the conditions of our household, or the emptiness of our land was not something wired within our brains. Running off was our way natural way of being.
The times came to be that after we came home for supper at the setting of the sun, we went directly back outside to avoid listening in on another pointless one-sided argument of our parents. Our skin was sun kissed and tan, in some places peeling burnt, from all of the avoidance, we were as good as homeless. Cassiel and I would wait for Paul at the door. Then we’d retreat and play outside for the remaining time of the sun light nearly every night.
Here comes the part where I was beginning to learn what living rooted in this dead of land meant for me. Under the adventurous air of one specific evening that my brothers and I were avoiding home we went out further from the front of our town than ever before. We followed the dirt path far past the “shoppes“, and past the town chapel. Paul was leading the way.
“Its just past here.” 13 yr old Paul said. Full of lively energy he did a brief spin around, walking backward as he talked to make sure we were still following, then turned back around and stepped ahead of us with his head held high, “I got something to show you two. Coolest thing you will see in life.“ A good big brother he was at that time. With my stumpy child’s legs I was following fast as I could behind him. Cassiel was a little further ahead, he walked closest to the edge of the path where the grass concaved into a shallow ditch on the side. I didn’t want to get too close. I kept my stride behind in the middle of the path walking along what I could see, noticing the night coming on as the trail became a shade of orange.
Paul made a sudden stop. We didn’t follow the trail to the end. That would’ve taken us days toward another town. He stopped at a point where there was a clearing in the plant life at the side of our path. He then stepped forward past a few trees, and we followed him into the forest. This was already a place Id never been to. It smelled different. It was dark. There were roots, and rocks that I nearly tripped over with every step. Out of fear of getting lost, I sped my maneuvering up through them even though I was risking injury just to keep up.
To this day I can remember that place well. After the incident I often used to return. My first visit there with Paul opened me up to an entirely new world. It was a world that was a great contrast from the bland, blankness of our poor town. Besides the roughness of the terrain, the forest was a beauty. Under the light orange of the sun setting sky, there were rich green shrubs growing in the dirt beside almost every tree. The green shrubs were accompanied by the occasional group of white capped mushrooms, and fully blossomed purple flowers. If my brothers weren’t moving so fast ahead, as innocent, and admittedly sweet of a kid that I was back then, surely I would’ve stopped to pick one for our mother.
But there was no time for that. We burned a lot of day light. Just before the night went from a pale orange to a rich blue, we arrived at a lake. There was enough light to see its waters stretch for yards from the mound of land we were standing on, to the other side where I could not see that there was much land to really stand on at all, just tons and tons of trees becoming as visible as shadows the more that time passed.
Paul managed to step further down the land, closer to the shore of the water. I, standing beside Cassiel at the top of mound, watched Paul reach down into the dirt beside a wide stalk of tall grass, then stand straight back up facing us. He was showcasing to us a pebble in between to fingers in his hold.
“Come on down here. Watch what we can do with this.” He said to us. Cassiel, without hesitation traveled down the slide of the ground, but I watched from where I stood. I was unsure I wanted to get close to that large body of water. Our town was dry. We never learned what it was to swim. I was afraid to die.
From where I stood I was still able to see what Paul wanted to show us. He extended his arm back, and he threw the stone.
“Wow” Cassiel said in a breath. To us it was magic. The stone created several ripples in the water in a line. He had skipped the pebble across the lake, far and with skill, like he’d been practicing this a long time. I did not understand how he did it, but he did.
“Let me try!” Cassiel said carefully stepping behind Paul. He crouched down to search through the pile of rocks where Paul had found his throwing stone.
“Find one that’s edges are smooth and small. It has to be like well a done sculpture piece.” Paul said as he looked over him. I didn’t move. It was a sight to see but it still meant being close to water. At the time, it was something I equated with death, and a young fool I was I was not ready.
Paul turned his head to look at me in all my bravery far above the pile of rocks.
“Arent you goin’ to come down here and find a stone, Abey?” Paul asked. He was unaware of the unreasonable fear that I was harboring.
“I don’t know how,” were the words that fell from my mouth. ‘I don’t know how’ I let an unknowing of how to tread a slope of land, how to find a dancing stone, and how to make it survive across the water leave me petrified and inexperienced of the fun. Cassiel was only 2 years older than me. Being a child was no excuse. Being a coward afraid of living, was.
“Jump down! Pick a smooth one, yeah?” Paul said to me then looked back down at Cas, who raised up readily from the floor and took two steps toward the lake. Just before his feet would reach the water, he threw the stone and it created three visible ripples at the surface of the water.
“Yes…that’s how you do it. Good job.” Paul told him, and Cassiel laughed. I imagine he was proud of himself, as he should’ve been. He went back to the area of land by the grass, confidently and searched for himself another stone to throw while Paul looked back up at me.
With legs longer than at that time, he lunged his way back up the seemingly steep slope of land. Then he said to me,
“Just move down.” His advice making the action easier than it actually was. His demonstration making it seem like it was nothing as well. As he said that, he timed his feet down the slope so that he’d reach the bottom without falling. For me, a young tike, it just seemed impossible. I didn’t want to say no, and be weak, but I didn’t want to do it and fall either.
“Come on. If you need me to I’ll catch you.” His stance, his full attention to where I stood even though Cassiel had claimed loudly to be ready to throw again, let me know that what he promised was true, so I took the step.
I eased one foot into the dirt, then the other quickly, then I jumped to the bottom and I landed just fine. The spectacle I had made of myself. An idiot I was. I made it down perfectly fine and alive.
“Great, now find yourself a stone to throw before the night sets in too thick.” Paul said to me, and that I did. I went searching around the dirt, walking in the opposite direction of Cassiel, looking for my own stone to throw. I didn’t trust him anyway. His constant need to horseplay might’ve caused me to fall into the water, and drown. I searched the other side keeping my distance from him, where there were less stones and more over sized boulders than anything.
While Cassiel and Paul picked and skipped their stones, I ventured and I dug into the ground until I found something of my own. In the soil something smooth stuck out. It was different from the little boulders in shape. It was not even a rock. I dug it out, and holding it in my hand I couldn’t recognize what it was. I didn’t know I had found a bone, until, as I held it in my hand I saw my hand become parts all in the same image and appearance of the object’s shape.
In a panic I dropped it and I looked at my hand. It was a normal hand again, nothing more, nothing less. The night might’ve been playing tricks on me. We might’ve been out too late, but then I heard a voice carry along with a wind that blew in my ear. I remember precisely what it said., “Child. Take your brothers and flee. Leave far from here, or learn ye life’s lessons in unimaginable ways.”
I looked up in front of me, past the downward slopes of sparse grass, I saw a girl sitting at the top. She was dressed in white, her skin was white, her hair, white. She turned her head to look at me, and her eyes were…white. I stuttered as I panicked,
“P-Paul. Who is that?” I said, my voice high pitched and resembling a scared girl‘s.
“Who are you talkin’ about?” His foot steps in the dirt peddled him closer until he was beside me and looking in the direction which I stared.
I looked up at him, and I pointed out in her direction where I had seen her clear as day, to show him the girl sitting on the mound of land. I wanted him to see the girl of nothing but light, in a light gown, with an unusual set of eyes.
When I turned from looking up at Paul, to verify her presence with my eyes, she was gone.
“Stop playing tricks, Abey before I knock your head in!” Cassiel said from my other side. His footing left him liable to be pushed into the lake, but I was too distracted by the spirit lady I had seen to even think to do a horrible thing like that. I was too distracted to be fearful of the sound of his fist pounding into his own hand.
“There’s no one there.” Paul pointed out, and I stood there shaken.
From the dirt he picked up the smooth, large as a small boulder, object that Id found.
“Hey. Wicked. It’s a bone.” Paul examined it, then showed it to Cassiel. As Cassiel looked at it, abruptly he asked,
“Can you skip it, Paul?” Paul dropped it quicker than an unskippable rock. He definitely did not hold it long enough to see what I had seen. I wondered if he looked for the ghost lady long enough, to get a glimpse of who’d spoken to me. She warned us to “leave.”
I didn’t understand why, until I looked back across the lake, only seeing the black of the water, no longer visible as a lake. It seemed more now like a pit, a pit that we could have no fun in. Her direction was sensible.
“I want to go home.” I told them. They were back to their pile of stones, getting ready for a skip race.
“And I do not. Quit being a baby and race a stone with us.” Cassiel without giving an eye of compassion to me for a second, shut down my request.
“Yeah, in a moment.” Paul picked up another stone and tossed it into the water. Going home at that instant was not a choice to them.. I myself refused to throw a stone into a body of water that‘s surface was so dark I could barely see. I sat in the dirt, and I pouted. I didn’t attempt to climb the mound and head back myself. I didn’t state my reasons for wanting so badly to leave. A child, I curled up and remained quiet, throwing a fit refusing to participate. With my arms rest atop the bent of my knees in front of me, I rested my head in the direction of where I’d seen that girl. She did not appear again. She did not utter a word. The air was silent, and I had wished she would speak to my brothers for me, so that they could understand. but they continued on about themselves as if they did not hear a word. I knew they hadn’t by the way they continued to play carelessly right in front of me. She had only spoken to me.
All was fun and games. All was an avoidance of the fear at home. It was just us as the night took over in the sky as well as the lake. Then, the thing to run from appeared: Trouble.
“What are you scrawny lot doing in my neck of the woods?” A taller boy was standing at the top of the mound. He made his voice to sound intimidating.
I turned around. Paul, Cassiel and I were looking in his direction. His build was tall, and not bulky, but you could tell his muscles were strong by the way they bulged in his arms, out from his vest. He had to be at least 15.
“Don’t you blokes know this is my land?” The boy jumped down onto level with me, and my brothers. I stood up, and I moved along the coast of the lake, away from his vicinity. I was scared, while Paul faced the boy that was taller than he was, fearlessly.
“I didn’t see your name anywhere ‘ere or in sight. Take your rude arse and go on and bother some one else.”
From behind the taller boy, I could see a face on Paul I’d never seen before. The face of a survivalist, ready to fight and defend his own. If only I could’ve been older, braver a real soldier at the time or even my spirit self, then maybe I would’ve been more brave. This kid that was frightening to me, a 5 year old, cowardly little boy, would’ve been cake to make disappear. But that was not yet who I was.
“Oh ye want to know my name? I’ll tell you my name.” The older boy picked up my brother by the front hem of his shirt, holding him above the ground and it was then that he said with his best of his voice,
“My name is Royce, and there isn’t another stupid enough to play at my lake for me to bother with. Got it?” He bashed my brother’s face with his forehead leaving his nose bloody on his face, then threw him on the ground. Immediately Cassiel lunged at him to push him away, and he gave him a solid hit in the face as well that lead him to fall backwards by the rocks the same as Paul did. I stood there defenseless. I was quiet, with eyes searching for a way I could help.
Paul sprang back up from the dirt, and immediately pushed the boy back, producing nothing more than a stumble a couple feet back from where the older boy was standing. His weigh took him back closer towards me. Despite the fact that he‘d been moved, Royce laughed a hearty laugh full of mockery. He was a pillar. He gathered a steady step in the dirt. It was a move that said, try that again. I watched from my position behind all of the action as a useless, small set of arms and fists. If I had been any older I would’ve pushed him forward. My big brothers and I could’ve made this big headed idiot run, but I was born much too late. I was much too young to muster up any real strength. I could only watch.
Paul knew no forfeit. Not that it seemed like to say, “Okay, we’ll leave” was an option anymore. He made a go at the kid that I wish he had not. We should never have been at this lake so late. We should have listened to the phantom lady and gone.
The kid hit my brother so hard he bled at the lip, and when Paul showed no relent, he grabbed him by the shoulders tripped him up and pushed him into the lake.
I remember I stopped breathing for a moment as my older brother fell invisible into the waters. He fought at the top of the lake for air. He gasped repeatedly, the water splashing around him, quieting his attempts to breathe while I watched in a frozen panic, and Cassiel yelled out a tone full of sheer fright, “No!”
It was a guttural yell so loud that it echoed in the trees. Regardless of whether he would be kicked in after him or not, Cassiel was at the edge lending a hand to Paul, trying to reach Paul’s swaying arms. I looked behind us. Royce, who might’ve been able to help, was backing away. The expression on his face at first worried, changed. He scoffed out a laugh, showing a smile full of crooked teeth.
“That’s what you get for messing with a General’s son!” He said to us over the clapping of the waters. The scum bag climbed up the slope, and stood there calling out, “Better learn to swim you worthless maggot.“ Then taking his time he stepped backward and away into disappearance while Paul sank and struggled within the dark, mucky water making little progress at swimming anywhere close to Cassiel‘s hands. His life, ending, for something as small as a fun, peaceful night by the lake.
I dropped to the edge of land beside Cassiel and I called for Paul to hurry and grab his hand. With my hands covered in dirt and gritty I wiped my eyes trying not to let tears cloud my vision even though I knew then and there what I was seeing was nothing more than the last of Paul. He failed to move his legs fast enough. He let shock overrun him. He drowned in the lake that night, unable to make a hand in hand connection with brave brother, Cas who was stretching out his arm in his direction as far as he could. The end of him was in silence, in the quiet of the water. In the stopping of his movement, in his failure he floated face first in the lake with no sign of life.
Terrified of what this meant now, a life without our leader, we made our way home after that. Knowing we could not stay there at that lake, with rocks in our stomachs we pushed through the trees and branches of the forest straight ahead until we found the clearing in front of our town. The walk from there took forever. Our feet slumped down that damned dirt trail that lead us there. If only we had hit this trail sooner as three. If only we had never even left town, perhaps it would’ve been the 3 of us headed home.
Cassiel didn’t stop crying that night as we walked. He sobbed so loudly I wondered if our father could hear us nearing the complex. In pure thought, I said nothing, I shed no tears, only replayed the visuals of losing my beloved brother repeatedly in my head. I could still hear him smacking hands against the waters. It was no more Paul. This was due to the general’s son who committed pure evil. This made my face flush hot, and my fists clench. While our lives were saddened, his laughter played like cymbals in my ears. I inhaled the dirty night air deeply as I stepped quickly to keep up beside Cas. “The general’s son.” I thought.