Why Me?

On one side of a busy street stands a home. The exterior is warm and welcoming; in the large front yard grow beautiful flowering trees. The grass is uneven and green in some places. There is a small garden filled with flowers and vegetables. The late evening sun bathes the home in a magical golden orange hue.

Through the large windows the cheerful home is glowing. In the living room a family is eating their dinner, merry talk and laughter can be heard. The smiles are true. As they finish, the dishes are put away, and the merry laughter continues. The parents try to get the younger children to get ready for bed as the eldest child heads to their room for homework. A perfect family, a lovely home. Happy people.

A door opens and in a lit up room stands an oak desk, papers scattered on the floor and desk. Homework by the looks of it. A yellow backpack is lying on the bed. The walls are a cheery blue; a beautiful picture of the galaxy is hung on the wall.     Otherwise, the room is empty.

Or so it seems.

On one wall is a closed closet door. Within the closet there is a figure curled up into a ball. Not a sound they make. Tears trickle down from the eyes. The figure is shaking. Memories from earlier that day swirl through their brain. The snide smile of the bully. The comments that echoed throughout the room. The evil glares that were received. The line of tears becomes a river, cascading down the red cheeks. The sadness within the small closet is suffocating. A sound is finally made. A soft whisper, no louder then a whispering wind.

“Why me?”

 

Anonymous

Life’s Great Hypocrisy

The hills of the highlands are no longer visible, blanketed as they are with the corpses of the fallen. Some who fought for their homes others who sought to take those homes, all side by side in the sweet indifference of death. As I stare out across the expanse, words ring out in my mind yet again, promises of glory, calls to duty. Yet no duty can I see, no glory. Only the threads of life cut short by the tailor of fate using the blades of fools as his shears. Useless, unnecessary. The only victors I can see are my fellow witnesses, the vultures. After witnessing glory’s facade crumble before my very eyes to reveal the depravity underneath, did they really expect me to return to my village, find a wife, live a normal life and even toast this hateful battle? There is no way I’ll be able to go back to where and, more importantly, what I was before.

Suddenly, some movement catches my eye. Another survivor, another…enemy. My vision clouds red: he did this, caused all this senseless slaughter. At a run I snatch up the closest weapon. With a tortured cry, I jump onto him, beating him mercilessly with that armament. When I return to myself, even the sun has hidden its face from the monstrosity I have committed. The kid, no more than fifteen, grins up at me grotesquely, his skull gaping back at my mollified visage. I see my hands, red and wet. I see the gauntleted arm in my right hand, deformed almost beyond recognition but still raised as if for another potential strike. I see, even, the dark depths of my soul. The nature of which is to kill.

I ask myself: Is anyone different from me? Would any man hesitate to kill for a “good” reason?

By Carl Gervais

Last Dream

 

A lady in a beautiful white dress with pastel blue high-heels waltzed down the stairs. A man in a dark navy suit held out his hand for the lady, who then elegantly grabbed his hand and tapped the golden tiles with her tall heels. They stared at each other in the eye, only to realize there’s not much time left. They then hurried to the empty but elegantly decorated ballroom. Their dance was butterflies flying, their talk was soft words spoken by God and their kiss was the masterpiece drawn by the best artist of the century. They whispered love and sweetness to each other. They sipped their wine to calm down and walked out on the balcony for the cool air of the night sky. Stars were sewn into the sky, like a fairy tale.

“Did you have fun?” the man asked in hesitation.

“Indeed, I had so much fun thanks to you. You always bring joy to me,” the lady replied with a gentle smile, and then stopped suddenly, not able to finish her words. The man laughed quietly and assured her.

“It’s okay, my lady. Everything will be fine without me, because you are indeed a strong person.” The  man held back tears and depressed look, hiding behind a smile which the lady loved.

“Will you, will you give me a hug? Before saying good bye?” the lady asked and he hugged her tightly. The lady smiled brightly while tear drops were falling down her cheeks to the man’s chest. Farewell, every moment was beautiful with you, the lady whispered to him, finally accepting the reality of having to let him go.

 

The lady woke up from the sweet nightmare and curled in her blankets on the soft bed. The man is dead, a truth the lady was barely able to accept.

 

By Annie Cheong

Lie Filled Love

Everybody lies, it’s human nature. We lie everyday, we lie to others, and we lie to ourselves. If you believe you don’t lie, then you are lying to yourself. We lie for many reasons; to (what we think is) spare somebody’s feelings, to get out of a sticky situation, or to plain out benefit ourselves. We are self-concerned creatures. It is not bad to enjoy (or please) yourself, until it harms someone else. Sadly, our greedy, self-centred nature leads us to hurt others, through our lies.

Moreover, if you try and convince yourself the people you love don’t lie to you, then you are a fool. Everybody lies; that’s what our species does, even if it is well intentioned.

Although the ones we love sometimes unintentionally and unknowingly hurt us with their lies, it still hurts, no matter the circumstances.

It hurts even more knowing they tell us these lies to serve themselves and their greedy nature. They do terrible things knowing it will hurt us, they believe just because they are concealing the truth, that it makes it okay, that betraying our trust is okay.

With all this swirling through my mind, I finally muster up the courage to confront my husband. I take a deep breath and finally spit out, “Dare you lie to me again.”

I begin almost steaming with rage, fists clenched, shaking. My eyes search for a morsel of sincerity and comfort in his gaze, but all I get are cold shifty eyes.

Then with an eerily smooth voice he coos, “I love you.”He reaches for my hand and continues, “I swear I would never want to hurt you. I have always been faithful to you, and I have never even thought to ever cheat on you. I love you, and only you, with all my heart. I care about you, a lot.”

Truth. Lies.

I yank my hand away in hot rage. I’m not sure what to think, what to believe. Though, I still love him, I can’t help it. I let him retake my hand, I slowly turn back to face him, my blurry eyes glued to the floor, mind a daze. I truly do love him, with all my heart. I am lost, unsure what to do, or think. I don’t know if he is telling the truth, how can I believe him? Everybody lies, he must as well. If he had cheated on me, my furious state would be acceptable, otherwise I have been a fool. But everybody lies. That’s all my mind can come back to. I grow increasingly more enraged knowing I have always been faithful to him, how dare he have the audacity to cheat on me, he is the sole reason our marriage is failing.

Everybody lies, it’s all we seem to know how to do.

The Following is from an “Observation” Assignment,

 

Mother would’ve wanted her in white. She always said how white complimented her soft porcelain features.
Her soft, wispy golden hair tied back into innocent pig tails, the curls exploding at her ears.
Her soft, pouty lips and gleaming eyes glowed with child playfulness; utter innocence.
Her left hand was perched on the table with a soft, feather like grace.
I noticed how dirty her hand was, she had clearly just come in from playing outside.
Put her in white.
Pure white.
Her cheeks looked as if roses had danced on them and dusted them with a blooming pink colour.
Her golden locks curled around her tomato red ears.
She was cold.
Slight shivers went up her spine like the first frost of winter glazing the leaves with white frost.
Upset that she had to stop playing, she posted elegantly on the cold wooden stool.
Her soft blue eyes glazed over as she sat as still as a dust covered book from being on a shelf too high to reach.
She sat so still and peaceful, like a forgotten painting.
Bursts of orange peeked out from under her white blouse.
“Can I please go now? It’ll be dark soon and I’m not done outside.”
Her voice was so light and playful.
“Yes.” I softly replied.
Her sister came in from outside and began to pull her white shirt off her younger sister.
Mother would’ve wanted her in white.

 

-Sloth Lover 99

Just Another Adventure

Lee Strutinski

Every book has been destroyed. Every last fraction of a piece of paper gone. The fire in the middle of the street glowed with rage, burning so many stories that will soon be forgotten.

 

~40 Years Later~

 

It is a cold winter’s day. A family had gone up to their cabin a week ago, only to find themselves snowed in the last night. There was a mother and father who loved each other very much. They have a little girl no more than 7 years old. This girl loved to explore. She would be outside for hours at a time just wondering around and searching through forests.

The little girl was very bored having been cooped up in the old cabin with nothing to do. Her parents suggested she went exploring. She looked at them confused. She knew she couldn’t go exploring because there was no way outside. They explained that she could explore inside the house, more specifically the attic.

The girl was thrilled, finally something to entertain her. She eagerly started looking for the entrance to the mystical pace above her head. She finally found a little pull down staircase and she summoned her father to open it. After he did so she excitedly climbed the stairs. At the top of the steep staircase stood a huge room filled entirely with boxes. The girl was entranced with mystery and was ecstatic to go through the boxes, exploring the wonders inside.

She goes to the first one she can get her hands on and opens it. Inside are some old plates. She lifts the box down and opens the one under that was under it. Inside she finds some old looking toys. She finds herself getting creeped out as it felt like the doll inside was staring right back at her. She goes to a third box. She is confused as to what she finds when she opens it. Once again she calls for her father.

He makes his way up the creaky stairs and peers inside the box that his daughter is gesturing wildly to. Within the box are books. He cannot believe his eyes. This is the first time he has laid eyes on a book in a very long time. His daughter asks what they are, but he ignores her, instead he reaches inside the box to pull one out. He runs his hands along the the cover and opens it to the first page. He flips through the pages skimming the words. Finally, he turns to his daughter and tells her about books, about libraries and stories. He explains that through reading these books you can explore an endless abundance of lands and go on an infinite amount of adventures.

The little girl gets super excited. She races forward and grabs a book. She is mesmerized by it. Opening the front cover, her eyes trace the words on the first page as she begins to read. Even though books have been gone for over thirty years everyone got taught how to read so they could ingest propaganda filled news papers. She spends her whole afternoon sat on the floor of the attic taking in the story start to finish. The girl cannot understand why she has never seen, or even heard of these wonderful things before. She gets up from the floor grabbing another adventure to partake in.

That night she reads until she can no longer keep her eyes open. The next morning her father finds her passed out with a book in her little hands. He laughs a bit at the sight of his little girl. He decides to leave her there as she would wake up if he tried to carry her to bed. Instead he turns to go down the stairs to talk to his wife.

He finds her in the kitchen. She is looking at their barren pantry almost in tears. He has the sudden realisation that they didn’t have any more food. Looking out the window at the snow still drifting down at a steady fast pace, he worries that they are not going to be able to last long enough for the snow to melt off.

At that moment the little girl walks into the kitchen, book tucked securely under her arm. She asks about breakfast. Her father gives her a weak smile and tells her to go read some more while they make something up for her. She smiles, giggles then dashes off into another room. Turning to his wife who is almost in hysterics he knows what he has to do. His little girl means more to him than anyone or anything.

The little girl is sitting happily on a couch, in a fantasy world filled with great battles and horrible monsters, when her father walks into the room with a bowl. She doesn’t recognise the contents but her grumbling stomach over powers her questioning mind. Taking her first bite she notices that it is some kind of weird meat. She kind of likes it though so she finishes the whole bowl then goes back to her book.

Her days go on all the same. She gets up, eats the mystery meal, then reads until she passes out. Finishing book after book she goes through 3 entire boxes. It has been nearly three weeks, but she has been so entranced that she doesn’t notice anything going on besides what she was reading. The snow had finally subsided and melted off to the point that they could get the door of the cabin open. The little girl is happy that she can go outside finally. Her father tells her to pack her things as they need to get home before the next snow fall. She asks if she can take some of the books with her. He says that it is probably not a good idea because they have been outlawed.

The girl is saddened but understands. She goes up to her room in the cabin and packs all her belongings and puts them in the vehicle then getting in herself. Not too long after her father appears in the door way of the cabin. He loads all of his stuff in the car then gets in the drivers’ seat. He starts the engine and begins to pull away. In a panicked voice the little girl pipes up from the back seat rather confused.

“Daddy, where is Mommy?”

 

 

Framed

Every eight seconds, the second hand made a funny noise. A ‘tock’ instead of a ‘tick.’ Sam had noticed that after three days. In “The Cave,” as he had decided to call it, thick concrete walls blocked out all sound. Unless he created his own, the only sound was that clock. He looked up at it. It was just like a normal clock, but instead of plastic, the sides were hard metal, with thick bulletproof glass. The glass distorted the numbers, making it hard to tell what time it was. Not that it mattered; he was stuck in that room.

In another week, assuming he was well behaved, he would be allowed into the exercise room, under strict supervision of course.

He looked again at the clock. It was bolted to the wall, presumably so he couldn’t attack anyone with it. The few other things in his room were bolted down as well. The un-blanketed bed, the sink, and the toilet with no seat.

Everything was metal and grey; he could almost feel it draining the hope from him.

This was all a mistake. Sam was in solitary confinement for killing four people. He had been deemed dangerous and mentally unstable, sent away to this dreary, soul-sucking room.

But he had never killed anyone. He worked for his father, doing paperwork in an office. Sam had just been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was a bad habit of his, if you could call that a habit.

 

He had been walking through the forest on a late night walk. Maybe he was at fault for being out so late, but he didn’t think it would have made a difference in the end.

Either way, he had come across a body. There had been no blood at the scene, but her neck was twisted at an unnatural angle. Sam had leaned over her, horrified, and held her head, checking her pulse to see if she was alive.

She wasn’t.

Looking up, he had noticed a man standing on the path, watching him. Sam had shouted at him for help, but the man had just turned and ran.

Just as he was standing up to pull out his phone and call the police himself, he heard a shout. The police were already here, Sam realized a moment before he was shoved to the ground and knocked unconscious.

When Sam had woken up, he’d realized that the murder must have happened just before he had arrived. Someone must have seen the real killer and called the police. He had seen the real killer, he realized. Not well enough to give a description, but well enough to recognize him if Sam saw him again.

No one would believe he wasn’t the real killer. There had been three similar murders around town in the past month. Neck snapped, no evidence, not even fingerprints. Until Sam had left some when he held the victim’s head.

Those who had seen the murderer described him very similarly to Sam.

Everything fit together.

Sam still wasn’t sure why he was being held in such high security. All he knew was that in two days’ time, the soonest he was allowed, he would demand a lawyer.

It didn’t matter whom, so long as they could save him from this mess.

 

After two days of waiting, he jumped at the sound of his food latch being unlocked. He kept a respectful distance, not wanting to ruin his only chance.

“I’d like to see a lawyer. No specific preference whom.” Sam said diplomatically.

To his surprise, the guard on the other side agreed.

“We will collect you in three hours,” he said.

More hopeful than he’d been in days, Sam ate quietly and waited. For once the clock proved to be useful.

Eventually, the heavy duty doors opened and two guards stepped in. Sam stood still as they cuffed his hands and feet and led him down a dull hallway.

They approached a door labeled “Interrogation Room 1.” As one of the guards opened it, Sam’s blood turned to ice. Sitting snugly in a chair, a warm coffee in his hands, dressed in a three piece suit and shiny black loafers, was his lawyer, the real killer.

 

Alicia Shields

The Lost Man

The sun had peeked above the top of the endless evergreens and let through little rays of light pointing down at the wild, partially yellow grass. The forest floor was covered in layers of pinecones and pine needles that had fallen off the swaying trees.

A man emerged from a small, soggy cabin that was slightly crooked and was being held together by mud and long pieces of bark. His hands, covered in cuts and bruises, had multiple ropes all tied together wrapped around his arm cutting off the circulation to it. The rope was unwinding from his weak, brittle arms as he began to tie a double overhand knot at the very end of the rope to give it some weight.

Beside him was a thirty meter dirt wall that was crumbling down every few seconds. At the very top of it, a flat road led to a city near by. He swung the rope up high, concentrating on trying to catch It on the thick root ten feet higher than him, and failing to latch on the rope, he tried again, and again; still no luck. He started to get fed up, as most of us would, and took a deep breath. “ I can do this,” he said to himself with little hope in his voice. He concentrated on the root as he threw the rope directly at it. “Yes! Finally!” he said, sighing in relief.

He pulled the rope a little bit to make sure that it was perfectly placed on the side of the root to stop it from slipping. He looked up at the cliff and gulped hard then jumped up onto the rope. His hands, already weak from lack of food and water, were starting to slip fairly quickly, but he kept on pushing. He climbed higher and higher, almost certain he would reach the root. Sweat was dripping off  his forehead and onto his hands, which made it harder to stay on the rope. His moist palms touched the bristly rope and as he moved his left hand to grab the rope, his right hand slipped, causing him to fall back down.

His eyes widened with fear as he instantaneously dropped to the hard layer of dirt beneath him. A shooting pain emerged from his left leg, where it was dripping blood and his eyes clenched in agony. Tears escaped his eyes quickly as he lay there, staring at the laughing trees above him. His mind came up with thousands of questions. Will I ever leave this forest? Will someone ever find me? Are people looking for me? Slowly, he closed his eyes and let his mind race.

Sydney Noble

Decide Wisely

Amongst my fingertips, used to sit paint brushes and lead; my eyes would glide over the awakening lines I placed upon the paper. I’d smile for this wasn’t work to me but a getaway and I may have spent a little bit too much time on vacation, because I lost many pencils and canvases somewhere along the way. They stick up out of the gravel road which now decays, many walkers having traveled the same ground. Alongside my wandering feet lay many other forgotten but thought out dreams, in hopes they might be found and used again, gaining full potential of what used to be.

The filth from beneath my old wrinkled feet now clings tightly. Unlike my once before smooth, tough wandering ones, I can’t help but feel like the folds of my skin are holding on to what they can of this Earth.

Despite my fragile fatigue, these still working ankles have carried me for miles, troubled people and caused a lot of pain. I learned young, and tried to keep the mouths of others smiling more than my own. It helped me though; my weight no longer holds an army down, for I’m so light I could float away. I wish I could fly away.

Suppose my words were only kept inside; no one would know who I am besides a listening, joyful friend; who did nothing but try. Try to be there, to remain.

Except that’s when the water colors exploded.

These explosions of color weren’t predicted, nor planned; but a result of too much of what used to be. Happiness in colors I spread around by hand, trying to get others to look. Pinks and blues collided, bleeding within each other, and the more water I provided, the more blended and settled the colors became.

An outcome of beautifully swirled magenta and purple remained. And as it seeped through my fingers, I tried to collect as much as I could. Everything isn’t always in a solid anymore, but rather in a liquid state of mind now, flexible enough to move how ever it’d like. But the water didn’t calm down, no, it kept over flowing and eventually it came spewing out of my wrists until my own creations reminded me of a tsunami.

An oath, given to my younger self, in hopes of bettering her future, would be nothing less than a dream. To “ hold on to that paint brush, hold onto that journal and write in it until you can hardly breathe; take a stand, continue to chase your dream.”

Shelbylynn Willson

The Bread Deliverer’s Punishment

He is like the tires of his bicycle. He rolls around reality, seemingly able to endure the world. There are nails and sharp rocks in this young man’s life, however, some put there, some created by himself. His thick, dark brown coat hugs his undistinguished torso as he hypnotizes himself with the simplicity and familiarity of pedalling.

The fog in the air appears to moisten the smooth cobblestone road that separates the cold, peaceful buildings, buildings with stories of war, triumph, and family. All that the up-kept walls exude is wasted on this bread deliverer who no longer acknowledges them. The choppy Baltic air infiltrates his senses as he places his charge on people’s doorsteps. Times of impressing classmates and receiving physics exams with perfect scores is what this clean shaven man reminisces about. So naturally intelligent, but always thinking life will fall into his lap. He could have become something grand.

During his nostalgia, he doesn’t notice a carriage coming towards him. Solemn and rhythmic, the carriage doesn’t intend to stop. Both the carriage and the bread deliverer attempt to veer away, doing so in an awkward fashion. The back-end of the carriage strikes a stone wall and the deliveryman’s bicycle stumbles. The result is discomfort for the deliveryman, destruction for the carriage, and contamination for the bread. Out of the carriage, which now has one less wheel, emerges a plump and bewildered man. A strong feeling of entitlement secretes from this man as he angrily looks at his luggage sprawled across the street. His black, sleek suit is ruffled almost as much as his face. Trudging over to the bread deliverer, he calls him over.

“What is the meaning of this? Have you sabotaged me deliberately?”

“The road may be narrow, but I do not wish the fate of Laius on your person. The bread is ruined.”

“Boy! Where is…”

“The bread is ruined.”

“Shut up! What is your name and where is your father? He will hear of this.”

“My name is Albrecht Krüger and my father is imprisoned sir.” The older man tells the carriage driver to get another carriage and then turns around to face the deliveryman.

“No matter, you will come with me. The incompetence of a deliverer of bread will not keep me from my plans.” Embarrassment swells up inside the young man’s head. White and hot, it clouds his vision. Deep inside himself he wishes to crumble and hide, but a deceptive  contrariness to that feeling emerges.

“I’ll have you know that this bread you have slain was very competent at delivering his people. He led them from the bakery and parted the Oder.” Confused, the older man stares at a loaf of dark rye that is now soggy through contact with the road as the younger man satirically points at it. Pausing, the older man must reconnect his thoughts before he talks.

“Do not speak, fool!”

“The fool is the one who blames a piece of food for delaying his actions.” The older man’s facial expression shows the furious search for a response. Instead, the man realizes he shouldn’t give the bread deliverer more ammunition and terminates his search. Disappointed that the man smartened up, the bread deliverer smirks. As the new carriage arrives, the older man grabs the bread deliverer by the collar and puts him in the carriage. “Whoah whoah! You realize if I wanted to depart I could have and would have easily done so.”

“I regret my brashness, by all means make yourself comfortable,” says the older man patronizingly. “The man I am going to meet up with is perfect for our situation.”

“Which is what?”

“Have you learned nothing? You caused damage to my possessions and you must pay for it.”

“I had the impression that we established the blame on the bread.”

“I am eager to see how my acquaintance will punish you, fool.”

“I feel like I am repeating myself an alarming amount. Again, we have already established which one was the fool. Incidentally, I am hurt by your wanting to punish me. My father is in prison, my goodness!” the bread deliverer says this too dramatically. “Did you here about those hundreds of Austro-Hungarians that died in that barn fire?” inquires the young man.

“I will not respond to your attempts at conversation. You merely wish to catch me off-guard and then ridicule and deceive me. I know your kind; you are lower than the people that steal the bread you deliver. You cannot fulfill your own life so you rely on the inconvenience of others. You think yourself so intelligent, but intelligence is specific.”

“Why I…”

“Silence, your confidence is a trick and somehow you get away with behaving this way. I pity you.”

“I assure you my confidence is as real as the silk on these seats.” The young man’s smile hides the thumping shame that paralyzed his body. His limbs feel hollow and his fingertips become cold. Everything comes so easy to him yet the man before him can see right through. The young man could do nothing but generate a lazy comeback. Lazy. That is what he is, lazy and deceptive.

The young man doesn’t believe this; his mind is stubborn. Somewhere inside himself, he knows this man is right but the nature of how he thinks causes him to resist. They arrive at their destination. It is a busier part of the city. As they exit the carriage and their shoes strike the damp stone road, the young man contemplates ways of distracting himself briefly to stop thinking about what the older man said. He sees a man selling flowers, wondering if he knows that they won’t survive long in this Baltic climate. He could casually take a flower and give it to a lady who is standing in front of the building the older man is heading towards. He decides against it.

The building they are to enter is rather prestigious and has an average sized door. Upon entering, the men are exposed to the warm reds and browns of the floors, walls, and ceiling. Paintings, mostly portraits, line the walls. As the the men continue to walk through the building, more wealthy old men are seen. They are arranged, cigar in hand, in a semi-circle facing a fireplace. It is a gentlemen’s club. After weaving through seemingly endless receding hairlines and expensive coats, the young man sees who they came to meet and his expression changes from indifferent with a hint of disgust to cheeky confidence once again. When they begin to come into speaking distance, the older man speaks.

“May I present, Helmuth von Brüssow, one of the greatest judges in the city of Stettin.”

“You are too kind Leopold, welcome here.” Helmuth eyes the young man suspiciously, “What is he doing here?” the judge refers to the bread deliverer.

“He and I had a bit of an incident, some of my possessions were damaged.” The judge raises an eyebrow at the young man and then returns to look at Leopold. Leopold continues, “His father is imprisoned, so discipline is unfortunately absent in the life of this man and since I was coming to see you, I thought this would be a good opportunity to see how you would punish him.” The bread deliverer interrupts.

“Did I say my father is in prison? I believe I meant to say my father puts people in prison.” Feeling sceptical, the judge responds.

“I see, let me take the boy aside, I’ll talk to him.” The judge and the bread deliverer walk a few meters away from Leopold and turn to face the other way. The judges calm eyes and smile turn to confusion and slight worry. “Ludis, what in the blazes are you doing here?”

“I truly don’t know father, this man has a problem, in my humble opinion he should seek help.”

“Do not jest Ludis, this is no time for your disinclination to resign to maturity. This man can easily press charges. I am baffled at how lucky you are that he came to meet me. On that thought, you need to learn. One day your luck will run out and even if it somehow miraculously doesn’t, it is always good to learn. So I wi…”

“Hold on father, do not just go on some ramble about how I need to change my ways and how you know what’s best for me. How many times do I have to tell you that I am of age, which I have been for years already, and that I can make my own decisions.”

“That doesn’t matter. My father is imprisoned, I can’t believe it. You still haven’t grown up.” Helmuth turns around and starts walking towards Leopold. Ludis gets his attention.

“By the way, he doesn’t know I’m your son or that my name isn’t Albrecht Krüger.”

“I should have expected.” The men reach Leopold and Helmuth begins talking, “How does working at your estate for ten months sound as a proper payment?”

“I will agree to that.” says Leopold.

“But I will not.” cries Ludis. “Ten months?”

“You have no say in this, bread deliverer,” says Helmuth condescendingly. Ludis nods and walks away. He winces inwardly as he recognizes that he will no longer be able to attend a grand banquet as visiting nobility Ivan Balabanov.

By Emmanuel Rihl