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28. Renewal

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Hello.

My name is Payge Fayth Drake. I’m not very good at this, I’ve never done it before.

I’m 16 years old, I live with my brother and a few freaks. It’s not a typical family.

But it’s home.

I’ve got something to tell you, well, a story, if you will.

Let me show you.

 

DRAKE, DARIUS A. & DRAKE, RAINE E.

Darius A. Drake and Raine E. Drake both died on Halloween, 2—; born to society, they lived the term of their natural lives in the city. Predeceased by distant relatives only, the tattooing pair are survived by their two children – Payge Fayth Drake and Dante Set Drake. Known for their artistic expertise as employees at the Black Dragon tattoo parlor; they were married for a decade and a year. Ages 32 and 33, they lived their lives to the fullest, never wasting time. They were devoted hopelessly to each other in life and especially in death. They will be deeply remembered for their eccentricity, their character and their love. Services will be held on Tuesday, November 1st and friends of the lost as welcome at the parlor. Thank you. Real love is forever. –

I went for a walk, I always went for walks when I had something on my mind. I got so far once that I had to call Uncle Pike to come get me. It had been raining. He was laughing so hard I thought he’d have a heart attack. Let’s see now, I’m 16, Pandora’s 10 or so, she’s in her transitional state. And Doyle’s 21.

There’s a lot to explain, well, maybe. Like I said, I’m not good at this. But I have to do it. For them. It’d be a sin if I didn’t. It’s kind of hard to explain though. I guess I should just start. Everything has to start somewhere. Okay, here goes.

My parents died a few years back. They were pretty young if you think about it. At first, I was really upset; I loved them and they’d been stolen from me. The depression lasted a long time, it’s still not completely gone. Then I learned the truth. My birthday just passed, I got a most unusual gift. It had been left on my pillow as I slept. A box, kind of squat, tied closed neatly with a bright red ribbon. A small card was attached, sketchy handwriting told me nothing of import:

“This is yours now, it was mine, but now it’s yours. Share it with your brother, he deserves to know, as do you. This is your father’s legacy, your mother’s eternity. If you’re truly your parents’ child, I trust that you’ll do the right thing. I had to wait until you were ready. I’m sorry.”

It was signed, “Your devoted and nonexistent Uncle Draven, Happy Birthday kid.” I opened it immediately and found a bundle of papers, neatly arranged in an equal stack with page numbers printed carefully on the edges. It was a story, it still is a story. I sat and read it beginning to end in one sitting, I was fascinated with it. There were pictures carefully tucked in between the pages; I recognized my parents’ work immediately. My father’s quick and decisive hand – everything was written by hand. All of it. And I sat and read it all. I explained it to Set, my brother. I call him Set, they named him Dante. Dante is too elaborate, I like Set. And it drives him crazy sometimes. Sibling rivalry, you know? He read the story too, but he wanted nothing to do with it.

So here I am. Set thought the story was the stupidest thing he had ever heard. He said that there was no Uncle Draven, or that he was dead. Set was bitter, he cared nothing for love or my foolish notions. He laughed at me constantly about it. I don’t know, maybe it bothered me. Can never be too sure. I think the story made him more bitter, maybe because it was honest, least I believed it was. Set locked away the memories, I remembered how my parents treated one another, I couldn’t forget if I tried. Some things never leave you. Their love is one of them. As much as the truth hurt, it was the truth nevertheless.

My brother and I got along fairly well. He was a hell of a stubborn jackass, but that’s alright. I loved him anyway. I kind of had to, Set was the only family that I had left. He was still caring in his own way. He was tough too, much too strong to be faltered by any mortal hardship. That’s just Set, he didn’t know how to quit.

Back to the story. Dad kept track of their lives for years, some of the latter events I remembered as a child. They were truly devoted, to each other, to us. They story explained it all. I had the answers, somewhat. In a strange way, it brought peace. I still haven’t explained what happened yet. Both of my parents died on their wedding anniversary. Together. Nobody really explained to me what happened. The police wouldn’t share their report. The medical examiner had this to say:

“Male and female found dead by loss of blood, both passing away within mere seconds of one another. Male found lying in bed, perhaps sleeping at the time, one deep stab in the abdomen, severing major organs. Female found curled up next to male, wrists slit. But were shot once in the chest. It is believed by the authorities that the female stabbed her husband after slitting her own wrists. Dissatisfied with the slow pace, she took the handgun and took one shot to him and another to herself. They both bled to death and were found lying together, drenched in blood. There is proof that someone re-entered the apartment after this event, yet disturbed only minor artifacts.”

But that statement was hidden from me and my sibling. A copy of the original report had been tucked in with my father’s story. To explain – my mother killed my father and herself. I thought she was insane, I hated her for that. If she were so miserable, she should’ve gotten help; I was bitter for a short while. Then I read the story. I read my father’s thoughtful expressions and my mother’s abrupt ranting. It made sense after I’d read the story; I’ve read it completely about thirty times by now. The report said that someone went back – Uncle Draven went to save our legacy. I tried to think how he must’ve felt to see what he saw. He never let his presence be known, but I could always feel his watchful eyes from afar.

I’m writing here to finish what my father started all those years ago. I’m finishing their story of absolute love and tragic devotion. My Aunt Madison wrote a story too, but that’s a bit different. I think she was a bit sick though, just a tad bit in denial. I’m trying to tie up the loose ends left behind by my eccentric parents. Now that you know what became of them, I should tell you what became of the rest of us.

My brother and I were raised by the freaks at the tattoo parlor; we lived with Pike and Syn, as well as whatever other refugee stopped by. It was weird but still kind of cool, I met all types of interesting people. I loved the aspect of art. My brother loved the aspect of reason. Maybe it was the other way around. Our parents’ story helped me deal with society and express myself. My brother was the more rational of the two, believing more in his numbers than in faith itself. When we were younger, he was different, he was better. Our parents’ death hit him hard, really hard. He’d never talk about it. There were times when I’d find him crying but he’d blatantly lie to me. He was always “fine.” It was a statistical impossibility. And he knew it.

We went to school together, my brother and I. We were teased, as most young kids are. Set didn’t tolerate any of that nonsense though, he started getting into trouble, not that we had the best role models. Pike and Syn were great, but they’re freaks. Set tried desperately to be normal, but it never worked, not once. I think that normal is boring, but I’m a good kid nonetheless. I break the classic “freak” stereotype, and I love it. Of course we were freaks, we were born into it, it was our divine right to be fuct up. Set was like Dad, he needed reasons and logic. Eventually, he’ll come to grips with the world and accept who he truly is. I was both, and I loved it. My artistic expression drove Set up a wall when he’d constantly question “Why?” and I’d just smile and say, “Why not?”

Pike and Syn never officially got married. They weren’t all that religious and they didn’t believe in the propaganda of marriage. I think that’s just an elaborate excuse saying that they wanted to keep their options open. They were young when they took us, hidden away from the State. It was stated in my parents’ will regardless and, as such, as beyond contestation. They were great people though, usually high-spirited, never abusive, considerate, devoted. They drank and smoked, as adults do, but only one at a time so as to protect us from the “infection” of self-destruction. I like to think that they were happy. Maybe they were. They were very protective over us, but not to a Gestapo extreme. They were fair and caring, and they weren’t judgmental. They never treated us as an inconvenience.

And Doyle. There’s a lot to say about him. He graduated ahead of me, he’s five years older after all, but there’s a lot to say about him. I had my own opinions of him previously which were slightly affected by my father’s story. We grew up with Doyle and he was always a weird kid. He grew up to be big and foreboding with a personality to match. When we were kids he always seemed a bit…disturbed. There were things he didn’t understand, I tried to help him but to no avail. He was very protective over me at times and there were others when he just didn’t care. I think he’s bipolar as a result of his childhood. I don’t know what you’d call it, but I loved him. Maybe not love, but I respected him and cared dearly for him. He’d walked me home one day after breaking a kid’s arm for calling me names. When we got there, Pike beat the hell out of him and told him to stay away from me. I’d never seen Pike so worked up before or after. I was warned to stay away. I didn’t understand until I read the story. We saw each other regardless.

I wasn’t sure about talking to him about the story, or how he’d react. It was a sketchy topic. But, being the fool that I was, I decided to provoke the sleeping tiger. We were walking home one night, he accustomed himself to stopping a few blocks back. Things were quiet, as they usually were. We had a weird relationship, he was like an older brother to me. He stayed half a step behind me, there was some sort of symbolic meaning to this. I put on the most innocent air that I could manage and took a deep breath. Then it started.

“Can I ask you something?”

He kind of shrugged his shoulders, his eyes meeting mine when I turned to face him. He kind of muttered a reply, his eyes avoiding mine. Doyle always had eye contact issues, he had beautiful eyes, but he kept them pinned to the ground. I paused a bit and he seemed a bit nervous.

“What happened with your father?”

A drastic change came over him, he set his jaw and stared out into space. An uncomfortable silence settled in and he tried desperately to suppress it. He smiled at me softly.

“Why do you ask?”

I pulled a little girl moment, giving the little shrug and turn. “Curiousity.” He was still smiling as he started to poke and tickle me.

“Curiously killed the cat you know.” When he stopped, we were facing one another. It was like something out of my father’s story, one of my mother’s pictures. He just laughed it off, not a care in the world. I let it go and we kept on our way home. I bid him goodnight, and he was gone.

I heard many terrible stories about Doyle, but he was my friend. When we were in school, he was the toughest kid there was. He had a girl that he thought loved him, but she broke his heart. He hid out on a stairwell all day, everybody knew to avoid him. I was a freshman, so of course I was foolish. I think he got left back, the math doesn’t figure out perfect, who knows. I was on my way to class and there he was, crying softly, his arm torn apart. He’d been making cuts using his nails alone. I sat myself down next to him and held his arm so he could do no more damage. He looked up at me in surprise.

“What do you think you’re doing? You must be new, or really foolish.” He narrowed his eyes, snatching his arm back, rising to tower over me. I got up and smiled my silly smile and took a step back for every step forward he took. When my back hit the wall, he put his arm above my shoulder against the wall to block my path. I just looked back at him. After a moment of failing his purpose, he backed away.

“Go away, we’re not children anymore kid, go, get out of here.” Doyle turned his back to me, but still I refused to go. He yelled and screamed at me to leave, but I refused. Eventually, he broke down and cried again. And I held him as he shook. He whispered something about his father between sobs. Since then, he was devoted to me. Because I cared. I watched the lion cry about the needle in his paw and I didn’t run when he roared from the pain. Youth’s rough.

He was the best friend I had in the world, I admired him greatly. He was a freak too, and he cared nothing for what “they” thought of him. He had a manic side though, which I was careful with. He never touched me in anger, but he would yell and scream. And then he’d apologize like a madman. I always forgave him, especially now that I knew why. I wanted to see if he’d admit it to me.

Set knew about my visits with Doyle. He didn’t approve, but he didn’t rat me out either. It worked out well that way. Well, as well as it possibly could. My life changed with the story. I decided to have it published. Not for anybody except them, our family, our legacy. They deserved it, they’d earned it. They’d painstakingly recorded their suffering, their misery. Saved through written words and faded pictures, it was ours. For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged to something greater than myself. Something that would affect people, somehow. There was always hope. Always.

So I started typing. I kept a notebook to do my own writing in and typed every free chance I could get. I didn’t change any of it, I kept it pure, my family’s history, their legacy. I preserved the words in basic black and white pages, losing the impact of my father’s written hand. I kept one chapter and left it in handwritten pose. My mother’s story of her commitment, it meant the world to me, reading how she overcame. It didn’t take long to type up, Set didn’t approve, but he did help me proof-read the final manuscript. As a dedication to them and their legacy, I include my chapter. It’s necessary to explain what became of them, how the tragic fairy tale ends. But there’s still one loose end that I haven’t fully concluded yet. Doyle.

I was at the library typing one day when Doyle came along. I must’ve dozed off or something, I remember looking up and there he was. He sat next to me, looking at the floor. I had the story on the screen, one of the chapters about his father. He’d read it. He sat quietly to compose himself, then he shrugged it off, asking quietly how I was.

“Fine, and yourself? You read what I’ve been working on, didn’t you? What did you think?”

He shook his head slowly. “What is it?”

“My family’s history, its’ legacy. They deserve to have it printed. I owe it to them.”

“You owe them nothing,” his voice edged on a sneer, the anger carefully kept in check. It bothered him, the truth. I knew what to expect. I reached out to touch him but he withdrew, got up, and left. He knew that I knew how he’d suffered and continued to suffer. His father blamed my parents as being instrumental in his downfall. This hatred he gave to his son to bear and avenge. But vengeance was stolen from him and he was left with me. I set out to make everything make sense and finish the drama.

I walked home in the rain, my papers carefully protected from nature’s damage. I felt the sting of invisible eyes following me, I was used to it by now. I kept going, almost home when I found Doyle. Lurking in a side alley, he looked up at the sky, feeling the cold rain wet his face. I crept up to him but he just stood there. I went to leave when he grabbed my shoulder from behind. I turned to face him.

‘I’m sorry, let me help you?”

“Why?”

“Because I want to know the truth.”

I nodded and went home. I gathered up what I had and the next day, Doyle helped me in the library. He read quickly, concentrating entirely on the words. After a week, he’d read the entire tale and I’d typed most of it. I’d sit and watch him read at times, just watching his eyes shift back and forth across each line. Just watching the eyes change with the story, it fascinated me. But then we were done.

We sat together one night, him and I, and we talked about the story. Doyle’s eyes teared up and a few tears snuck out. I held him and he just ranted about how guilty he felt. I just listened, holding him tightly. He stopped only when he found that he couldn’t breathe, but still he shook. I couldn’t understand, but I didn’t need to. Just being there was enough.

The time came for trying to find a publisher. It’s very hard to be taken seriously in an adult world when you’re young. Doyle talked to publishers for me, they had many excuses. The story was too sad, nobody would want to read something that tragic. Or it didn’t seem real. Or it was insane. There were infinite excuses, that’s all that they were, excuses. Petty, silly, foolish, excuses. Nothing more. We weren’t hindered, we just fought harder.

Pike and Syn left me to myself concerning the story. They approved, for the most part. They didn’t know about how much time I spent with Doyle. I’m a great actress, I can lie without even thinking twice about it. I don’t know where I got it from. My brother and I were fantastic liars if the situation called for it. Nobody ever caught us, nobody saw through. Except Doyle.

I refer to the story as my father’s, which isn’t accurate. It was my mother’s just as much as it was his, and it’s mine and Set’s as well. It’s Cicero’s and Uncle Draven’s and Aunt Madison’s and it’s Doyle’s too. It’s all of ours. We were all instrumental in its’ creation and its’ purpose. The story’s purpose was to preserve the truth and leave a moral lesson. Stand in stone as proof that there’s more to love than meets the eye and we should have more faith in things that aren’t visible to the eye. It’s a legacy to stand against the pre-conceived, the obvious, the socially acceptable. It simply is. It’s with purpose and yet without at the same time. That’s how all great stories are. And it was Pandora’s too, not to forget her. The child born to a broken heart, raised in a broken home and yet, she wasn’t broken.

Pandora was five or six years younger than me. She was young, innocent, yet she suffered. She’d ask randomly about her parents. We explained to her that her mother died when she was a baby and that Madison had been a great person, a caring mother and a devoted wife. Devotion’s a funny word. Pandora didn’t like to accept our responses though, she asked about her father a lot. She remembered him and missed him. And we just gently explained that he had to go away. She’d ask when he’d come back. And we didn’t know. There was no reason to believe that he’d ever be back, but we didn’t tell her that, it’s better to keep hope alive, even that tiny bit, always.

I was on my way home one night, I was supposed to meet up with Doyle, but he wasn’t where he usually lurked. You never can tell with freaks, they follow the shadows. I kept going until I heard a slight scuffle in the street. I ran to it and saw Set mingled in with, who else? Doyle of course. The two were fighting back and forth, punching and kicking, fighting with all of their strength. It was silly if you think about it. I watched from the sidelines, shouting, trying to be heard, desperately. I shoved my way in between them and caught a blow and remember hitting the ground. It hurt a lot and I remember just staying there, watching everything spin. I heard voices laced with concern and people standing around. I couldn’t understand what happened. I was helped to my feet and walked away from the scene.

I remember walking doubled over and being sat down and asked questions. I looked up and saw my brother lurking over me. He was a bit messed up, a little blood, nothing serious. He seemed overly concerned with me. I wanted him to just go away and leave me be, I was slightly out of breath.

“Are you okay? You took a hard blow there kid.” His eyes looked into mine, I couldn’t focus on him.

“What happened?”

“He hit you hard and,” I cut him off with a sharp wave of my hand.

“No, why did this start?”

He looked at the floor and kept his eyes away from me. I wanted to know the answers.

“He’s snapped, you’d better stay away.”

“What do you mean?”

“He’s gone kid, let him go.”

I jumped up from where I was sitting, pain rushing through.

“What are you ranting about? Explain, now!”

He just stared at his feet again. “I saved it for you.” He handed me a small black disc, blank from lack of identification. I didn’t understand. He told me that it was the story. I still didn’t understand.

“He burned it. Doyle. He burned everything of it. I made a copy of it while you slept one night, I’m sorry to invade your privacy. He burned the box, the original manuscript, everything. I’m so sorry Payge, I really am.”

I didn’t understand, I didn’t want to understand. It didn’t add up, what the hell they were fighting about, the story, I was destroyed. Absolutely destroyed. I just stopped thinking, everything refused to make sense. I couldn’t comprehend anything. I just sat down and looked at the floor.

“He crept in somehow and took it from your room while you slept, how he did it, I don’t know. I went after him but he had a good head start. I don’t know how he managed it, but when I found him it was torn to pieces and he lit it aflame. And I jumped him and we fought. I don’t know what possessed him, but we tried to warn you kid. I’ve got it here for you, we saved it. Do with it as you will.”

I held onto the disc tightly, my mind shut down for that moment. I still didn’t understand, I don’t know if I wanted to. Nothing really added up, I don’t know. Doyle was a bit unhinged, but why would he destroy the story? He knew how much it meant to me. He wouldn’t do something like that to me on purpose. Would he? My father’s written hand meant more to me than anything else, I wanted it back. His work, his labor, I wanted it. The pictures were scanned and saved as well, they were gone too. I wanted the originals, the pages that my parents had actually touched. I wanted it back. Doyle wouldn’t do that to me. He cared, he had a heart, he wasn’t like his father. He wasn’t, I just knew it.

Set ranted about nothing for a little while and then left me to sit. I found my notebook and started writing. And I wrote and wrote, recording the events of the day. I was broken. The original was gone, all I had were save files, hopefully it would all be there, hopefully. I was miserable. Doyle and Set got into a fight over the story and when I tried to stop them, I got sucker-punched. My stomach was killing me, I went and laid down with my notebook and wrote. I’d been wrong. Doyle didn’t really care about me, he wanted to use me to get closer and then destroy me from the inside. I could feel my heart breaking and I couldn’t help but cry. I went and sought out my dear brother.

“Where’d he go?”

“What do you mean, how would I know?”

“Because he told you and I know it, I heard him, I just can’t remember the words. Tell me. Please.”

My brother’s eyes stared hard at me and then softened at my pleading tone. He sat down and looked at me somberly. “He went to finish what was started. He went to find Uncle Draven.”

“You said that he’s not real.”

“I lied,” he replied in a soft whisper. I wanted to strangle him, he looked up quickly. “To protect you.”

Now I blanked out. The story was taking shape. Doyle had taken his father’s place, my brother was turning into a mix of our father and Uncle Draven. I just stood there in silence, dumbstruck by his words. It took a moment to shake off, but I grabbed my coat and headed for the door. He watched me go, waiting till I had my hand on the doorknob.

“Let it go.”

“Never.”

And I left. I took the disc and the notebook with me and I went and walked. I checked all of Doyle’s usual hangouts, finding nothing. I kept going, I searched until night settled in and I looked in darkness. I searched for hours, stopping here and there to write a word or two about the evening. It was raining, but I loved the rain, it’s beautiful if you think about it. I stopped by a friend and left the story with someone I could trust, just in case. I kept the notebook and returned to walking. I tried my best to keep the pages dry as I wrote. After a few hours of tireless searching, I found what I’d been looking for. In a little side alley there was a slight scuffle going on. I recognized Doyle immediately.

His opponent was an older man, tired and grey looking it seemed, more so from the stress of life than age itself. He moved quickly and was strong, his eyes burned with fire but there was an old warmth glowing behind it. I knew immediately that it was Uncle Draven. The phantom himself, my invisible godfather. And they were fighting back and forth. I stood in the shadows and watched them throw punches back and forth. Then guns came out and I got involved.

Both of them had a handgun leveled at the other, staring intently down the barrel. They were moving in a circle, back and forth, prowling here and there. There was something about my uncle that set me on edge, he scared me. I don’t get scared, but there was something that sent a chill down my spine that didn’t stop. I got in the middle of them and pushed them apart. I beseeched Doyle’s sanity first. Being closer to him, I assumed that he’d understand and listen to me. I pushed him back and just looked at him. He couldn’t look at me, his eyes were meticulously avoiding mine, a step ahead. I put my hand on his cheeks and forced him to look at me. He lowered his weapon but didn’t speak. I turned around and kept my back against Doyle so that he couldn’t go anywhere. And I faced my uncle.

My uncle looked at me with tender eyes, drastically changed from their earlier flare. He too had his gun lowered, he seemed content to just stare at me. I dropped my glance to the ground repeatedly to keep him guessing, but he was ahead of me by a mile. He stepped closer to me, I wanted to step back but I couldn’t. He looked down at me and just smiled a silly little grin. I could swear that I stopped breathing.

“Do you know who I am?” he whispered. I nodded apprehensively. He still smiled as he nodded quietly to himself. He just looked me over, top to bottom. He went to hug me or something and I backed up abruptly into Doyle.

“You’re just like them, looks and all.” He seemed fascinated by the idea that I was my parents’ child. He looked past me at Doyle for a moment and frowned. “I’m sorry you fell in with the wrong element and that he was able to destroy the story. It’ll be avenged kid, I promise.”

I shook my head. “No, it’s gone. I still have it, typed up and saved, but it’s gone, the original, the paper that my parents actually touched, the pages that held my father’s handwriting that were saved for me to protect. My mother’s pictures are nothing more than ash, which is what everything is reduced to in the end. Yes, I want it back, but it’s gone and it won’t ever come back and I understand and accept that. There’s nothing to avenge.”

He stepped back and looked at me carefully. He seemed surprised. ‘Wisdom, at least somebody in the family’s blessed with it, finally.”

Doyle stepped up. “Tell her the truth, you burned it yourself and you know it! You’re trying to frame me. Tell her, go on!”

Draven seemed to zone out and come back, he wasn’t offended by the accusation or even remotely startled. He just stood there, motionless. He kind of grinned his silly little grin. And I sucker-punched him in the jaw. Surprisingly enough, he hit the ground. Doyle came out from behind me and we both looked down at him. As we leaned over him, he rolled and started to get up. His back faced us as he moved. In a quick gesture, he was standing and Doyle was on the ground, a deafening tone echoing in the alley. I heard sirens in the distance, I just stood, dazed and confused. I grabbed my uncle and demanded to know the truth. He tried to shrug me off, but I took Doyle’s gun and leveled it at his chest. My uncle almost laughed at me. He spread his arms wide, as if crucified, and just smiled. I got closer to him, still demanding truth. He pulled some sort of funny hold and took the gun from me, leaving me there feeling weak and vulnerable. He stopped for a moment.

“Yes, I burned your story child. I set this up. All of love is pain and misery and I didn’t want you to suffer. You needed to know the truth to your parents’ death, but that was merely so that you wouldn’t harbor hatred and bitterness and end up like me. I’ve always been around keeping tabs on you. When you decided to have it published, I decided that the world’s not ready for it, they wouldn’t understand. I don’t quite know if you understand. Everything that your parents worked for all their lives and ultimately to their deaths being torn apart and adulterated by society? Please consider. And Doyle, the boy was going to follow his father’s footsteps, I couldn’t risk it. Forgive me?”

He held out his arms to me in an embrace, I just backed away from him. I wanted nothing to do with him and nothing could make it right anymore. I backed away and sat on the ground next to Doyle. He was still alive. My loving uncle had shot him and he was bleeding all over the place, I tried desperately to stop the blood. My uncle just looked back at a glance and he was gone. He walked away from it like there was nothing wrong. I heard police pull up and sirens everywhere and in another few moments, Doyle was on his way to the hospital. And my uncle got away with it. Again. When I finally got home hours later, I just laid in bed and cried. I cried for days.

Weeks passed. Doyle survived my uncle’s valiant murder attempt. I heard that they’d caught my uncle eventually. He was being charged with the attempted murder of Doyle as well as all the other people he’d killed during and after the war. And he would be charged with the murder of his parents. He’d probably get the chair. He had treated me like a child and had almost killed the one person that I truly deeply cared about who cared about me. My uncle was sick and deranged, sure, he had a rough life and a hard childhood, but there are limits. Set and Doyle made up when they released him, he stayed with us for a little while. Pike and Syn were a bit more forgiving, they learned to accept the unfamiliar if it was absolutely necessary. He tried desperately to change, but my uncle tore him away from me in the end. Draven succeeded. Consumed by hate and driven by insanity, he’d destroyed love wherever he found it; he was worse than Cicero. It doesn’t all seem to add up. But Doyle was arrested and charged and locked away and I got to visit him every blue moon. It was a repeat of my mother’s commitment. History does have a funny way of repeating itself from time to time.

Pandora, Set and I formed our own little crew, the trio of treason if you will. As she got older we explained more things to her. When she turned 16, we let her read the story and we sat with her until she was through. We held her when she cried and talked it out with her. I explained the final confrontation between her father and myself. She was old enough to know the truth, and she deserved answers. I think she took it rather well.

The Trio of Treason was our little circle. Pandora was the child, Set and I played the part of her ever-watchful parents. We were highly protective of her, being she was the baby of the group. But she was smart as a whip, quick and everything. We taught her how to fight at a young age so that she’d never be vulnerable. She started writing and drawing and taking pictures as well and she was very good at it. She was rational too. Considering her true parents, we were deeply worried about her mental health as she got older. But she was as rational as they come. The Trio of Treason stood under all manner of stress, mental, physical or otherwise, and continued on for eternity. It didn’t bend, break or falter in its’ structure, it was beyond us all. We comprised it, we were the posts that it balanced on, but it was greater than the three of us and we kept it that way. It was impenetrable, always. Each point was critical.

Faith. Blindly believing in something when common sense tells you not to. Knowing that there’s something there even though your eyes are telling you the truth. That leap where you might not come back but it’s worth the risk. That was Set.

Hope. Knowing that tomorrow might be brighter than today and something of purpose can come out of a bad day. Nothing is ever truly over, there’s always time to make changes and it’s never too late to fix the problem and it’s possible to put the pieces back together and move on. That was Pandora.

Love. The lack of reason where your heart and mind are in constant argument but it’s necessary but it makes you happy. A mind set where everything is great and nothing hurts, pain is a distant idea and you feel nothing but joy. Everything around you shines and has potential for anything, improvement or destruction but you don’t care. You could go through your days with your eyes shut and it doesn’t matter because you have the ultimate trust in the world and everything is significant. Trust is a way of life, not a belief. Nothing is real but it doesn’t matter because you’re blind to the darkness, all you can see is the light and even the shadows seem less grey. Knowing in your mind that you should be careful while your heart runs free and life has purpose and is no longer empty. That was me.

So the Trio was everything, we had our own limits and rules and ideas. And we’d carry it on in life with the next generations and we’d right the wrongs done to us by our elders. Draven was sent away, years from now he’d be dead and it was his own fault. He’d killed all those people, his hands were permanently stained with blood and it wasn’t going to wash off anytime remotely soon. He had to deal with the consequences of his actions for a change, he’d gotten away with murder so many times I bet that he was sure he’d always get away with it. I don’t refer to him as “my uncle” as much anymore because I disown him for all the pain that he put me through. I can’t forgive him for the pain and misery. For destroying what was left of my mother’s sanity and leading her to her tragic downfall. It wasn’t fair and I wanted release from the madness. He was just “Draven.”

And here we are.

It took years of searching and putting it off and family issues, but here it is. The story, the entire story and the conclusion as to how everybody ended up. Ultimately, everybody died. That’s the bottom line if you really think about it. It’s all petty and menial and silly, you’re supposed to make the best of the time you’ve got. I didn’t harbor hate in my heart for the injustices done to me, I just let it go. Vengeance corrupts and I couldn’t allow it to destroy me, which it would ultimately do. We all die in the end, the purpose of life is to find purpose and succeed. Draven lost his purpose a long time ago, leaving him to wander aimlessly. My mother realized her purpose was merely to die along with her love. Aunt Madison never understood that she never had a purpose. Pike and Syn were around to scare people, theirs lives continued even after Set and I moved out. We stayed together as siblings should, going our own ways, visiting the parlor often.

It was all a circus, a three ring circus, that’s all life is. It keeps so much going on at once that you don’t know where to look, but you have to keep going. That’s why the Trio of Treason worked so well. Each of us had our eye on only one ring and we’d explain it to one another slowly. It helped us communicate and understand. We had each other to lean on. Always. The Trio was born of hate and deceit, yet it survived many a cold winter and persevered a desperate existence. We made it work because it was necessary that we have each other. Faith, hope and love, the pillars of true human expression.

This is where I leave you. This is our legacy to be carried on by those who follow behind us on the thin line between greatness and insanity, they will pick it up and bear the burden and it will be kept, always. The main lesson of all this pain and suffering isn’t meant to be understood, it’s not meant for vulgar words and silly expressions or even dramatic pictures. It’s simply a small phrase that I’m sure you’re quite familiar with by now.

If love proves real.

If eternity lasts forever. But would you be willing to give up everything for the chance at something? Just the chance, there are no promises in life and especially no guarantees in death.

If love proves real.

Thank you for listening, or pretending to care. Only freaks can make it work, I don’t know why, I’ve never figured it out completely. I think it’s because they’re freaks, because they don’t believe in the traditional or the typical. Love is far from typical, hence why it suits the freaks so well. I’m grateful for being born to such eccentric parents and being raised by the amazing people that I was. From them I learned trust, I learned honor and dignity. I learned respect and compassion. From my parents, I learned devotion. From Doyle, I learned suffering. From Set, I learned reason. From Pandora, I learned innocence. From Draven, I learned death. From Aunt Madison, I learned denial. From Pike and Syn, I learned sacrifice. And all of them together, the combination of everything is what taught me love.

True love has no borders, boundaries or limits. You can’t write rules for it or make it jump through hoops on command. It simply is. It can’t be tamed, leashed, housed or caged. It occurs without planning or comprehension. It defies all laws of logic and reasoning, mortal or otherwise.

If love proves real.

If, not when. It’s not a promise, a fact or a statement. It’s an “if”. It’s a “maybe”. There’s a possibility. There’s nothing in there about what’s necessary for it to prove real, or what must happen first. But that’s the point.

If love proves real.

If love proves real, would you believe it?

Love is having faith in something you can’t explain or prove. But if love proves real, then what? If love is proven, then it can’t be real, can it? Or maybe it can. That’s why we’re freaks.

Thanks again for listening to the long, drawn out ranting of my family. We’re highly appreciative. If you don’t mind, I’ve got to go though. I’ve got a story of my own to write, a legacy to continue. After all, it is tradition. Take care of yourself now.

I hope you’ve had the time of your life, after all, you only get one. Don’t poke the sleeping lion in the cage, he might bite after all. I’m ranting, it runs in the family you know. Or maybe this is all a nice little upside down fairy tale. Hello, all I am is a lie living for you so that you can hide from the truth of human emotion.

You know what’s the difference between me and you?

You’ll always suffer.

But I know that I know I can stop the pain, all of it, anything, no matter how horrific or tragic, if I will it all away.

If I will it all away.

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